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Alumni Profiles

Alumni of Elmhurst College go on to rewarding careers in every aspect of health care. Here are some of their stories.

Melissa Giese
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

Why Veterinary Medicine?
I have always had a strong passion for both animals and science, and the veterinary field was a natural combination of the two. Not only will I be able to handle a wide variety of fascinating creatures, but I will also be able to use my love of science and medicine to help them. It’s a win-win situation all around for me.

Elmhurst’s Partnership with the University of Illinois
Elmhurst has a 3+4 program with the University of Illinois that made it possible for me to apply as a sophomore to veterinary school and be accepted into the program early. I was very lucky to have this opportunity—Elmhurst is one of only a couple of colleges in the state that have this special program.

How Her Professors and Advisors Helped
Elmhurst has an absolutely incredible biology department. My instructors prepared me well for veterinary school in terms of both knowledge and study habits. The professional development team also helped me to stay on track with my goals. I owe a great portion of my success to Elmhurst’s excellent team of instructors and advisors.

Advice for Future Health Care Professionals
Never let anyone tell you it isn’t worth it. Study hard, take every opportunity you are given, and have fun. It will be tough, but in the long run your hard work will pay off.

 

Patrick Brambert
University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Clinics

Why Dentistry?
I have always enjoyed going to the dentist. I’ve never had a cavity. Yeah, I’m one of those people. My dentist back in my hometown helped get me interested in dentistry, and later he let me shadow him to learn about his practice. The way he interacted with his patients was so impressive. His office just had a great, relaxed feel.

How to Succeed in Dental School
Time budgeting is the most important skill. The classes are so demanding and the days so long. It helps that I learned to prepare for difficult work at Elmhurst. And I try to leave free time on weekends. Otherwise you can really burn out. It’s important that your recharge your batteries.

How Elmhurst Helped Him Prepare
The research experience I had at Elmhurst has definitely carried over to dental school. [Pat worked with Assistant Professor Stacey Raimondi on investigations into the genetic triggers that make cancer cells grow more aggressively.] Now I’m doing research into over-the-counter whitening products and whether they have a harmful effect on enamel. I really enjoyed my Elmhurst research, and I’d advise anyone at Elmhurst to take advantage of all the opportunities to do research.

Keep Calm and Empathize
When I got here, I realized that, because I had never had a cavity, I didn’t know what it was like to receive a painkilling shot. When we practiced administering injections to our classmates, it was the first time I had been through that experience as a patient. It helped me understand the patient’s point of view. We see patients here at the clinic and work on basic things like fillings. Every once in a while you get a patient who is a classic screamer. All you can do is try to be a calming influence and try to have some empathy.

 

Lauren Morrissey
Rush University, Occupational Therapy

The Rewards of Occupational Therapy
I fell in love with occupational therapy through various shadowing experiences I had at Elmhurst. What I like about this profession is how versatile it is; I can work in many different settings, as well as make a difference in people's lives. I also have the opportunity to build strong relationships with clients, which is both enjoyable and rewarding.

How Elmhurst Helped
Elmhurst really played a key role in where I am today, especially the people in the Center for the Health Professions. They introduced me to the occupational therapy program at Rush University and helped me prepare for it. My advisors made sure to meet with me a few times a semester to keep my schedule on track, write recommendations, and even do a mock interview.

Advice
Observation is always a great way to obtain hands-on experience and gain a better idea of what type of profession you want to pursue. Always take advantage of every opportunity as you never know what could come of it.

 

Jessica Hulesch
Associate Veterinarian, Countryside Veterinary Center

Why Veterinary Medicine?
My father is a doctor, and I’ve always wanted to work with animals. So during my freshman year at Elmhurst I decided to combine the two and become a veterinarian. I like my profession because it is both challenging and rewarding.

How Elmhurst Helped
The Center for the Health Professions at Elmhurst College was essential in helping me achieve my goals. They helped me get started when I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian, and they were extremely supportive through my years at Elmhurst.

