While Zoom fatigue is a real thing after a year of the pandemic, nearly 100 students eagerly jumped on screens this week to talk with graduates who are members of DMU’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge program, or ASK. In addition to connecting individual students and alumni who serve as mentors, the Development and Alumni Relations team periodically organizes group events. This past week, the team partnered with Sigma Sigma Phi, the national osteopathic honor society, and DMU Health Leaders, a campus networking organization, to offer virtual group sessions with nine DMU graduates of the University’s osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine and physical therapy programs. The sessions were recorded to allow even more students to view them.
“We are so grateful to our ASK members for sharing invaluable information and advice to our students, who clearly desire those insights and relationships,” says Krystal Kruse, assistant director of alumni relations. “Not only do our ASK alumni benefit students, but they also strengthen the DMU community. By generously sharing their time, we hope they inspire students to become ASK mentors after they graduate.”
Krystal encourages all DMU alumni to register for the program. The online registration form takes just a few minutes to complete.
The questions and conversations during the recent nine sessions covered a wide range of topics, from the pros and cons of rural versus urban practice, owning one’s practice versus working in a large organization and tips for applying for residency, choosing a specialty, maintaining a work/life balance and avoiding burnout. Kevin Post, D.O.’02, had multiple perspectives to share as a rural family physician, an emergency medicine provider and now chief medical officer of Avera Medical Group, a Sioux Falls, SD-based organization of approximately 1,300 providers spanning five states.
“I chose family medicine in rural areas because I grew up in a small town in northwest Iowa and saw the shortage of physicians,” he said during his session. “You feel like you’re always on, whether in your practice or at the grocery store, but I enjoyed the scope of practice.”
For students seeking to join a health care organization, Dr. Post encouraged them to “pick an organization that reflects who you are. Know its values and how they drive operations. And get engaged early on in leadership roles.”
“Always focus on the patient,” he added. “Your colleagues will want to know that you truly care about the patient and possess emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and active listening skills.”
ASK member Daniel Gabrielson, D.O.’00, FACOOG, shared insights on owning one’s practice. He founded the Gabrielson Clinic for Women in Webster City, IA, in 2009; it now has four locations, four obstetricians/gynecologists, six nurse practitioners and more than 40 employees. His practice has been a core rotation for DMU students for more than a decade.
“I enjoy the business side of practice enormously,” he says. “I took risks, no doubt, but what better investment can you make than in yourself?”
ASK member Bryan Ladd, D.P.T.’14, made the leap to founding a cash-based physical therapy practice, Kaizen Health and Wellness PLLC in Grimes, IA, after practicing in the U.S. Navy, supervising staff, a main clinic and four branch clinics. While he said his military experience “set me up perfectly for direct-access practice,” he came to dislike the bureaucracy. In addition to establishing his practice, he hired a coach to help hone skills he needed as an entrepreneur, including marketing, sales and promotional communication.
“The best part is that no one tells me what to do. I can have a flexible schedule, which works well for my family,” Dr. Ladd said. “My prices aren’t cheap, but I’d rather work with people who value my services rather than trying to fill my schedule just to fill my schedule. When people pay, they pay attention. And when you get burned out, there’s no amount of money to make you happy.”
In his ASK session, Karl “Fritz” Disque, D.O.’07, R.Ph., encouraged students to devote time to their practice early. A practicing board-certified anesthesiologist, he is co-founder of National Health Care Provider Solutions (NHCPS) and executive director of the Disque Foundation. NHCPS is an online medical company that provides instruction in basic life support, pediatric advanced life support, advanced cardiac life support and CPR, AED and first aid courses to health care professionals around the world, including in underserved areas, at low or no cost. As a DMU student, he worked night shifts at a pharmacy near campus and founded a real estate business; during his residency at Rush University, he continued to take shifts at pharmacies around Chicago.
“I didn’t sleep much,” Dr. Disque admitted. “When you’re pre-35, you have a lot of energy. Take advantage of that and put it to good use.”
His practice and entrepreneurial endeavors are a good balance, he said. “Anesthesiology allows you to handle a wide variety of complicated cases. When you’re at work, you’re all in, but when you’re done for the day, you’re all out. As an entrepreneur, you never leave it. You’re always thinking about it, but you decide how far you want to take it.”
In addition to Drs. Post, Gabrielson, Ladd and Disque, these alumni participated in this week’s ASK sessions:
- Michael Hunt, D.O.’91, pediatrician and chief medical information officer at Patient Alerting Logistics, Cincinnati
- Marc Jones, D.P.M.’11, FACPM, FASPS, lead staff podiatrist at the Mann-Grandstaff Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Spokane, WA, and secretary of the DMU Alumni Association Board of Directors
- Gary Lienhart, D.O.’04, anesthesiologist and pain medicine physician, Fort Hood, TX
- Katie Melton, D.O.’12, hospice physician with Navian Hawaii, a non-profit hospice on Oahu, HI, who also serves as Navian’s medical director for half the year and leader of its home-based palliative care program
- David Yount, D.P.M.’89, owner and physician with Advanced Foot and Ankle Clinic, Des Moines, who performs surgery at Mercy Medical Center, Iowa Lutheran Hospital and Surgery Center of Des Moines
DMU thanks all ASK members for sharing their knowledge with students!