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6COMMUNIQUFALL2014AneclecticcareerpathleadstomedicalschoolDISCOVERINGTHEIRCALLINGREINVENTINGtheirfutureEveryMSUCOMstudentfollowshisorherownpathtobecomingaphysicianbuttheseindividualschoseuniqueroutes.MELISSADUIMSTRAGrowingupinGrandRapidsMelissaDuimstrahadalonglistofaspirations.Shewantedtobeadoctorandaveterinarianandanartistandahorsetrainer.ThroughtheyearsshesdonemanyofthosethingsandmoreandaftertakingacircuitousroutetomedicalschoolshesnowonthepathtobecomingadoctorasamemberoftheMSUCOMClassof2018.Duimstrasloveforanimalsledhertoworkingwithaveterinarianduringhighschool.Itwasanexperiencethathelpedherrealizethataveterinarycareermightnotbeforher.Atthesametimehermaternalgrandfatherafurnituredesignerandpainterwasalsofosteringherinterestinscienceandart.Hehadastudioinhishouseandhewasalwaysencouragingustopaintandexplore.Ialsocredithimwithencouragingmycuriosityabouthowthingsworkintheworldandsciencebecausehewasgoodatthattoo.Hehadaninquisitiveandcuriousmind.Winninganationalartawardandascholarshiptoartschoolasahighschoolseniorbolsteredhercondenceinhercreativeability.ItencouragedmetothinkthatIcouldbeanartistshesays.DuimstraputherartisticaspirationsonholdwhilecompletingabachelorsdegreeinpsychologyatWesternMichiganUniversityandspendingsometimeworkinginaresidentialfacility.Shethenplungedheadrstintothecareerofanartistandthoughnotstarvingshedidtakeonmanyjobstomakeendsmeet.Shewasavocalistinabandfor20yearsworkedasacertiedhorseshoertaughtarttostudentsofallagesandevendidconsultingworkforeducationalsystems.EvenwhenIwasyoungandnavethethoughtwasinthebackofmymindwhatwouldIdoifsomethinghappenedtomeshesays.WhenherrstchildwasbornwiththeassistanceofamidwifetheexperiencemadesuchabigimpactonherthatDuimstrabecameadoula.Ilovedlisteningtopeopleandndingoutwhattheywantedfromtheirexperienceprocessingthatwiththem.Myphilosophywastosupportwhatthemotherwantedshenotes.Itwasawonderfulwaytoempowerwomen.AsshespenthertimeworkinginmanyjobsincludingastintasazebratrainerandasimulatedpatientattheMSUCollegeofHumanMedicineDuimstraandherfamilydidnotcarryhealthinsuranceandaccessinghealthcarewaschallenging.Manytimesfriendswouldcometoherandaskforherassistanceinndingwaystogetthecaretheyneeded.ThroughtheyearsIwouldencounterpeoplehavingmedicalissuesshesays.IsawthemstrugglewithhowdoyoutakecareofyourselfHowdoyoubalanceacareeryoulovewiththepracticalsideofgettingaccesstohealthcareAboutsixyearsagoDuimstraslifecametoacrossroads.Theeconomicdownturnhitherfamilyveryhardandsheknewshedneedtomakesomeverydifcultchoicesregardingherfuturehercareerandherfamily.TheolderIgotthemoreimportantitwastometodowhatIfeltpassionateaboutshesays.Iwantedtodosomethinghands-onandIlovedbeingadoulabutIwantedmore.Sheexploredthepossibilityofpursuingtrainingtobecomeaphysiciansassistantoranursepractitionerbutneitheroptionseemedliketheperfectt.ShedbeenvolunteeringasamedicalassistantatCatherinesHealthCenterafreehealthclinicinGrandRapidsandfellinlovewiththeatmosphereandthefamilyelementofafamilypracticeclinic.DuimstrawenttoGrandValleyStateUniversitytocompleteherupper-levelscienceprerequisites.Shealsobeganconsideringmedicalschooloptions.Idalwaysgonetoosteopathicdoctorsshenoted.OnedaymydoctorlookedatmeandsaidYouretotallyanosteopathatheart.IalsohaveD.O.friendswhosaidthesamething.WhyarentyouapplyingtoMSUCOMTheywererightDuimstraisplanningacareerasaprimarycarephysician.IvolunteeredatCatherinesforacoupleofyearsandthenworkedthereforayear.Iloveditthedoctorsthepatientseverything.Ienjoyedhowyoureallygottobuildrelationshipswithpeople.ThatwasanimportantexperienceitconrmedthatImintherightplace.Shesalsoreadytoshareadvicewithothernontraditionalstudentswhomaybeafewyearsandafewcareersremovedfromtheirundergraduatedegrees.Youcandoit.Itsnoteasybutyoucandoit.Lifeisacircleyouneverknowexactlywhereitwilltakeyoubutoftenwhatyoulovedasachildwillcomebackaroundshesaid.MelissaDuimstraisshowninfrontofoneofherabstractpaintings.byLauraProbynSTUDENTS