Preceptors play a critical role in training aspiring health care providers. This year, a preceptor for Caitlin Kling also played a role in making her graduation from DMU’s osteopathic medicine program more special.
Like other schools, colleges and universities nationwide, DMU moved its commencement ceremony to a virtual stage because of the pandemic. That meant its master’s and doctoral degree recipients also were denied experiencing the hooding tradition in person. But Julie Sheehan, D.O., who practices with Aurora Family Medicine in Oshkosh, WI, had a different idea in mind for Dr. Kling, for whom she had been a family medicine preceptor during a month-long rotation in fall 2018.
“We got to know each other during the month and became good friends,” Dr. Kling says. “After the rotation ended, we stayed in contact, and she became a wonderful mentor to me as I navigated my other clinical experiences and the long process of applying to residency. She graciously let me complete another rotation with her during my fourth year. It ended up being such a neat opportunity because she was able to see my growth from one year to the next, which made her teaching and feedback even more meaningful.”
After DMU made the difficult decision to cancel its in-person commencement, Dr. Sheehan sent Dr. Kling a text message that she wanted to take her photo in her cap and gown at the hospital.
“On the scheduled day, I walk up to the hospital (mask on, of course), and she meets me at the door. She tells me she has a surprise for me as we walk into the building and, much to my astonishment, standing there in the lobby is my family!” Dr. Kling says. “I couldn’t believe it – I actually live with my sister, Sam, and she was solid as a rock in her secret-keeping.”
With the meticulousness of a fine physician, Dr. Sheehan had called DMU to confirm that Dr. Kling had indeed fulfilled all her requirements and was eligible to graduate.
“I showed up expecting a quick photo session and ended up being hooded by my favorite, amazingly supportive attending in the presence of my family and a few other preceptors I had over the years,” Dr. Kling says. “We said the oath together and did end up taking a bunch of pictures. The whole thing was truly so special.”
She’s now off to pursue an internal medicine residency at Aurora St. Luke’s in Milwaukee – of course, in addition to continuing her friendship with Dr. Sheehan.
“After the disappointment of having graduation canceled, what Dr. Sheehan planned was the sweetest, most wonderful surprise I could have asked for, and I am so grateful to her for everything she has done for me,” she says. “I hope to one day be such a great mentor to future medical students.”