During recent online discussions with DMU osteopathic medicine students, several alumni shared insights, offered advice and answered questions about all things specialty-related. What is your biggest challenge? What’s the difference between practicing at a community hospital versus an academic hospital? Rural practice versus urban? What’s a typical day like, and how many hours do you work per week? And when did you know which specialty was right for you?
The sessions were part of DMU’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge program, or ASK. This mentor network connects DMU alumni with current students to share information about their education, career choices and transition to life after medical school. ASK alumni can define how they want to participate and are invited to ASK events held on campus and via video conferencing throughout the year.
“Given the number of students who participate in ASK, especially in our online topical discussions, that our ASK alumni are providing invaluable information to future alumni,” says Krystal Kruse, assistant director of alumni relations. “Many of these alumni also provide their contact information so that students can follow up with additional questions. Their generous gift of time and advice makes a huge difference to our students.”
Simon Holoubek, D.O.’15, M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, described his endocrine surgery practice, the majority of which he performs at an affiliated hospital in Rockford, IL. “Endocrine surgery occurs in a very controlled environment in which I’m able to meet my patients and plan for each case,” he said. “But patients typically are pretty healthy, which means they have high expectations for their outcome.”
In addition to maintaining good grades and achieving solid board exam scores, Dr. Holoubek advised students to network with “people who can elevate you” while on rotations. “Try to make yourself an indisposable member of the team, so people notice you,” he said.
Anne Dudley, D.O.’09, a board-certified pediatrician in an outpatient clinic in southwest Michigan and physician lead at Spectrum Health, where she teaches culinary medicine to pediatric and family practice residents, shared her passion for incorporating healthy lifestyle education in all of her patient visits. She told students she was six years old when she began telling people she was going to become a doctor and “help save the children.”
“Once I did a pediatrics rotation, I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” she said. Culinary medicine and nutrition counseling weren’t concepts she expected to add to her patient care, she said, adding as she pointed to her attire: “Now I’m wearing a ‘KALE’ sweatshirt.”
“I saw such a need,” she said. “There are so many parents who don’t know how to feed their children. I wanted my advice to be nutritionally sound and backed by science.”
Nicola Preston, D.O.’09, an emergency medicine physician with MercyOne Des Moines, offered students in her ASK session some practical advice: “Pay off your loans.”
“Read ‘The White Coat Investor’ early to start your financial adventure,” she added.
Despite what she described as an “extremely challenging past two years” of practice during the pandemic, Dr. Preston also said she enjoys the “work/life balance” of emergency medicine. “In emergency medicine, when you’re off, you’re off,” she said.
Garth Summers, D.O.’17, an obstetrician/gynecologist with MercyOne North Iowa in Mason City, explained his decision to apply for numerous residency programs. “It costs a lot to apply, but I preferred to pursue the option for having several interviews,” he said.
Residencies in his specialty, he added, provide “excellent training” wherever they are, but he chose one with a “group I got along with and gave me opportunities to learn.”
“Your residency will be enjoyable but also challenging, and it will push you out of your comfort zone, so having people you can fall back on is important,” he said.
Alumni in all the ASK sessions gave students plenty of encouragement. When asked what he didn’t anticipate about his residency and practice, Dr. Summers said “COVID – but also how much I was going to love what I do every single day.”
Dr. Dudley wished students good luck in their endeavors. “I’m really hopeful you’ll all bring a new generation of excitement to medicine,” she added.
Dr. Holoubek commented on the DMU connections he’s encountered since graduating. “When you leave DMU and say you went to DMU, that really does mean something,” he said. “Students can say they went to DMU with pride.”
The DMU Alumni Relations team is grateful to the alumni who participated in the ASK sessions on specialties:
- Craig Clark, D.O.’95, cardiology and internal medicine
- Jessica Dotson, D.O.’16, psychiatry
- Anne Dudley, D.O.’09, pediatrics
- Simon Holoubek, D.O.15, general and endocrine surgery
- Gary Lienhart, D.O.’04, anesthesiology and pain medicine
- Matt Molin, D.O.’17, family medicine and LGBTQ care
- Nicola Preston, D.O.’09, emergency medicine
- Garth Summers, D.O.’17, obstetrics/gynecology