(story by Tim Gallagher)
Buena Vista University continued its sterling reputation of advancing students to medical school with the addition of 2022 graduates Molly Barten and Jade Hays, both of whom earned bachelor’s degrees in biomedical sciences.
Barten will attend the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Rural Education Program. Hays has been admitted to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program at Still University in Kirksville, Mo.
“Throughout the past decade-plus, nearly 100 percent of BVU students who have applied to medical school have gained admission,” says Dr. Thom Bonagura, Dean of the BVU School of Science. “To achieve a percentage that high speaks to the quality of our students, the support they’re receiving from our faculty and staff, and how hard they’re working to succeed throughout their undergraduate experience.”
Barten, who hails from Zearing, participated as a junior in BVU’s landmark Undergraduate Rural Medicine Education and Development program (URMED), an initiative that saw her shadow doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and more in an internship through Buena Vista Regional Medical Center in Storm Lake as well as Pocahontas Community Hospital in Pocahontas and Stewart Memorial Hospital in Lake City. She also spent time as a job-shadow with a physical therapist in Nevada, an optometrist in Ames, and pair of ophthalmologists in Arizona, an experience that helped confirm her passion for ophthalmology.
“I also job-shadowed Dr. Sabrina Martinez during my senior year,” says Barten, referring to a family practice physician who serves UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine in Storm Lake. Martinez also completed the URMED program at Buena Vista University.
“Dr. Martinez helped me obtain a position, where I spent time screening the retinas of diabetic patients at the UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine attached to Buena Vista Regional Medical Center,” Barten says.
Barten, who will attend four years of medical school and four years of residency following medical school, seeks to become an ophthalmologist.
“A big eye-opening moment came during my freshman year when we dissected a cow’s eye,” Barten says. “I talked with Dr. Kristy McClellan (then BVU Associate Professor of Biology) and she encouraged me to work to become an ophthalmologist. She made me believe I could do this. All the internships and job-shadowing experiences put in place by BVU made it clear to me that this was the career I wanted.”
Barten concluded her BVU academic career by completing an Honors Institute research project entitled, “Motivation for Self-Care of Chronic Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Psychometric Properties of Instruments.” The experience was funded through support provided by BVU benefactors.
“I’ve had wonderful support throughout my time at BVU,” says Barten, who served as a Resident Advisor and participated in IMPACT ministries. She shares an example of the support by detailing how Dr. James Hampton, BVU Professor of Biology, Emeritus, helped Barten secure an academic scholarship offered through his parents’ church in Florida.
“Dr. Hampton retired two years ago and yet he continues to help students here,” Barten says. “It shows how professors really care about us. You’re never ‘just a number’ at BVU. The relationships built here make BVU special.”
Barten’s experiences were made possible, in part, through several BVU scholarships and value-added funding sources, including: the J. Leslie Rollins Fellowship, Henry Olson & Ed Bock Travel Fund, Dr. Albert F. Hirsch Endowed Scholarship, Howard and Lela Pierce Scholarship Fund, and the Norman Swanson International Travel & Study Fund.
Jade Hays, a Coon Rapids native, realized her passion for family medicine through job-shadowing experiences at United Community Health Center in Storm Lake and at Stewart Memorial Hospital.
“Observing and communicating with Dr. Derek Duncan at Stewart Memorial and seeing how he serves patients each day led me to realize this is what I wanted to do,” says Hays, who seeks to practice medicine in a rural community in the future.
Hays was also able to join her academic advisor, Dr. Brittney Dinkel, BVU Assistant Professor of Biology, in studying E. coli bacteria in a microbiology lab during a summer experience at the University of Iowa. Hays presented their findings at the end of the experience, one made possible through BVU’s value-added funding which comes from generous benefactors.
“The research experience with Dr. Dinkel was so rewarding,” Hays says. “Dr. Dinkel was the one who pushed me to do my best and then seek out a future that included medical school.”
Hays’ BVU experience wasn’t limited to the academic world. Hays served as a captain on the volleyball team and earned all-league honors in track and field as part of a 4X100-meter relay unit.
“I was very interested in track and field when I visited BVU,” she says. “And then I toured and saw this beautiful campus. I still remember how many friendly people there were who said, ‘Hi,’ during my tour. It showed me how much of a community it is at BVU.”
Like Barten, Hays earned several BVU scholarships and value-added funds that helped underwrite and aid her experiences, such as: the C.A. Rae Endowed Science Academic Achievement Award, Dr. Daniel L. Wagner M.D. Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund, Roy J. Carver Scholarship Fund, and MidAmerican Energy Foundation Scholarship Fund.
As Hays departs, she’s filled with pride about her BVU experience, a time that has prepared her to consider her service to others in the future. “I remember the professors in the School of Science meeting me and talking with such pride about their program,” she says. “I found a program and professors who were all willing to help me grow.”
(Caption: Buena Vista University graduates Jade Hays, left, and Molly Barten show their diplomas after receiving them in the 2022 Commencement exercise in Siebens Fieldhouse on May 7. Both graduates are headed to medical school)