Chart note led to OUM and eventual residency recognition

Dean Davis, MD, Oceania University of Medicine Class of 2017, has entered his final year of residency at Southern Illinois University (SIU). During his time at SIU, he was named Resident of the Year in the University’s Family and Community Medicine Residency Program at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

“Each year, at the spring and fall retreats, the faculty and residents vote for a Resident of the Year in each class. It meant a lot to be recognized by my peers,” says Dean, who also did his clinical rotation in Surgery within the SIU system.

Dr. Dean Davis and his wife, Missie

Dean is especially pleased he matched at SIU Springfield, saying they always embraced that he was a non-traditional student and valued his previous years of clinical experience as a physician assistant.

“Our program has a heavy emphasis on community outreach,” he explains with pride. “The hospital has a federally-funded primary care and mental health integration program. We are also required to do at least two house calls per year, while ACGME* requires two during the entire three-year family medicine residency.”

Chart note leads to med school

Originally from New Hampshire, Dean had practiced as a PA in Pennsylvania before moving to Illinois in 2001. He worked in urgent care for four years and was in a nephrology practice prior to beginning medical school at OUM. He was reviewing notes his supervisor had written in the chart of a patient who had exhausted multiple medication options for his ongoing hypertension that remained uncontrolled. Dean saw “PNAD” written in the chart and he asked his supervisor what it meant.

“He told me it meant ‘Patient Needs A Doctor,’ ” Dean said. “We were all aware that we needed more physicians in our community. That was a turning point for me, when I made the decision to not just talk about the situation, but to be part of the solution.” Dean enrolled at OUM in 2008.

 Unavoidable delays

Like many OUM students, Dean worked throughout the pre-clinical curriculum in order to maintain his household and medical school expenses.

“I basically paid tuition as I went along. I would work and save money to pay for the next module, which meant I had to occasionally take off a term,” he said. “Unfortunately, I had additional family situations that delayed my studies. My wife, Missie, had a stroke a few years ago and I missed a whole year managing her care and getting her healthy again. Luckily, she is doing great today. Soon after that, my father had heart surgery that took me out of commission for the better part of another year.”

As Dean progressed to the clinical curriculum, being a skilled PA prior to medical school made him a stand-out student from the onset of rotations, success that carried him into residency interviews.

During each interview, he was asked the obvious question — why did it take so long to finish medical school? Dean was honest about his family and financial hardships, which together with passing USMLE Step 1 on the first sitting, and securing stellar evaluations from rotation supervisors, provided residency directors the explanation they were looking for. In the end, Dean applied to four programs and secured interviews at three.

“I applied to far fewer residency programs than most students do, but because of my family situation, I really needed to stay in the area, in the State of Illinois,” he said.

Dean has a 26-year-old son, and his 17-year-old daughter will graduate from high school the same year he finishes residency. His family has a mantra, one that is especially significant to Missie: “During stressful periods, we look at each other and say ‘August 2020.’ That’s when my residency is done.”

* Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education