Campus Voices is a place for faculty, staff and students to share ideas, views and information about issues that matter to them personally and professionally. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the University of Iowa. View more Campus Voices here.
Match Day 2013 was a great day for us, when we confirmed that we’d spend the next four years as we’ve spent the last nine, living and learning right here in Iowa City. We already knew that Jaci had matched at Iowa for ophthalmology and were both excited and relieved to learn that the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics would keep Michael here for obstetrics & gynecology.
But how did we get here from Lake Mills, Iowa?
Jaci: Well, it’s not so unusual that my first trip to Iowa City was for a football game, but would you believe it wasn’t the game but a bookstore that captured my imagination as a fourth grader?
It’s true. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the game, but I have a vivid memory of visiting the Health Sciences Bookstore in Hospital Ramp 3, plucking a pediatrics text from a high shelf and flipping through it, fascinated. I decided right then and there that I wanted to be a doctor and I told my dad I wanted to be here.
Michael: Around the same time that Jaci started reading medical books, I had an amazing fifth-grade teacher who inspired me to follow his footsteps. But when I told him, he said, “Michael, I think you can do more.” I was a little crushed by his reaction because I thought teaching was such an amazing skill.
Little by little, through helping my dad around the farm, where there’s no escaping science, and the influence of my mom, a nurse practitioner, and Jaci, who I started dating as a high school freshman, I started to steer myself toward medical school. But I still didn’t let go of that teaching dream.
Then as a first-year medical student a pediatric surgeon visited our anatomy lecture and he was just masterful at demonstrating how the basic science we were learning translates into medical practice. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can do both! I can be a doctor AND a teacher.”
We picked Iowa for our undergraduate study because we wanted to stay close to home but still attend a college with a medical school. We are so fortunate to have that option right here in our own state. We were gradually introduced to MERF (Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility—home of the UI Carver College of Medicine) through our undergrad years and got to see first-hand the medical-student life we aspired to.
We had opportunities here we could not have had anywhere else.
Jaci: As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to work on a research team lead by Andrew Hollingworth, professor of psychology, studying visual perception—the way the eye and brain work together. Years later, when I came to my ophthalmology rotation it hit me again what a remarkable organ the eye is.
I am so motivated by the great physicians here and the groundbreaking research I get to be a part of. It’s hard to imagine any other university offering me that kind of access starting as an undergraduate all the way through my residency.
Michael: I feel I was lucky to start medical school just as the college was beginning its curriculum renewal process. I was able to participate as a student representative on design committees and the medical education council, which gave me an up-close look at the building blocks for medical education.
A one-year pathology externship let me try my hand at teaching and with that as background as well as such amazing mentors as Dr. Peter Densen in internal medicine, I was able to cement my dual commitment to teaching and medicine.
The collegiality and connectedness, not just within the medical school, but the whole health sciences campus with physician assistant, nursing and other health students all in the same area, just makes Iowa unique.
The four communities within the medical school give students a home base and a great opportunity to interact with students in other classes. We definitely benefited from the experience of students ahead of us and have made a point this year to be available to help the first- and second-year students.
That’s not an atmosphere and closeness you find just anywhere, and we definitely learned that as we interviewed in other locations for our residencies. We just wouldn’t have felt as comfortable or warm anywhere else.
We couldn’t be happier to be staying here to continue our training as residents, to be working with world-renowned physicians and clinician-teachers who are committed to delivering world-class care while teaching the next generation of doctors to do the same.
We challenge anyone to find a better place to live and learn.