Matthew Shelnutt - Graduated from CSU in 2010 and now enrolled in Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM)
Why did you choose CSU?
Honestly, when I started at CSU back in 2006, my intention was to finish my core coursework and transfer to a bigger school in the University System of Georgia. CSU was convenient because it was close to home for me, and offered a flexible class schedule. That meant that I could attend classes, stay at home with my folks, and work to earn extra money without having to worry about too many bills. I chose to stay at CSU, however, because I fell in love with its faculty and its sense of community. Everyone genuinely cared about me there, and they were dedicated to seeing me achieve my goals. Faculty members always had ample office hours, "open door" policies, and review sessions. I will never forget going over to Dr. Jim Braun's house for study parties where his wife would cook us all dinner, coming to campus for a Saturday review session in the cafeteria with Dr. Susan Hornbuckle, or sitting outside of Dr. Barbara Musolf's office for hours reviewing and asking her questions about bean beetles and axons. The other students impacted me greatly as well; we shared notes, study guides, and would sit in the study rooms until the dead of night reviewing, quizzing, and making learning fun! I chose CSU for all the wrong reasons, but stayed when I discovered what an incredible gem it was that had been sitting in my backyard all along.
How did your education at CSU prepare you for what you are doing today?
CSU prepared me for medical school just by simply having a strong, challenging science department. The whole first year of medical school is an in-depth review of the basic sciences that underlie human anatomy and physiology. The professors fly through anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, and histology (just to name a few) in a week with as much attention to detail as we had over the course of a whole semester. It was always comforting to have at least studied some of the concepts before. I was always surprised by how much I remembered, and how much I learned. Not all of the lessons I learned, however, were in the classroom. Today I am entering my fourth year of medical school, and spending most of this academic term on the road applying for various medical residency programs all over the country. That's where the stuff that CSU taught me outside of the classroom really comes into play. I am thankful to have worked with such a diverse group of students and faculty. My classmates at CSU came from all walks of life, religions, sexual orientations, colors, shapes, and sizes, and I loved learning about them just as much as I loved learning beside them. Being on the road, I apply this lesson daily as I deal with both patients and coworkers. I take the time to appreciate their individuality, and I think that makes me a better (soon-to-be) physician. Additionally, on these rotations, you're challenged to work cohesively as a team with people you've never met. As much as I hated a lot of those group projects Dr. Musolf and others assigned, in retrospect they had a ton of value because they taught me how to work with others, lead a team, and accomplish a common goal.
What advice do you have for CSU students interested in pursuing your career path?
Turn back now! I'm kidding... Pursuing medicine has simultaneously been the most difficult and the most rewarding experience of my life. It's a hard road, but out of necessity. Your patients come to you at their weakest and most vulnerable, and literally put their life in your hands. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I guess my best advice is to only pursue medicine if it makes you happy. The work and the stress never, ever ends. If you can't find the intrinsic rewards from helping people, then this field is not for you. To that effect, I highly recommend shadowing physicians! I wish that I had done more of it during undergrad. Call your family doctor or your local hospital and ask about observership programs. Doctors LOVE to teach. We spend a ton of time trying to teach our patients about their diseases, ways to prevent disease, and ways to cure disease. This extends to anyone who is interested in medicine and wants to see first-hand what we do every day!
Would you like to share a funny story from your journey to become a doctor?
I am currently auditioning for an OB/GYN residency position in Michigan. One night while I was on the night shift at the hospital, I went into the room with a young couple there to deliver their first child! It's a super exciting time. Mom has labored down nicely, and she'd started to push, which meant that the baby would likely be born soon. Dad was on his phone texting family members with an update about the baby. Between contractions, Mom looked over and said, "What's taking so long? Come hold my hand!" Dad scrambled to finish whatever he was doing on the phone, which I immediately recognized as the one-finger "twirl and flick" of Pokemon GO. It dawned on Mom what was going on, and she yelled, "Oh you've got to be kidding! I'm literally about to have your child! But.... wait. What did you just catch? Anything good?" Turns out it was a CP 45 Pikachu. And shortly thereafter, Team Instinct got a new recruit!