Matt Wheeler loves music and built the foundation of his life around it. He earned an undergraduate and Master’s degree in music. He was a self-employed musician, piano teacher and choir leader. And he taught a K-12 music class. Yet something was missing – a yearning he couldn’t quite put his finger on initially. That yearning turned out to be medicine.
Part of this yearning developed as a result of his father becoming ill while Matt was in graduate school. His dad was diagnosed with a rare cancer – a sarcoma of the lining of the knee – and this got Matt thinking about what he really wanted to do with his life.
“I’m half as old as my father,” Matt recalled thinking when he heard the initial diagnosis, “and I need to figure out what I want to accomplish.” After a year of contemplation, he made the plunge to go back to school to take the courses necessary to get into medical school.
He told his spouse that he realized medical school would be difficult, so he made the preparatory process as difficult as he could for himself to get ready. This included earning 63 science credits from five schools in 18 months while simultaneously teaching music, shadowing, volunteering and doing all the other pre-med things people do. It was hard work, but something inside him clicked, and he knew he was heading in the right direction.
He then focused on getting accepted into medical school. Matt was one of the first people to interview at MCW-Green Bay. He went into the interview intrigued, and left even more so.
“Primary care was and remains my focus, and the opportunity to finish in three years at an accelerated pace was attractive,” said Matt, who was accepted and is now in his first year there. “The opportunity to be part of something at the very beginning, to shape it, to pave the way, to establish relationships with a community where none existed beforehand…wow! That really had me excited!”
Matt said that several highlights from his first few months at MCW-Green Bay are the support from the community, which has made all the medical students feel so welcome, and the curriculum design.
“Our curriculum has us in clinic with a preceptor once a week right away,” he said. “I can’t tell you how helpful it is that every week I’m able to connect some mundane enzyme pathway or some textbook factoid to a real patient’s disease.”
While he knows medicine is where his heart is, Matt hasn’t given up his music. Shortly after starting school, he joined the St. Norbert College choir and has performed in two concerts already.
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