Mark Tom knew he wanted to study medicine before attending college. And he knew College of DuPage was the right place to start.
“I wanted to develop the skills needed to succeed at a four-year university. These skills included balancing my schedule, managing stress and growing study habits,” Tom said. “I also learned I could attend COD with tuition breaks through the Honors program, assuming I maintained a 3.5 GPA.”
Tom did enter the Honors program and also managed to earn several scholarships: the Cancer Federation Scholarship, the Ruth G. Nechoda Scholarship and the COD Textbook Award. The scholarships and the Honors tuition incentive helped Tom with his expenses.
But Tom got more from COD than he ever imagined.
“COD has gone far beyond in assisting me to achieve my goal of becoming a doctor,” he said. “Where I lacked in motivation, professors inspired. When I had no money, scholarships and financial aid provided. Hands down, however, the best gift I received from the College is the confidence to transform my dreams into a reality.”
Tom continued his education at Seattle Pacific University as a Pre-Med Physiology major, from which he graduated cum laude with his bachelor’s in Physiology. He traveled to Puerto Cortes, Honduras, for work in the Pam Roach Medical Clinic through a ministry known as World Wide Heart to Heart. He also ran a soccer camp and soccer tournament for the Children’s Village.
While applying to medical school, Tom worked as a research technician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in its Immunology Program. In 2015, he worked at a rural family practice, the Orcas Medical Center, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands and completed an independent investigative inquiry and public health project. His project involved developing and implementing an evidence-based training program for volunteers in health promotion for community seniors at the Orcas Island Senior Center.
Tom is now in his fourth year at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and will pursue residency training in full-spectrum family medicine, which consists of working with patients of all ages and medical problems, including obstetrics, outpatient surgery and emergency medicine.
“I really thrive on and enjoy the variety of skills family medicine offers and the opportunity to be involved in community outreach,” he said. “I envision living in a rural mountain town and devoting my life’s work to a group family practice, being involved in community outreach and tailoring my skills as a physician to the needs of the community.”
Tom is starting a sub-internship on the Family Medicine Service at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. He also is taking electives in Dermatology, Musculoskeletal Trauma and Orthopedic Surgery, Addiction Medicine, Palliative Care, Neurology, and Emergency Medicine and will practice what he learns during rotations at hospitals and clinics throughout the region in Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Washington.
“I’m also completing my Rural Pathway Track in medical school and participating in Family Medicine Interest Group activities,” he said. “As a senior officer in the Oncology Interest Group, I’ve leveraged my interest in working with cancer patients by partnering with the Wellness and Survivorship Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Learning more about how to care for patients who have gone through treatment for cancer and how to improve their quality of life and return to activity is something I hope to gain this quarter.”
Tom completed an elective on Mindfulness in Medicine and established a practice of daily meditation to exercise gratitude and develop more self-awareness. He’s also training for one of his bucket-list goals –completing a full Ironman.
Tom is grateful to College of DuPage for providing a springboard to his personal development as a student. In the future, he would like to create a scholarship fund similar to the ones he received.
“Many thanks to the College and its faculty for their continued support and encouragement, which has led me to where I am today,” he said. “I still remember my early college days at COD – especially the relationships with my then mentor Chris Petersen and many other professors in the Honors Program – and how it really laid a strong foundation for the work I do today. I am and will continue to be incredibly grateful.
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2017 College of DuPage