By Jack Sowers
What began as the fulfillment of a lifetime dream for student doctor Caroline Stevens now also includes her selection as the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents’ “Student D.O. of the Year” at OU-COM.
The award, created in 1992, honors outstanding osteopathic medical students each academic year. All 19 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States select a recipient. The recipient at each school is selected on the basis of service to school, community and the osteopathic profession.
Dean Jack Brose agrees wholeheartedly with Stevens’ selection. “Any one who has worked with Caroline will agree that she has demonstrated performance far beyond that which is expected of her,” Brose said. “I know that she will be a future leader in our profession.”
By winning the award, Stevens also distinguished herself in another way. Usually students are nominated for the award in their final year of medical school. Stevens is the first student at the college to be honored with the award before her final year.
Although last year was Stevens’ fourth in medical school, she is a fellow in the Department of Social Medicine’s two-year preventive medicine/public health fellowship program for the past year. She will graduate in June 2004 after completing the second year of the program.
She is currently doing her clinical rotations at Grandview Hospital and Medical Center in Dayton, one of the school’s Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education sites.
Stevens decided to renew her dream of being a physician after 16 years spent as a speech/language pathologist in Dayton, mostly in medical and educational settings. “It was an old dream of mine, and I was ready to learn and explore new things,” she said. “I had given up that as an option when I went into speech language pathology, but it occurred to me that I wasn’t too old to go to medical school.”
The 43-year-old Stevens said she relishes her status as a nontraditional student. “I think regardless of what our age is when we come to medical school, we’re all at different developmental stages,” she said. “Age provides experience — life experience. But whether we’re younger or older, we have different gifts and strengths to bring to medicine.”
Stevens said she isn’t sure in which discipline she will specialize, but her opportunities will likely be plentiful. In the summer of 2002, Stevens was one of two students participating in the Charles J. Cannon Edinburgh Geriatric Tutorial in Scotland. On June 18, Stevens traveled to Kenya on a research mission with Gillian Ice, assistant professor of social medicine, where she will help Ice conduct research on the health consequences of stress on the elderly in the AIDS-afflicted country.
“I might have been more narrowly focused when I first started, but since then I’ve had opportunities to explore different areas of medicine,” Stevens said. “I’m not as definite about what I’ll be doing. My possibilities have broadened, rather than narrowed.”
Jack Sowers is a graduate student writer.