Advice for Future Health Care Professionals
Health care is a rewarding field, and well worth the hard work in your future. Learn as much as you can about whichever field you want to pursue, and don’t hesitate to ask for help and advice from your teachers and mentors to help you achieve your dream.

 

Teresa Brtis
Rosalind Franklin University, Department of Physical Therapy

Why Physical Therapy?
When I graduated from Elmhurst I was still undecided about a career, so I worked as a personal trainer for a couple of years while I figured it out. A lot of my clients were people who needed physical therapy, and that sparked my interest in the field. What I like about physical therapy is that I get to meet a lot of different people and help them.

The Elmhurst Advantage
My anatomy class at Elmhurst really prepared me for graduate school. In that class we had to memorize every muscle and every bone. It was hard, but it was the basics. Now that I’m in grad school, I have to learn all the nerves and arterials and everything. That depends on knowing the basics, so I’m glad I learned the basics when I did!

A Piece of Advice
A lot of people look at physical therapy because they want to get a job in the medical field and PT seems like a shorter route than something like becoming a doctor. I would tell those students to get some experience and see if it’s something you really love. There are a lot of different health care fields out there!

 

Marc Landes
Doctor of Optometry, Walmart

The Rewards of Optometry
I chose optometry because it afforded me the opportunity to have a good job that was flexible with good pay. I enjoy the professional lifestyle as well as patient interaction and education. Using the skills I learned in optometry school is very rewarding, knowing I am helping people.

Advice for Students
Be proactive in your education. Ask lots of questions; seek out tutors, study groups and partners. I was an adult student paying for my own education, so I knew how crucial getting good grades was.

How the Center for the Health Professions Helped
Elmhurst and the Center for the Health Professions were essential in my pursuit of optometry. The Center helped me lay out a road map of all the prerequisites I needed to apply for optometry school. Because the class sizes at Elmhurst were small, I was able to engage with the professors. I asked lots of questions, and took advantage of office hours. And all my professors were more than eager to help me.

 

Paige Tsuda
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

The Life of an MIII
I recently finished my first 10-week clerkship, in internal medicine. I was responsible for taking patient histories and physicals, presenting my patient to the resident and attending physician during morning rounds, and offering my thoughts about what I would do moving forward with that patient—what tests to run, labs to order, medications to prescribe. But my biggest responsibility is to ask questions and learn. Clinicians who have been in practice for more than 20 years have knowledge that no book can provide.

Good Advice
If you want to go to medical school, you have to WANT to go to medical school. It must be a passion, and you have to do it for yourself, not for anyone else. You have to be willing to put in grueling hours of studying and to sacrifice your social life. It’s hard—but I’ve heard it’s worth it in the end!

How Elmhurst Prepared Her
I was one of the first students to minor in medical humanities at Elmhurst. My classes in philosophy and ethics revealed a different side of medicine, which has become more apparent since starting medical school. The ethical conflicts we addressed during those classes have given me insight into different ways of thinking.

About the Center for the Health Professions
My advisors at the Center for the Health Professions helped me tremendously during the application process. They reviewed my personal statement multiple times and gave me invaluable resources regarding interviewing, including a mock interview.

 

Eric Bhaimia
Midwestern University medical student

Learning from Clinical Experiences
I recall a member of the faculty addressing my class during our second year, saying, “Learn from every patient.” It wasn’t until my third or fourth year that I began to understand what he meant. Each clinical experience is full of valuable takeaways, whether clinical, interpersonal or logistical. The learning only starts at bedside. A great majority of what my patients teach me comes from the research of certain conditions and disease processes that comes after the initial encounter. As my professors say, “The eye doesn’t see what the brain doesn’t know.”

Teamwork
Working as part of a team is something I now do on a daily basis, and much of my ability to work in a team dynamic comes from my experience at Elmhurst, where I was active in the Muslim Student Association, the Spiritual Life Council and Alpha Epsilon Delta. Elmhurst did a great job of offering opportunities that got me out of my comfort zone—something now expected of me each and every day.

How to Succeed in Medical School
Good habits can only help you if you establish them early. And never lose sight of what is important to you—whether it is family, religion or other things—for they will help you through good times and bad.

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