Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Alumni Spotlight - Dr. Veronica Kavorkian

        The GEMS program is proud to highlight Dr. Veronica Kavorkian with the second GEMS Alumni Spotlight.  Dr. Kavorkian is a Family Care Physician that has called Louisville her home since the young age of 6. As an entering Class of 1990 GEMS Scholar, Dr. Kavorkian graduated UofL School of Medicine in 1998. Following her residency, she sought to control her own path and co-opened an independent private practice in 2001, which is still in full operation today. 


            Dr. Kavorkian knew she aspired to be a physician from a very early age. Growing up with a father who had Type II Diabetes, she knew her calling in life was medicine and that path led her to become a Family Medicine Physician.  Dr. Kavorkian remembers watching the hometown doc from the show Little House on the Prairie and dreaming of being a physician in a close-knit community. She longed to be able to help her patients but just as importantly build the personal connections. While there was not a certain moment that inspired Dr. Kavorkian to pursue medicine, she knew that it was her calling. She was drawn to Family Medicine because she recognized that even though so many different fields of medicine may intrigue you, you cannot specialize in all areas; however, Family Medicine allows one to experience a little from each aspect every day.

            While Louisville may seem large, in reality Dr. Kavorkian calls it a “big, small town,” which enables her to forge a bond with her patients and their families. “With some families, I see and treat four generations. You can see firsthand the family resemblances. It is such a rewarding experience.” Family Medicine is a very satisfying field in so many aspects, but none greater than the personal relationship you form with patients. “I wouldn’t do anything besides family practice,” Dr. Kavorkian says. “The intimacy that you get to develop with a patient during the appointment allows you to deeply connect with them as you both work together to find a solution. It is a privilege and honor that someone lets you into their life story so that you can help them.” Medicine may be the most rewarding profession for a person. It is filled with so many gratifying experiences. “When somebody walks out of my office, feeling better than when they come in, it is extremely gratifying.” This gratification is based on the humanism behind medicine and the formation of that doctor-patient bond. It is founded on our nature to inherently listen and work together to help others for a common good.  

            Over the years, medicine has drastically changed since the age of the doc on the Little House on the Prairie, yet personal connection has remained at its foundation. It has seen amazing technological advancements such as electronic records, which has allowed you to “review tests and records as you drink your morning coffee at home before the start of the workday.” However, medicine also has seen changes that have sought to interfere with the bond between a doctor and patient. Over the years, as the government and insurance companies implemented increasing regulations, it has taken some of the choice away from physicians. “It is more of a suggestion sometimes for the drug you prescribe rather than a choice.”  Which leaves the question, where will medicine be in the coming years? Dr. Kavorkian speculates that we will see a return to more independent practices as physicians look to take back control of the treatment of their patients.

            With this being said, Dr. Kavorkian urges students considering medicine to explore the “why” behind their desires. “Medicine is a calling and you must do it because you love it,” Dr. Kavorkian states and I could not agree more. While it may be difficult, it is an honor and privilege to serve as a physician for your patients. Seize every opportunity that you have to explore it in order to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation. This is what the GEMS program does best. It allows students countless opportunities to explore the interlaced world of medicine. From observing surgeries to experiencing a suture clinic to shadowing physicians from multiple specialties, you gain a holistic image of what being a physician means. GEMS raises one question that you must answer for yourself: Is medicine your calling?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

This year, the GEMS program is proud to introduce a new feature: the GEMS Alumni Spotlight Blog.  

We are proud to highlight our first alumnus, Dr. Chris Mescia. Dr. Mescia is a General Pediatrician and one of the owners of Nassim, McMonigle, & Mescia, a Pediatric and Adolescent Medical Office.  Dr. Mescia joined the established practice Dr. Cynthia Nassim started and has watched his practice transform into a leader that is constantly expanding, more than doubling in size since.  

  Dr. Mescia was chosen for the inaugural GEMS Class of 1988 and graduated UofL with a degree in Biology in 1992. He chose to stay here in ‘Possibility City’ for Medical School as the Class of 1996. After medical school, he moved to Dayton, Ohio to complete his residency in pediatrics at Wright State University. He has partnered with the GEMS Program ever since returning in 1999, as third year GEMS students shadow Dr. Mescia to gain a better insight into pediatric medicine.  

 Looking back, much like other children, Dr. Mescia did not always dream of being a physician. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a paleontologist and then a veterinarian before realizing that he wanted to become a physician. However he never gave up this interest in paleontology and the history of the Earth. While shadowing Dr. Mescia last month, I witnessed him interact on a personal level with one child on how much they both liked collecting shark’s teeth and learning about the mother of all sharks: the ancient megalodon. Patient care is the central focus of his office.  

 With this being said, Dr. Mescia did not always know that he wanted to do pediatrics. As a first year medical student he thought pediatrics was just “screaming babies and neurotic parents.” However, during his third year rotation, he quickly realized that this was not the case. Today, he loves the patient interaction and the spontaneity of his career, “each time I open the exam room door it is always something new,” he stated.   

 GEMS was quite different in 1988 however its focus has always been the same. GEMS offered Dr. Mescia the “freedom to learn everything else besides medicine. It offers the ability to allow students to branch out and explore other subjects that spark an interest.” GEMS allowed Dr. Mescia the ability to take classes without the worry of keeping a perfect GPA. The classes the he remembers today are not the biology or chemistry courses but are courses like Russian Literature or the Sociology of Murder which GEMS gave him the freedom to take.  He stated that courses like these are “what stuck with me more than the Kreb’s Cycle.”

 When asked what advice he would give to students thinking of applying to the program, he urges them to apply because it gives you the freedom to learn about topics that interest you because once you begin medical school, your focus “becomes only the learning of medicine.”  In general, Dr. Mescia advises that all undergraduates pick a major that they enjoy not one that they think is expected of them.  He also encourages “picking up a non-student related hobby,” to de-stress and remind us that we must schedule time to not be a student.  

 We like to thank Dr. Mescia for all he has done for the GEMS Program and are honored to highlight him as our first Alumni Spotlight.  

Charles Shofner
University of Louisville
GEMS Scholar