Medical rotations have taken Emily Willmann to Cedar Rapids, IA; Palm Springs, CA; Wyandotte, MI; and, most recently, Cleveland. Her tip for such a peripatetic lifestyle: a “really good suitcase.”
The fourth-year DMU osteopathic medical student says rotations are great opportunities to explore medical specialties of interest, demonstrate one’s skills to different programs and earn positive letters of recommendation for applying to residency programs. Another bonus: “It’s a new adventure every time,” she says.
So far, Emily has experienced surgical and emergency medicine “audition” rotations, which are two- to four-week experiences that let medical students “audition” for their preferred residency programs, the next step after graduating from medical school. Her rotations have been in community hospitals, giving her a sense of what a residency may be like in those settings.
“I really like community medicine. There are more responsibilities in the emergency room for residents to take charge of patients,” she says. “I feel I’ll be way better prepared.”
With a goal of practicing in emergency medicine, she tapped DMU’s network of graduates who are emergency medicine physicians to help her choose rotation opportunities.
“I’ve been very fortunate in choosing places that very much involve the medical student,” she says. “You’re considered a member of the team and are expected to contribute to the team.”
Now that she’s largely completed her audition rotations, Emily will spend the remainder of her fourth year in rotations that will let her gain experience in other areas. She says she’d advise other medical students to pursue rotations in specialties beyond their chief area of interest. In November, for example, she’ll rotate at a family planning clinic in Michigan.
“That lets you meet different people and experience different teaching styles. It can feel like you’re walking in blind a bit, but it’s super-reassuring when you work with physicians you don’t know and you earn their trust,” she says. “That builds your confidence and shows that your hard work is paying off.”
In addition to pursuing her osteopathic medical degree at DMU, Emily earned a master of science degree in biomedical sciences (M.S.B.S.) at the University in 2018 and conducted research relating to the autoimmune disease lupus. She served as president of the Student American Academy of Osteopathy (SAAO) at DMU and vice chair of the national SAAO board, vice president of the Student Osteopathic Surgical Association (SOSA), volunteer coordinator for the Emergency Medicine Club and vice president of Pride Alliance. With classmate and SOSA President Cameron Slife, she successfully pitched a proposal to the national SOSA for DMU to host its national conference in spring 2020. All she accomplished and contributed in her endeavors earned her the title of the 2019-2020 Student of the Year in the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM).
Emily says her longtime participation in athletics helped her manage the demands of both medical school and emergency medicine, “the team sport of medicine,” including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every ER has been very full with COVID patients. We’ve had to board them, when they need to be admitted but there are no beds available. You can see the trauma on the doctors and nurses,” she says. “But everyone works as a team. I’ve been doing that my whole life, and I love it.”