Lee, how did you come to initiate the Student Doctor Network (SDN)?
Back in 1994, I started a free national newspaper for osteopathic medical students. Simultaneously, the net was starting to gain notice, and the initial websites started to pop up — they were not over a single column of text, a few links, and a picture or two. Website programming was elementary, so I decided to take the posts we were printing and put them online. That assortment of online articles finally became “Osteopathic.com.”
Though Osteopathic.com was an early website, it was the 2nd medical student website online. The first was a site by Nancy Sween, a librarian in the University of Kansas School of Medicine. The third medical student site on the Web was “The big guide to medical college” from Jim Henderson, MD. We got together and decided to utilize one forum for all the websites. In 1999 we combined our websites and found under one domain, “studentdoctor.net.” Over time the site grew to include the majority of the other doctoral degree healthcare professions.
How did it grow? What were some of the significant milestones and turning points along the way?
The website has always had one focus — helping students get right into and throughout health professional college. We insist on providing open and unbiased resources at no (or very low) price. Students already spend enough on tuition, rent, food and textbooks.
Providing the site for free necessitates low overhead — all of our forum moderators are volunteers. The site did not break even for its first six decades, and I paid for the site expenses and maintained the servers myself until 2006. You will find many long nights fixing servers at the data centre.
However, I did not mind; SDN is something that I enjoy for our membership and fantastic volunteers. Without them, there is no SDN. Our members and volunteers are a few of the best on the world wide web, they’re helpful, provide great information, are often extremely funny and always inviting.
As a result of our great members and raised earnings from sponsorships and donations, by 2009, the site had grown enough to enhance and enlarge SDN by investing in specialist programming, design and I.T. management. It’s exciting to learn how SDN has increased through the years.
How is SDN run?
SDN is published by a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization. Our moderators are all volunteers. I serve as a volunteer director of the website. We have a couple of part-time staff that help manage our helpdesk, sponsors, and I.T. and project management.
What are your plans for the future of SDN?
Over the years, I had many ideas that SDN could not manage to develop and needed to be placed on the’to-do’ list. But now, a number of these are nearing conclusion.
We’re working to develop more funds to help students get right into and through the healthcare program of their choice. We want to provide additional support along their route.
We’ve got a few cool items coming this year, such as “How to Choose a Medical Specialty” which is debuting in Test Prep Week.
What and when is SDN’s Test Prep Week?
Test Prep Week is an annual event for our members to find out about all of the unique test-prep providers, products and publications. The event is free for both pupils and test-prep companies. The event was launched in 2007, and thanks to the hard work of one of our volunteer supervisors, Anna Peck, PharmD, it was an instant success, and it has grown each year. For 2013, it’s February 18-22.
Lee, I discovered on your LinkedIn profile that You’re a decorated officer and Brigade Surgeon in the U.S. Army. How can you come to select a career in the Army?
Although I owned my family clinic and appreciated my office and patients, I liked my time mobilized with the Army even more. In 2009 I decided to sell my practice and go full-time together with the Army. I’m happy I did; I have appreciated almost daily with the Army. My spouse has supported my transition into full-time Army support; I couldn’t do it.
However, I’d do it. Soldiers are some of the most dedicated, intelligent and amazing people. It is an honour to serve them.
When there was only one piece of advice you would like to give pre-healthcare pupils (other than the use of Student Doctor Network), what would it be?
Be sure you desire to be a physician for the proper reasons. Get decent advice along with a realistic picture by speaking with as many physicians in your desired field as you can. Please do not be shy about it. Most doctors are happy to share their experiences with students who are thinking about becoming doctors.
I have one additional recommendation if you have a chance to take a year off from faculty, take action. Travelling the world for your entire year and get as many adventures as possible. As soon as you start down the long road of being a doctor, you’ll end up coming from the other end in your early 30s, cross-eyed from analyzing, 15lbs fatter, and also a lot paler.
Lee, thank you very much for taking the time to answer these queries. It’s much appreciated.
Check it out. And check out SDN’s Exam Prep week, which begins Monday. We’ll be there.