Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?
A: My initial interest in becoming a doctor was planted in me as a very young child while embraced in the arms of my adorable grandmother, Ruby. At the time, I was living in my childhood rural Idaho home seated on Ruby’s lap on a very comfy couch. In fact, I can still sense the sweetness of her perfume. She held each of my hands and fingers pulling them closer into her view in a deliberate manner. This engraved an emotional memory of self-discovery when she then spoke the indelible words to me, “you have doctor hands!”
It really started as simple as that! However, as I developed through my years of grade school, junior high, then high school, and working full-time from the ages of 13-19 during the summers for a local farmer, I began to lose that sense with a realization that I just was not meant to become something so seemingly lofty as a doctor and should just consign myself to another service trade such as becoming a barber that was a much more attainable goal at the time, and something I held in high esteem. I just did not have the educated exposures that I needed in this small town to mentor me and help encourage this initial interest that began at such a young age during that intimate moment with a grandmother.
Subsequent events then began to change me dramatically after pursuing secondary education, serving a mission, and meeting another remarkable woman, my wife. I then had the opportunity to shadow her father who was a pathologist in Twin Falls, Idaho. What eye-opening experiences then developed to help resurrect the childhood desire to peruse my grandmother’s prophetic pronouncement, “you have doctor hands!”
Q: How did you transition into academia, and what inspired you to work for ICOM?
A: At the time I heard the news Idaho was seeking to bring an osteopathic medical school into the state, I was heavily involved in assisting newly developed Internal Medicine Hospitalist programs blossom in Rexburg and Idaho Falls. I wholeheartedly supported this Idaho medical school idea, and on a local level had already been assisting in the training of medical students from various schools in their third and fourth year Internal Medicine rotations in a hospital setting and previous private clinical setting. I enjoyed these interactions and the feedback I received from these students was remarkable to know that I had somehow helped them progress in their training and experiences.
ICOM was then announced and came to my attention through social media platforms, and with further research, I found that the new Dean chosen to lead this great development was someone who I extolled as a significant leader in the world of the American College of Osteopathic Internists (ACOI). I then met with Dr. Robert Hasty at a national ACOI conference and he shared some information with me that again perked my interest in supporting the cause of ICOM and serving medical students even more!
Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at medical school?
A: As funny as it may seem, I have fond memories of hours spent studying something new and having the proverbial “light turn on” and making connections of understanding that is so crucial as a young student. I can recall a moment when I was seated at a cubicle for eight hours, without a break, in a study area at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine that we termed the “dungeon.” This was a basement with no windows, concrete painted walls, and about 1,200 feet of space, but there were several well-known students to me who frequented this study space and we became good friends. Could I do that again? I am not certain I would have the stamina!
Q: Knowing what you now know, what advice would you give yourself as a first-year medical student?
A: I would recommend improvements in my study habits of making more connections with the material by developing my own list of questions related to the material that I thought may be most important. I had some moments when I was able to practice this study technique, but did not fully trust in this method and wish I would have. I often wonder if I could go back and revisit some of those concepts that I have now seen in clinical practice... oh wait, I am doing this now as a faculty member at ICOM!
I would also seek out more personal connection with those who have been through the experience such as upper classmates or seasoned faculty who at the time I did not want to “bother” because of the belief that they would just think I am “stupid.” I now realize there is no such thing as “stupid,” just less informed.