Java Tunson doesn’t remember a time when there wasn’t a
“I always wanted to be a doctor ever since I can remember,”
she says. “I can remember in kindergarten I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Then
in high school I wanted to do pediatrics because I like kids. Then it became
Emergency medicine won out for several reasons, primarily
the breadth of knowledge expected of an emergency department physician, the
diverse pathology of the patient population, the come-one, come-all nature of
the emergency room.
Once that was settled, it became obvious to Tunson that the specialty would fit into another part of the plan.
“I always wanted to be a mother,” says Tunson, 28 and single
with no kids - yet.” It’s a really good specialty for women with a family
because you can set your schedule."
She prepared for her residency at Denver Health by spending
time in Spain this spring taking Spanish classes.
“I could get through a basic exam with a patient but I
didn’t feel like I was really communicating,” said Tunson, who plans to do a
two-year pediatrics fellowship following her four-year residency. “Now I feel
like I can hold a basic conversation. I feel more comfortable with patients.”
Before entering medical school, Tunson took advantage of her
love of children by spending a year teaching sixth-grade special education
students. Some had developmental delays but most had problems because of
poverty, broken homes or their parents’ drugs and alcohol abuse.
“It was really painful," said Tunson who grew up in Manitou Springs and taught in Colorado Springs. "They all had infinite potential at some point, and just a few
years later, at such a young age, life had already started to alter that
potential. Some had a bleak future; some with great mentoring and support could
still continue on to a bright future despite what life was presenting them, and
some were lucky enough to have a strong foundation to reap the benefits of
As much as she loved teaching, she knew it wasn’t her
“I had a plan,” she says, and that was medical school.
Fortunately, she finds education and medicine “inextricably
“You get to interject during a vulnerable point in people’s
life. You can change someone’s path.”
And if all goes well, “I’d love to teach through my career.
“That’s the plan.”