Michelle Dudevoir and her husband Joe Gratton
Michelle Dudevoir attended the Match Day 2014 ceremonies, but she was probably one of the calmest people in the room.
As a military match, she learned in December that her orthopedics residency would be at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Wash.
“Everybody says, ‘Oh, it must be so nice to know,’” she says with a broad grin. “I say, ‘It is!’”
Still, her match day brought its own excitement.
“It was 10 o’clock at night. (Military matches are released at midnight Eastern Time.) A few of our friends came over, one of them is in the Army, too, and both of us sat at our computers, and we kept hitting refresh, refresh, refresh. Then at 10 o’clock we got our matches and we both screamed. And that was our match party.”
Despite the difference in the match process, Dudevoir’s residency years will look a lot like those of her classmates.
“Except I’ll wear a uniform,” she says, referring to combat camouflage.
The Army is hardly unknown territory for Dudevoir; her father was in the Army until 2005 and now is a civilian professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Her husband attended the United States Military Academy and was deployed twice to Iraq, including during her first year of medical school. He’s since been honorably discharged and will graduate with an MBA from University of Denver this spring.
Growing up on military bases in Germany, California, New York, Alaska and Kansas, Dudevoir, 28, long expected she would become a physician, but when she graduated from Allegheny College in western Pennsylvania she wasn’t so sure.
“I think I went backward. There were so many things I liked. I didn’t think I would do a good job if I committed (to Medicine) right then. “
Dudevoir visited her parents, decided Colorado was for her and found work at the Kathryn Horwitz, PhD, lab at CU. She arranged her work schedule so she could shadow a physician at University of Colorado Hospital on Fridays. Watching her mentor John Koeppe, MD, work with HIV/AIDS patients convinced her that medicine was the right path.
“I was impressed with how he took care of the whole patient, how he took care of them as a person. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
She’d majored in psychology and neuroscience in college, so she assumed psychiatry would become her medical specialty. That changed after she met her preceptor, Jason Rhodes, MD.
“I filled out my form to request a preceptor and said I just wanted to be with someone who is close to campus because I ride the bus. The majority of preceptors are in primary care roles - family or internal medicine. I got a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
“He said: ‘I have to be the worst foundations preceptor ever. I don’t even carry a stethoscope, but I love working with medical students. So if you want to stay you can.’ I thought ‘Well, he seems nice,’ so I hung on. I would have never gone into orthopedics if I hadn’t met him.”
What attracted her to the specialty?
“Our patients are largely active. Even our oldest patients come in and say things like ‘I want to go skiing again.’ You’re helping improve quality of life and I like that.”
She feels grateful she chose CU – a decision that occurred after Second Look Day.
“I always encourage people now to come to Second Look Day,” she says. “I felt a real sense of community, and I think that has continued through med school. That’s not an act they put on. It’s real, and I tell that to people who want to come here.
“I don’t think I would have matched if it weren’t for the residents and attendings. They really helped me and prepared me. Orthopedics is a really competitive specialty, and the residents have nothing to gain by helping medical students but they really do. They see it as part of their job. On my away rotations a lot of people told me that our school must be doing a good job because I had a strong knowledge base and really knew how to take care of my patients.”