To all future doctors at Union College . . .

Since coming to Union as a first-year student in 2012, I’ve met plenty of students looking to become doctors or work in the medical field. Loma Linda is the school I’ve heard the most about, though there are other options. Because medical school is so popular, I decided to ask advice from an alumnus who continued on to medical school.  

David Deemer grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and graduated Union College in 2016 with biomedical science and an emphasis in writing and speaking. He is now following his dreams by studying at the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University. 

Melissa Ratter: How does your education and experience relate to what you are doing now?

David Deemer: I’m currently in my second year of medical school at Loma Linda University. I think my time at Union thoroughly prepared me for graduate school. My science education continues to be a solid foundation for my learning, and my non-science courses provide an extra dimension to my understanding that isn’t otherwise provided in medical school.

MR: What types of questions should someone expect when interviewing for a job in your field?

DD: Questions posed to a prospective medical student include: A) Why medicine? There are easier ways to “make a difference” and “help people.” B) Why you? What assets do you think you bring to the medical profession? C) Medical school will be a unique challenge—both in quality and quantity. Where is your passion, and how will it help you thrive in the high-stress environment that is medicine?

MR: What kind of "lifestyle" choices have you had to make in your Post Grad experience? How many hours do you work in a typical week? Do you take work home at night?

DD: I study a few hours more per day than in undergrad, my Sundays are still busy, and I still take Sabbaths off to rest. However, the intensity of my studying has increased. I’ve had to completely change my methods to accommodate the increase in volume, a change which has made me a better student (although stressful). I still eat three meals a day, sleep seven hours a night, and workout regularly. Including class, I study approximately fifty hours a week.

MR: Describe how you spend your time during a typical work day/week.

DD: Weekdays begin at 4:00 AM with a half-hour run with my wife on MWF, followed by shower, worship, studying, and breakfast. Lectures begin at 8:00 AM and end around noon. Afternoons are spent studying or in various labs/small group exercises. Supper with my wife happens around 6:00 PM, with more studying until I head to bed around 9:00 PM.

MR: Has your work experience differed very much from what you imagined it would be? In what way?

DD: My time in medical school has differed from my expectations in three ways. One, I thought it would involve less memorization. Two, it can be more frustrating than I thought. And three, it’s more rewarding than I estimated.

MR: What are some of the issues/problems that you must deal with in your work?

DD: For most, medical school is a challenge unlike anything I’ve faced. Adverse mental health conditions are much more common among medical students than the general public. It can be challenging to maintain a positive attitude. But, it’s doable. Each of us finds ways to overcome our insecurities and be there for our (future) patients.

MR: What major satisfactions do you derive from graduating college?

DD: I am incredibly proud of the education I received at Union. Each class gave me something valuable. I think the best word to describe my Union education is “holistic.” My educational experience equipped me with what I needed to be an informed, balanced, thoughtful Christian adult. If I had a chance to do it over, I can’t think of anything I’d change.

MR: Is there any advice you would give someone that you wish someone had mentioned when you were starting college?

DD: I would tell a younger version of me to enjoy my time in undergrad and to not rush into graduate school. Spending a few extra years studying in undergrad or doing something else enjoyable is not as big of a loss as it seems. Once you start grad school, it’s much more difficult to take time for reflection and personal development—better to do it before you start.

Melissa Ratter is a senior studying language arts education.