The Traveling Doctor

May 21, 2010

It’s early morning and Jody Sadler, M.D. (’09), is zipping across major highways clocking a few hundred miles from Champaign, Illinois to Georgia. The Atlanta Braves are playing and Sadler, born in the home of the Braves, is a serious fan.

Music from Christian and country music artists like Jeremy Camp, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw keep him company inside his white Honda CRV.

Sadler, student speaker at the upcoming commencement ceremony, is as passionate about travel as he is medicine.

How much so?

He scheduled his residency interviews so he could travel across the country. He logged 20,000 miles on that five month odyssey, driving from New York to Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Dallas, Oklahoma and New Orleans – twice.

He also planned his clinical rotations in the United Kingdom to satisfy his thirst for new adventures. While there, he saw Bon Jovi at Wembley Stadium in London, walked the beaches in Barcelona, went skiing on the Swiss Alps, partied at the Ayia Napa on the island of Cyprus, Greece, visited the Guinness brewery in Ireland and saw the Mona Lisa in Paris.

His lives by this simple motto: “I gotta have a good time.’’

On St. Maarten, Sadler ― who matched in his first choice and will start his pediatric residency at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital in July ― was equally adventurous.

He sailed in two Heineken Regatta’s and got scuba certified, he visited Saba and experienced great hiking, he visited Anguilla where he swam with dolphins, lounged on Shoal Bay Beach, and saw his 10th Jimmy Buffett concert.

He’s as adventurous as it gets says friend Lauren Smithson, M.D (’09).

“Jody managed to get all of us involved in the Heineken regatta, along with three professors, and we had a blast racing between two boats, taking turns at the helm, the cranks, and all the other boat bits I forget the names of. It was a memory to last,’’ Smithson said. “He is always up for anything, and that is pretty good for a Southern boy.’’

But don’t be fooled by Sadler’s wanderlust. Having a good time yet maintaining a rigorous work ethic was key to surviving medical school on a tropical island he said.

“You have to be very disciplined. There are a lot of temptations on the island,’’ said Sadler who noted that some students never made it beyond basic sciences for that very reason.

“I decided to hit it hard, study my butt off and then play. You’re in paradise you might as well get the most of it but remember that the end goal is to be a doctor.”

While he had some misgivings about going to a foreign medical school, Sadler says it was the best decision he could have made.

“I went to AUC because I didn’t get into medical school in Georgia but my view is that you can’t let the stigma drag you down,’’ said Sadler.

“I’ve seen some of our students who just have it as a monkey on their back and they accept it and my thinking is, just get out there and bust it,’’ said Sadler. “There is no reason why you can’t get a 99 on the USLME. Work hard for it and you can achieve it.’’

Though determined to have a good balance between his adventurous spirit and studies, Sadler also became engrossed in extracurricular activities. He was a member of the Student Government Association for five semesters, a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. He also worked closely with the ICAN orphanage to enhance the lives of the children they cared for. In fact, it was his volunteer work with the orphanage that solidified his decision to become a pediatrician.

Sadler, who recently completed his Step 3 exams, has spent the few months before residency traveling and tutoring students for USMLE review with the Physician Assisted Student Success or PASS Program. He’s also working closely with Director of Community Affairs Dr. Sue Atchley to return to AUC for future lecture series focused on preparation for the USMLE and U.K. clinicals.

The traveling doctor has also done the unthinkable: he bought a house.

But he swears the adventures will continue.

What’s next?

“I need a wife,” he said. “I know, I know it’s funny especially since I haven’t dated much because of all the traveling, but why not? Now’s as good a time as any.’’