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Grad finds no shortage of opportunity at IU School of Medicine - Northwest

Collecting her M.D. this May, Highland alum individualized her education


IU Northwest file photo
Lauren Dvorscak, M.D.

As valedictorian of Highland High School’s Class of 2002, it seemed that Lauren Dvorscak had a world of opportunity at her feet. She carried a perfect grade point average, was a member of every scholarly club imaginable, and was a decorated 4-H equestrian. Dvorscak seemingly had “done everything right” as she put it, to ensure the future of her dreams.

That dream, she told a group of Indiana University Northwest students and faculty recently, was, above all else, to attend Stanford University.

Dvorscak, fresh off of a 12-hour emergency medicine rotation and just weeks away from her IU School of Medicine graduation, told the group about the heartbreaking day she received Stanford’s rejection letter.

“Sometimes, life throws you a curve ball,” she sighed. “Well, Stanford sure threw me a curve ball.”

The captivating story Dvorscak shared next was how she hit that curve ball right out of the park. Dvorscak earned her B.S. in biology from IU Northwest in 2007 and became one of the very few IUSM medical students to complete all four years of her M.D. education at the Northwest campus.   

”And I couldn’t be more proud of the doors that opened for me,” she said.

Dvorscak described the astounding number of hands-on learning opportunities that have defined her education - opportunities to work in a research laboratory, teach her peers, work alongside medical students and faculty, formulate ideas, test her hypotheses, and basically “get her hands dirty” with all things medical.

As far as her undergraduate education, she realized that, at Stanford, hundreds of students would muscle in on those kinds of opportunities that were so plentiful at IU Northwest. Dvorscak also understood that the name of her university didn’t matter as much as the effort she put into her education and the experiences that she took out of it.

“What I found here was something I didn’t realize I was looking for – the opportunity to individualize my education,” she said.

During her years at the Northwest campus, Dvorscak was repeatedly asked why she hadn’t left Gary, Indiana, not for undergrad, not for medical school, and not even for her final clinical years.  The great majority of IU School of Medicine - Northwest students transfer to Indianapolis for their clinical training. Not Dvorscak.

For her, remaining at the Northwest campus for her clinical years meant “scrubbing in” on cases at local hospitals. It meant taking part in forensic autopsies. It meant seeing her name on published research.

“I felt like I would be one of many at Indianapolis. I felt like one of one at IUSM’s Northwest campus,” Dvorscak said about the working relationship she had with faculty and mentors at local hospitals. “It turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life because I was their resident. There wasn’t a resident in between us. It was me and Dr. So-and-So and I had to step up and perform the duties of an intern. And they listened to me, as a student.”

When she did take a couple of rotations at Indianapolis, Dvorscak recalled, she expected to become as involved as she had here. But a different teaching model in Indianapolis meant that upperclassmen were in line first for the opportunity to perform tasks she had already been doing.

“I was shocked that I couldn’t do things that I had done in Gary at the Northwest campus,” she said.

Hungry for new knowledge and experiences, Dvorscak begged for something more. That’s when she got involved in research at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis on the rare brain tumor of a three-year-old girl. It was yet another opportunity to grow within her discipline, and Dvorscak clearly doesn't say no to opportunities, a tendency that has served her well.

Patrick Bankston, Ph.D., who serves as Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at IU Northwest as well as the Assistant Dean and Director of IUSM-Northwest, remembers greeting Dvorscak at the “white coat ceremony” at the start of her medical education. He said he is looking forward to shaking her hand once again after she collects her medical degree on Saturday, May 14, at the IU School of Medicine’s commencement in Indianapolis.

“I had everything I needed here to set me up for a future wherever I may go, and that is the cool thing about an education,” she said. “That’s the cool thing about putting an effort into your own education. It doesn’t matter where you go.”

All of that effort eventually landed Dvorscak at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she will begin her pathology residency on July 1. She hopes to secure a fellowship at UNM, which she described as a premier school for forensic pathology.

“For my entire life, I have taken my education very seriously,” the future forensic pathologist said.  “And that will take you places.”

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Media Contact

Emily Banas
Office of Marketing and Communications
980-6536
ebanas@iun.edu

Erika Rose
Office of Marketing and Communications
981-4358
erikrose@iun.edu


Additional Article Photos

Photo provided
Lauren Dvorscak, M.D.