Students seek “Alumni Sharing Knowledge”

Mark Isaacson, D.O.'09, shares his experiences and advice with DMU students.Students gain an exceptional education at DMU that prepares them for professional success. Yet how can they really understand what to expect, how to act and what they should know going into rotations, residency and beyond?

That’s where DMU alumni can help — as participants in the new Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) program launched as a pilot Jan. 21 on campus. Approximately 30 osteopathic medical and physician assistant students “rotated” in three 25-minute roundtable discussions, each hosted by one of six central Iowa alumni:

  • Dante Dali, D.O.’13, a third-year resident in the Mercy General’s surgery residency program
  • Dominic Formaro, D.O.’05, a board-certified general surgeon at Skiff Medical Center, Newton, and a new member of DMU’s specialty medicine faculty
  • Luke Groben, D.O.’06, a cardiologist with the Iowa Clinic
  • Joshua Gustafson, PA-C’09, with UnityPoint Health
  • Megan Gustafson, PA-C’09, with Mercy Indianola Urgent Care
  • Mark Isaacson, D.O.’09, with Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons P.C.

The alumni talked about their daily experiences, qualifications for various specialties and opportunities to seize. Students came with a wide range of additional questions, too.

“The event gave me great insight into what life as a doctor/resident really is like. I had the chance to meet several alumni from our school, and it was fascinating to learn about how each of them chose their specialty,” says Irene Roy Chowdhury, D.O.’19. “What I liked best about the evening was that it was informal and that we had ample time to ask questions and interact with the alumni.”

James Miller, D.O.’19, said the alumni were “more candid” than he’d expected. “By their sharing their 30,000-foot views on medical school and residency training, I was able to see that my narrow outlook, which is usually focused on the next exam, does actually fit into the bigger picture of becoming a physician,” he says. “I came away feeling supported, optimistic and more positive about the daily grind of medical school.”

The ASK program is set to expand, both with events and “virtually” via LinkedIn, given students’ response to the Jan. 21 pilot: Gretchen Nelson, M.B.A., assistant director of alumni relations, said that within five minutes of her posting the ASK event on the University’s internal website, all 30 student slots were filled. The alumni relations staff hosted another ASK event for physical therapy and podiatric medicine alumni and students on Feb. 29.

“We are additionally looking for alumni in the Des Moines and surrounding areas to host in-home dinners for a small groups of students,” Nelson says. “As an alumnus or alumna of DMU, can you remember trying to decide what career path to pursue or how to study for boards? Do you recall job searching or learning a new city? Share your experience and lessons learned with current students. Whether you graduated months or years ago, you have a valuable perspective to share.”

Alex Bauer, D.O.’18, president of the College of Osteopathic Medicine Student Government and a participant in the Jan. 21 event, affirms that. “Events like this one bridge the gap between our years in the classroom and our futures in the hospitals and clinics,” he says. “It gives us a much-needed foreshadowing of the light at the end of the tunnel, and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to participate.”

For more information or to get involved in the ASK program, contact alumni relations at or 515-271-1463. In addition, if you have a LinkedIn profile, you can stay connected and network with students and alumni by joining the “Des Moines University ASK (Alumni Sharing Knowledge)” LinkedIn group. By joining, you will provide students with an important career development resource and a wealth of information.

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