Enhance Your Financial Wellness with the DMU Alumni Board Financial Wellness Series

Most Des Moines University graduates pursue wellness-related careers, but some aren’t confident about their own financial wellness. Getting information about managing one’s finances, including student loan debt, was a top response when the DMU Alumni Board surveyed graduates on how the board could benefit them. That’s why the board created a four-part Financial Wellness Series that covers budget development, estate planning, employment contracts, insurance and tax considerations. Three of the series sessions are available online; the fourth occurred “live,” in which participants could ask questions of the series’ expert faculty.

Alumni board member and secretary Russell Dixon, PA-C’11, who also chairs the board’s engagement committee, took the lead on creating and planning the series – not because he’s a financial expert, but because he experienced his own “financial mishaps” after graduating from DMU.

“I bought a house before passing my board exams or having a job,” says Dixon, who practices at the Central Iowa Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s emergency department and The Iowa Clinic – urgent care clinics. “I had a position lined up, but I still needed to get credentialed.”

Dixon also thought he’d found his dream home, but after taking the plunge, he discovered the house needed a lot of work he hadn’t anticipated. “I had a roommate to help with the cost, so it turned out okay, but it was not a great way to start my career,” he says.

He took on three jobs, including at a critical access hospital in Ottumwa, Iowa, which added stress. He learned about a state program that helps health care providers pay off their student loans, which was helpful. A year before he paid off his loan, he decided to refinance the debt he had left, which seemed like a wise idea.

“But when I informed the state loan repayment program about that, I was told I no longer qualified for the state match because I refinanced my debt through a private entity,” he says. “So I just worked more hours.”

Dixon says these financial missteps – failing to read the fine print on loan and other financial agreements, lacking the patience to hold off on major purchases and “doing things out of order” – were “teachable moments.” Now he and his wife, Marlene, still reside in their dream home, and his student loans are paid off. He’s hopeful the alumni board’s Financial Wellness Series will help other graduates, especially those within 10 years of their graduation from DMU, get and keep their financial ducks in a row.

“Managing budgets and debt is very personal for everyone, but having some information and the ‘ah has’ that come with it can be so valuable,” he says. “After graduating, everyone is eager to get their career started or get through residency, which is a lot to handle. The Financial Wellness Series is designed to give alumni a useful resource and a way to stay connected with DMU.”

Scroll to Top