It's been five years since Josue Gutierrez graduated from University of the Ozarks with a degree in biology and a dream to become a family physician. That dream is now close to a reality.
Gutierrez, a 2009 Ozarks graduate, is completing his first year of a three-year residency at a medical clinic in Lincoln, Neb. The native of Guatemala graduated from medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in 2013 and is doing his residency in the heartland of America in the area of family medicine.
Josue Gutierrez is a family physician in his first year of a three-year residency program in Lincoln, Neb.
"My passion has always been family medicine," said Gutierrez. "A family medicine physician is able to see a patient from cradle to grave. I was always interested in many aspects of medicine, and this specialty provided me a broad area of study and an opportunity to really make a difference in people’s lives. As a resident, I’m able to refine my skills and obtain experience while under supervision. My duties include clinic work, hospital rounds, obstetrics and at times minor office procedures such as screening colonoscopies."
After graduating from Ozarks, Gutierrez shone in medical school at UAMS, serving as class president throughout his four years there and getting involved in numerous leadership opportunities with the American Academy of Family Practice. He credits his undergraduate education at Ozarks for preparing him for the rigors of medical school.
"Ozarks did a great job in training me for medical school," he said. "Many individuals relate going to medical school as trying to drink from a fire hose; let me tell you those words are true. My basic science classes such as biochemistry and cell biology given by the science faculty at Ozarks prepared me appropriately for the task ahead. Dr. Sean Coleman as well as Dr. Brian McFarland did a great job in teaching those classes. The study skills that were encouraged at Ozarks served me well during medical school. Ozarks taught me how to stay on task and with my eyes on my goal, which was to be a doctor. Leadership skills I learned when I served as president of the Ozarks Biological Society and Tri-Beta Biological Society at Ozarks also aided me when I became president of my class in medical school."
The volume of information that a medical student must absorb is one of the most difficult aspects of medical school, Gutierrez said.
"It can definitely be overwhelming," he said. "I just had to take a deep breath and take breaks during my study hours, which were substantial. You had to constantly remind yourself why you went into medicine in the first place. Focusing on the next test and living from test to test was tough, but it was all worth it in the end. You have to be in medicine because you want to impact others’ lives, and you have to be passionate about medicine. If you are not, it will be much tougher."
Getting into medical school can also be a difficult and stressful time, and Gutierrez praised the faculty members at Ozarks for helping him through the process.
"It’s not an easy process and my professors certainly helped every step of the way," he said. "The small classes at Ozarks helped me not only get through the tough academic subjects, but they made sure I really knew the information. It was easy to ask a question to my professors when something needed clarification. I was also able to attend a summer internship at Johns Hopkins Medical School that would not have been possible if I had not help in the application process from U of O professors. All the extracurricular activities and leaderships positions helped show medical schools that I was a strong candidate and ready for the medical curriculum."
Gutierrez advised students planning to pursue a career in medicine to "shadow" doctors in various fields and specialties.
"Get to know different specialties and see first-hand whether or not you want to be in that field," he said. "I’d also advise students in college to get involved. Do not only be a member, be a leader. Show your passion and dedication for medicine by doing volunteer work, extracurricular activities and internships. Keep your grades up and start studying for the MCAT early. And, continue to shadow physicians while in college and continually assess your desire to be in this great profession."
Gutierrez hopes to return to the Clarksville area to practice family medicine after he completes his residency.
"I am passionate about rural family medicine because it allows you to put into practice all of the skills you learned through medical school and in your residency," he said. "I will be able to practice obstetrics, see patients in the hospital, and have clinic hours, and so much more. "