What class/classes do you teach?
I teach in the Rural and Wilderness Medicine Track, Military Medicine, and I am one of the faculty in the Fundamentals of Surgery Course for third year students. I also plan and teach a variety of courses using electronic simulators and task trainers.
Why did you choose to teach at RVUCOM?
It kind of found me. One of my friends, Dr. Chris Unrein, was on the faculty here at the time and he told me that RVU was looking for someone to take over direction of the Rural and Wilderness Medicine Track – which had been started by Dr. Thomas Told, Dean of RVUCOM. I started teaching part-time and really enjoyed it, so I was happy to later accept a full-time position.
What do you like most about teaching at RVUCOM?
Working with the students is the best thing. They are fun to teach because they are enthusiastic, generally very appreciative and catch on quickly.
What do you do in your spare time?
I collect vintage electric guitars, amplifiers and related gear. I am a perennial guitar player wannabe. I also like to ski and watch football and hockey.
What advice do you have for first-year students?
Work hard and take advantage of as many of the opportunities RVU offers as you can, without compromising your academics.
Fun facts about you.
I love planes and aviation, in general. While in medical school, I also earned my pilot’s license and later added an instrument rating. It was a lot of fun and a nice balance to medical school, but I really do not recommend current students follow that example. And eventually, I scared my wife enough times flying planes that I finally had to give it up.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
First, work hard as an undergraduate. Then strive to learn as much as you can about life as a medical student and physician so that you can make the most informed decision possible regarding your career.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
In high school I took chemistry and I had an excellent teacher. I really liked the class but wondered how I could use science while working with people. Medicine seemed to me to be the best way to do that.
What projects and/or research are you currently working on or plan to work on in the future?
Along with some RVU students who have since graduated, I completed a project looking at residency placement of RVU graduates in comparison to other medical students nationally. Working with two students who have also graduated, and other faculty, I was a co-author on an article studying a new training technique for an emergency eye surgery procedure. I was also a co-author on a paper studying the use of hand motion analysis as a method of assessing ultrasound skill acquisition by paramedics. I am currently working with several students comparing two methods of emergency triage. We hope that will lead to a poster and possibly a published article.
What was your favorite (or funniest) teaching moment?
There are lots of them. But one time I was with Rural and Wilderness Medicine Track students in a small town in Wyoming where we do mass casualty training exercises. The simulator manikin we were using in one scenario was in cardiac arrest and students were doing CPR. One of the students wanted to insert an airway into the manikin but couldn’t get it to pass without lubrication. So, before I could stop the student, they spit into the mouth of the manikin and then easily inserted the airway. That was a first for me. Later, it took me quite a while to clean out the manikin.
What was the most challenging/interesting question you have had to answer?
That’s difficult to narrow down because I think faculty get asked a lot of tough questions. But I do recall a question that came from the very first group of students that I had in the Rural Wilderness Medicine Track. The student asked me about strategy for their residency application. As a new faculty member, I didn’t know how to answer this. But I resolved to find out, and I did. And that question sparked an ongoing interest that I since have in trying to be one of our resources in residency planning.
Do you participate in any RVU clubs or organizations? Which ones and why?
I am the faculty advisor and club sponsor for the Emergency Medicine Interest Group which we refer to, more formally, as the student chapter of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Medicine. I am also the faculty advisor and club sponsor for the Wilderness Medicine Club. I work closely with the officers of the Student Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians. Also, I created and advise, a group of students interested in all aspects of simulation in medical training. We call this the Student Simulation Scholar Program.
What is your favorite memory of your own time in medical school?
There are many, in part because I was in a class of only 36 students that was the inaugural class at Western University of the Health Sciences. But during the 1980’s, disco was popular. I remember far too many times going out to discos with a lot of classmates. It turned out that some of them were really good dancers (me excepted). So, the rest of us called them “Disco DOs.” Even now, I can still hear Donna Summer, the thump of the bass drum, and see the big crystal ball turning over the dance floor.
Outside of RVU, do you participate in any other organization? Which ones and why?
I am a past president of the Colorado Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a current board member. I am also the incoming president of the Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine and have had past leadership roles with the Colorado Medical Society and nationally with the American College of Emergency Physicians. I participate in all of these organizations because I believe it is critically important for physicians to be involved in health policy.