By Mary Reed
From growing up in war-torn Ethiopia to scuba diving in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Mesfin Shibeshi has a high tolerance for intensity and an appetite for challenge. But his life's greatest excitement and satisfaction, he says, has come from practicing medicine.
Shibeshi will earn his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree Saturday from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
"Training to be a doctor is still the most exciting and wonderful thing I've ever done," Shibeshi says. "It is a great privilege to treat anybody."
After graduation, Shibeshi will start a residency in orthopedics at St. Joseph's Hospital in Warren, Ohio. He plans to become an orthopedic surgeon -- a natural extension of his previous profession as a physical therapist -- and work in a trauma center. The soft-spoken Shibeshi acknowledges he enjoys the thrill of this medical specialty. "As much as I like the rush of adrenaline, I'm also calm enough to handle the crisis," he says.
Shibeshi's family knew crisis intimately in Ethiopia; his father and uncles were taken as political prisoners during Ethiopia's civil war in the late 1970s and 1980s. But the adults never revealed their distress to the children, telling the kids instead that their fathers were away on business trips. "That took really, really, really hard work. So they are my heroes," Shibeshi says, crediting their resolve and his own to the family's orthodox Christian faith.
"When they say God has a reason for everything, (my family) takes that to heart," he says, noting that this is not a recipe for inaction in life. "I don't stand there and hope and pray that things will be OK. I actually do my job, and trust that God will help me achieve the outcome."
His job as a D.O. is to treat the whole patient, which took some adjusting to after Shibeshi's nearly seven years as a physical therapist. "In physical therapy, (if) you have a hurt knee, you get treated for a hurt knee," he says. "Osteopathic manipulative therapy, on the other hand, looks at the whole body. Why did this knee problem happen in the first place?"
Shibeshi's innate passion for service led him to earn his D.O. degree -- and will continue to direct his path. "I enjoyed helping underserved areas," he says, referring to Southeast Ohio and his native Ethiopia, where he hopes to return every few years to serve as an educator and volunteer physician.