“I want to be an effective educator in medicine someday, and the tutoring prepares me for that.”
Spend a few minutes talking to Todd Stollenwerk, who is earning his MD and PhD in the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Medical Scientist Training Program, and you walk away hoping he will be your physician someday. He is mild-mannered, even-keeled, and passionate about giving people hope. This last point is a big reason why he spends so much time tutoring his fellow students.
“I want to be an effective educator in medicine someday, and the tutoring prepares me for that,” Todd said. “Also, it is really fulfilling to be able to give hope to people at the times when they feel hopeless and want to give up.”
Todd did mission work in Chile for two years while an undergrad student, and the experience made him realize something about his professional desires. He left for the trip planning to get his PhD when he returned, but after spending 10-12 hours every day interacting one-on-one with people, he decided to become an MD as well.
“After the mission trip, I realized I wanted to help people on a more personal level, and becoming a physician will provide me with that fulfillment,” he said. “But I still want to increase our knowledge of medicine and disease, so I’m pursuing my PhD as well.”
Todd just finished his second year in medical school. This fall, he will begin his doctorate work, which should take four years, and then he will complete his final two years of medical school. He knows that after all the school work and training is done, he wants to be an educator, but he is still exploring what specialty to go into. He did cardiovascular research at MCW while in high school and college, and plans to continue with the neurosciences, but may focus on schizophrenia.
“Right now, I’m thinking my research and medical specialty may center around mental illness,” Todd said. “There is a movement toward understanding the interaction between physical illness and mental illness, and I’d like to be a part of that.”
Let’s hope he does.