Going beyond medicine in pre-med conference

There’s more to being a doctor than the technical aspects.

The U’s American Medical Student Association held its first annual premedical conference Saturday.

Seventy-four pre-med students registered for the conference, “Transforming the Culture of Medicine.”

The president of AMSA, Andy Davies, said they held the event to advocate change in medicine.

“There’s many roads to medical school,” he said. “We want to help inspire [pre-med students].”

Two keynote speakers at the event were Richard Labasky, president of the Utah Medical Association, and Dr. William Close.

Close’s speech, “Bridging the Gap in a Shrinking Globe,” focused on his experiences in Africa.

Close accepted an assignment in 1960 to serve in Belgian Congo and helped patients with the Ebola virus and malaria.

“The atmosphere in the operating room was poisonous,” Close said.

Close and two other doctors performed an average of 350 major surgeries a month and delivered 122 babies.

“Death was defeat, my name was victory,” he said.

In his experience there, Close learned a great deal. “[Medicine] is not just the technical aspect, it’s relieving a feverish child or an old man suffering,” he said.

He returned to America in 1976 and settled in Wyoming.

In the past few years, Close has been the commencement speaker at several medical schools in the United States and has given speeches at multiple national medical meetings.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the U in 2001 and delivered the commencement speech to the entire graduating class the same day.

Labasky closed the conference with his speech, “It Takes More than Medical School to Be a Doctor.”

Labasky has been active with the Utah Medical Association for several years, where he occupied a variety of leadership positions leading to his presidency.

The first thing to consider when being a doctor, Labasky said, is to build a strong education, and make sure it is something you enjoy and love.

“The greatest difficulty [in medicine] is during your practice,” Labasky said. “New patients and families are always challenging, and you need to think outside the box.”

Labasky said international involvement is a great opportunity to extend capabilities and skills and to take them elsewhere and share them.

“If [doctors] have no interest in [caring for patients], medicine becomes depressing, stressful and a mistake,” he said.

The event held panels and fairs throughout the day, including speeches by Victoria Judd, Jill Baeder and Samuel Browd.

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