From Morningside to Medicine 

Find this story and more in the Morningsider (2019 Winter/2020 Spring)

“Medicine is a lifelong commitment to your patients and to continue growing and learning,” says Cara Drew (DeStiger) ‘09, a family medicine physician in Sioux City. Cara started her commitment to medicine as a biology major and chemistry minor at Morningside where she was also a member of the women’s volleyball, softball, and golf teams. Looking back at her time at Morningside, Cara says that balancing her academic and athletic responsibilities in college served her well in medical school and as a practicing physician. Cara Drew (DeStiger) '09 speaks with a colleague at the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation in downtown Sioux City, Iowa.Cara Drew (DeStiger) ’09 speaks with a colleague at the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation in downtown Sioux City, Iowa.

Many student-athletes will attest that being involved in athletics during college is a great way to meet new people, practice discipline, and learn to work as a team. That was definitely true in Cara’s case, and she says the lessons she learned in sports have made her an effective healthcare provider and leader. 

“Most of my friends were from my teams and being involved kept me busy and focused, especially during my senior year as I prepared for graduation, applied for medical school, and played softball and golf,” she says. “Now, as I work alongside nurses, therapists, techs, and administrators, I’m confident that I can work well on a team and be a leader.”

Cara’s experiences in the classroom also prepared her for the challenges of medicine. With rigorous coursework, hands-on learning opportunities, and the support of her professors, Cara felt so ready that she actually found the first year of medical school easier than expected thanks to the tough biochemistry and anatomy classes at Morningside. “It was so easy to find the right person to talk to when I had a question or wanted to try something new,” she says. “I felt like I could do anything and would have the support to make it happen. I don’t think I would’ve gotten that at a big school.”

After graduating from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Cara returned to her hometown of Sioux City to work at the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation, the only residency program in Northwest Iowa. Here, Cara provides care for patients of all ages and mentors resident physicians as they prepare to enter the field.

Family medicine physicians are in high demand, and both rural and non-rural areas need physicians that serve a full spectrum of patients. In 2019, the American Association of Medical Colleges found that the U.S. will see a shortage of nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032 as demand for physicians grows faster than the supply. While there’s no simple solution to this issue, Cara thinks that providing opportunities for students to hear from and connect with healthcare professionals early in their college careers could help pique interest and encourage more students to pursue careers in family medicine. For students interested in medicine, Cara says there’s more to preparing for medical school than getting good grades. “It’s about actively showing your interest in medicine. Graduate schools want to see good grades, but they also want to see a well-rounded individual that can balance multiple tasks and be engaged with their community.”

A decade after walking across the graduation stage at Morningside, Cara is still thankful for the support of her friends, family, and the professors at Morningside for supporting her commitment to medicine. “To provide care and serve patients from birth to death is a very rewarding experience.”