Oh, how times have changed! Seventy-five years ago Doran A. Farnum, DO, ’36, was a 23-year-old graduate of KCOM. Today, ATSU’s oldest alum – at 99 years old – is talking shop with second-year students Ben Cook and Lindsay Lucado.
Still Magazine (SM): Tell me about the atmosphere of the classes of 2014 and 1936.
Ben Cook (BC): Our class is very laid back. We embody the “work hard, play hard” mantra. We are unique and are going to leave our mark on the world.
Doran A. Farnum, DO, ’36, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., has practiced osteopathic manipulative medicine for more than 75 years – and still practices today at age 99.
Doran Farnum (DF): There were those that belonged to a fraternity and those that didn’t. I belonged to Theta Psi, a medical fraternity, and it was the only one that had a fraternity house. We had our own building with three floors.
We were close. We came from every state in the Union, Canada, and one from England. I roomed with three people, and we were always together.
My father belonged to the same fraternity.
Lindsay Lucado (LL): Everyone is willing to share resources. We study hard, and our averages prove it. It isn’t competitive, though. People encourage each other and don’t brag about their performances. We think outside the box and create new traditions.
DF: We had about 135 students – 20 were women. One was a mother/daughter duo in my class. We had one man who was 55 who had a doctorate in something else but had taken up osteopathy. Only one man was married. Period. And he didn’t have any kids.
SM: Why did you choose osteopathic medicine?
LL: I learned about it in college but later found out that I was delivered by a DO. He was a family friend, and with his encouragement I pursued osteopathic medicine. It seemed like the best choice.
DF: My father was a DO, and I learned from him. I never had an MD touch me until I was 52 years old and needed to get vaccinated to go to Australia.
Ben Cook, OMS II, student ambassador, Rolla, Mo., says he is still trying to decide his career plans. “Although I have marked certain areas of medicine off my list of possibilities, I am going to keep my options open until I have to make a choice,” Cook says. “Hopefully with more shadowing I will find something that chooses me.”
BC: My dad was also a DO, and when I was young I would go to his office and watch him. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor and be like my dad. What really drew me, though, was my family doctor. I thought he was one of the most interesting people in the world. I shadowed him and many other DOs when I first started. When I shadowed an MD in college, it was interesting to see the difference in bedside manner and how they treated patients.
SM: What’s your favorite class?
DF: Anatomy. I took four years of it. The first year was gross anatomy and the next year was dissection. Then came surgical anatomy, and I forget what the fourth year was. They tested you by cutting a forearm open and showing it to you and asking you to identify the tissues.
BC: That makes our practicals look like nothing!
LL: My favorite is anatomy, too. It is a never-ending journey. Every time I open an anatomy text I learn something new or see a relationship in a different way.
BC: I like all of them, but if I had to pick, it would be histology and infectious diseases. Dr. Kondrashov and the microbiology department are so excited about the information that they teach it is infectious. You can’t help but enjoy what is being taught, strive to do well, and participate in class. Plus, the professors want you to do well and you can really tell. It reinforces that I made the right choice in coming here. I would gladly take these classes again.
SM: The world of medical education has changed dramatically in the last 75 years. What were the rules in 1936 vs. today?
DF: My fourth year I interned at a hospital. You weren’t supposed to, but we did. I was out of school in four years and did my internship. It was nice!
I graduated at 23 years old. You didn’t have to have an undergrad degree to enter medical school at the time, not until the late ’30s. Grammar school was for only nine years.
BC: We are encouraged to be as involved as we can in national organizations to start networking and to push the field of medicine forward. With a decreased number of residency spots and the scramble to find what you like, there is a big push for students to make these connections early.
There is also an expectation for students to push osteopathic medicine to new heights and areas of the world. That is why I have become so involved – not only fill those expectations, but to continue the work of past generations.
DF: We had no final exams. We took Missouri Boards at the end of our second year and the second half of the Boards at the end of our fourth year.
When I started there were no medicines – just a couple for pain. I wrote my first prescription in Latin. I saw the pharmacist four days later and he said, “You don’t really have to write it in Latin. I had to look that up, you know!”
Lindsay Lucado, OMS III, student ambassador, OMM fellow, Wesley Chapel, Fla., plans to go into women’s health. “I am thinking of doing a family medicine residency with a focus in women’s health. I would like to be able to see a patient all the way from conception to delivery to pediatrics,” says Lucado. “That continuity of care is especially important in the relationship between a woman and her delivering physician.”
LL: Pharmacology would have been so much easier back then! I see why so many physicians, including DOs, have turned to relying on drugs. Back then you didn’t have very many drugs to prescribe, so using your hands was a much better option. Now there are so many drugs to choose from that physicians tend to think of those rather than using their hands. The problem lies in that often pharmacology involves only treating symptoms instead of the actual problem.
SM: What was the best thing about Kirksville in 1936? Today?
DF: Owl drugstore for sodas downtown.
BC: The low cost of living! And there is so much to do outdoors. I like that it is small town and that everyone says “hi” to each other. You couldn’t ask for a better place to live.