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MedicalDes Moines University has been a founding partner of the Waukee APEX program since its inception in 2014. This partnership has allowed many student associates to gain exposure to different careers in medicine, thus deciding if a career in the medical field is something that they would like to pursue. One hope of this partnership is that connecting young people to DMU early on will encourage them to pursue an education at DMU if and when the time is right.

Gabby Duncan was a Waukee APEX student associate in the spring semester of 2015. She decided to enroll in the Exploration of Health Sciences and Medicine course because she had already been accepted to the University of Iowa and had plans to study biology and begin her college career on the pre-medical track. She explains, “By taking a medical course in high school I knew it would allow me to study different branches of medicine and help me narrow my interests. I also know that it would help me rule out other health professions that I was interested in at the time.” During her time in APEX, Gabby had multiple opportunities to visit the DMU campus, a place where she explains she always felt at home. She observed that the school is incredibly supportive of its students and that the community always felt very close-knit. “I knew through the experiences that I had with the APEX that I definitely wanted to pursue my medical education at DMU later down the road.”

Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Gabby and were excited to hear that she has been accepted into DMU and will start as a first-year medical student this fall. Gabby shared that her experiences with APEX exposed her to career options in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy, and so many others. “I am thankful for the experiences in each of the different fields because, for me, it really helped solidify my interest in medicine.” It was also through these experiences where she was able to observe the opportunities that DMU was able to offer its students. She explained that becoming familiar with the campus and connecting with professors made her feel very comfortable, which was one reason she chose to pursue her education there. Additionally, Gabby shared, “They have a wonderful reputation for producing the nation’s best primary care physicians. I knew early on that this was the place where I wanted to pursue my medical education.”

Gabby is pretty open as far as which medical field she wants to go into, but she does have a strong interest in psychiatry. She explains that she has observed a large need for increased mental health services in the state of Iowa, and she would love to be a part of that change.

Not all APEX student associates enrolled in a medical course choose a career path in medicine, and alternately, associates who do not elect to take a medical course may still end up choosing a medical path. Malia Griffin is also an APEX alum that has been accepted to attend DMU this fall, but during her time in the APEX program, she was enrolled in APEX’s Designing Communication Solutions course. Malia explains that “APEX helped me solidify my decision to attend graduate school, not because of the projects I worked on while I was there, but because of the crucial skills I was taught that semester. Skills such as professionalism, interview skills, how to act in the workplace, how to build a resume/CV and so much more. APEX is what helped me develop from a student to a professional.” She continues “I may not have gone into marketing or computer science work as I was planning to in high school, but the skills I was taught during my time in APEX are universal and necessary skills that apply to every student – whether they’re going into college, trade school, or getting a job after graduation.”

Malia plans to attend DMU for the next 6 years. She will begin her studies in the Master of Science in Anatomy program this fall. She explains that she chose DMU because she likes the idea of DO school over MD school. “Osteopathic medicine is much like Allopathic, they have the same curriculum and pass the same tests, but DO schools additionally teach osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic medicine is a more holistic approach to modern medicine. They put a lot of emphasis on preventative medicine, and look at the patient as a whole, not just a specific set of symptoms. When I decided DO was the right path for me, DMU was an obvious choice not just because it’s close to home, but because it’s one of the top DO schools in the country.”

The Waukee APEX program has an overarching goal to expose young people to different pathways to success post high school. It is always exciting to see the paths that alumni take after leaving. Des Moines University continues to be a strong supporter of the Waukee APEX program, and we couldn’t be happier to see two alumni continuing their educational paths through DMU!

“DMU is extremely proud of our partnership with Waukee APEX, and I could not be prouder that our Admissions team has been part of nurturing it for several years now,” said Kimberly Brown, Ph.D., Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “We are so pleased to welcome two talented APEX graduates to DMU, and we look forward to welcoming more of these exceptional future leaders in the health sciences.”