Practicing Medicine Has Been an "Amazing Experience", Says AUC Grad
“Whatever circumstances lead you to choose AUC, it is important to realize you have an opportunity in front of you. AUC provided me with the opportunity to start fresh and make a new commitment to work and study harder than I ever had before in pursuit of a goal I was passionate about.”
That commitment and pursuit of passion lead Phillip Stawski, MD (’04) to unique experiences and a rewarding career that, according to him, would not have been possible without AUC. The successful alumnus is currently a physician for the Garmin-Sharp Professional Cycling team.
“AUC allowed me to realize my goal of becoming a physician. It’s been a privilege to be able to contribute to someone’s life in a way that is not possible in any other profession,” he says. “I served as medical director for a national park and currently I work as a physician for a professional bike team. Caring for Tour de France caliber athletes and travelling around the World has been an amazing experience. This would have never been possible had I not become a physician.”
Weighing His Options for Medical School
Dr. Stawski’s journey to AUC began after not getting accepted into US medical schools. Not wanting to take a year off, he started weighing his options.
He was introduced to an AUC graduate through a mutual friend, which led to his decision to apply and enroll, and the rest is history.
Looking back, Dr. Stawski was extremely pleased with his choice, and felt very comfortable with the collaboration, care, and support he received from faculty.
“The preclinical support at AUC was excellent. Professors went out of their way to help out students academically or personally. Drs. Atchley and Johnson were particularly excellent. Dr. Chertok too. Clinical attendings at Providence Hospital were very helpful and were great instructors,” he recalls.
Clinicals Side-By-Side with US Med School Students
Dr. Stawski went on to rotate mainly at Providence Hospital, St. John Hospital and Medical Center in metro Detroit, and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. His rotations were side-by-side with medical students from US medical schools, and Dr. Stawski felt his education was on par with these students.
Following rotations, Dr. Stawski matched in emergency medicine at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, OH, where he served as a flight physician for life flight critical care transport, and had a wonderful experience with his class.
“I was fortunate to have an outstanding residency class. We worked hard and played hard,” he says. “As part of our program, the residents served as flight physicians for an air ambulance and that was great. You would fly to scene incidents, most often motor vehicle accidents as well as to rural hospitals to transport patients to a tertiary care center. Unfortunately in most instances, the patients were very sick, but it was a tremendous learning opportunity for an emergency physician.”
Advice for Prospective Medical School Students
His advice for students thinking about attending medical school? Get all the information you can.
“Medicine is changing drastically in the United States today. I think students should spend as much time with as many different physicians in different specialties as possible. Create a list of challenging questions and pay close attention to their answers,” he advises.
“You want to ask them about what the greatest challenges they face in their practice. What is their impression of how medicine is changing with [the Affordable Care Act]? Knowing what they know today, what changes would they have made in their career goals as an undergraduate or pre-medical student? It’s important for students to get a true sense of medicine and not just see the best face of the profession…students who have real life experience, especially in medicine, benefit tremendously. If you have worked as a paramedic, nurse, physician assistant, etc. then you have some idea what you are getting into.”
Shaping Students into Globally Minded Physicians
When looking back at his own path, Dr. Stawski admits that AUC helped shape the person he is today.
“Had it not been for attending AUC, I would not have partaken in the amount of International experiences that I have. I don’t think I would have ever ventured outside the bubble of where I was from. I’m a better person and professional as a result of attending AUC,” he says.
“Along the journey I met many wonderful people including fellow classmates, professors, and patients. Once you make it through medical school and match into your chosen specialty then you know all your hard work has paid off. What at one time seemed impossible has now become a reality…You experience a certain pride for what you have accomplished, and how you accomplished it.”