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Java Tunson

A Clear Future

Java Tunson doesn’t remember a time when there wasn’t a plan.

“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.”

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 their potential.“

As much as she loved teaching, she knew it wasn’t her career.

“I had a plan,” she says, and that was medical school.

Fortunately, she finds education and medicine “inextricably linked.”

“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.”