LMU-DCOM Alumni Among First in Nation to Get Covid-19 Vaccine
It was a historic and emotional week as several alumni from Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) became some of the first in the nation to receive the first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19. Over the course of the year, DCOM alumni have been serving on the front lines battling the pandemic in cities across the United States.
Brendan Williams, DO (‘15), a nocturnist in Southhaven, Mississippi, can recall his very first patient with COVID-19.
“It’s been a tough year,” Williams said, “I remember my first patient because I admitted them on my birthday in March 2020. Since then, there have been thousands come through our hospitals. Some recover and do well while others do not. Not being able to reliably predict the clinical course of these patients is very difficult.”
For Williams it has been a harsh reminder that despite the years of training, there are times physicians have felt helpless in treating a patient’s diseases.
When asked how he was feeling he said, “Very thankful.”
Anne Bowes, DO (’15), is an OBGYN at Baptist Health in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Bowes says the pandemic has added another layer of uncertainty for expectant mothers that are already experiencing the stress of pregnancy.
“I never want to have to see a mother see her newborn via Facetime because she's isolated in a COVID ward or worse, not being able to see them at all because she's on a ventilator,” Bowes said.
For Bowes it is the small things that she misses most, like seeing her patient’s face behind her mask, or not being able to share a big smile and hug with a new mother after delivery. But Bowes remains hopeful for the future with the vaccine distribution underway.
“I'm incredibly grateful for the time and energy that so many invested to get this vaccine developed,” Bowes said. “I'm also humbled that myself and my frontline colleagues are able to protect ourselves, so we can keep showing up and taking care of our patients.”
Anthony Whitlow, DO (’17), a hospitalist in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, started his first post-residency job in the midst of the pandemic. He describes his experience as both scary and thrilling.
“Watching our facility build and adapt new negative pressure rooms and critical care wards in a matter of days to weeks is mind blowing, and practicing in a health care system with the resources to conduct its own medical research and clinical trials in the treatment of severe COVID-19 infections is a thrilling experience, and an honor to be a part of,” Whitlow said.
Though he has not battled COVID-19 personally as a patient, he has seen the harsh side effects from severe afflictions related to the virus.
“I have personally cared for mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who fought until the difficult end in situations where no amount of modern medicine could help them recover. Having to tell family members that there is nothing we can do to help their loved one will never get any easier,” Whitlow said. “My hope is that people are listening to their local medical professionals when we say that this is a real virus, and that the immediate and long-term effects are real.”
After reading the current research and discussing the vaccine with his colleagues, Whitlow said, “I felt it was my responsibility to lead by example for those in my community. I feel proud and excited to be among the first to receive this historic vaccination.”
On December 14, 2020, LMU-DCOM alumni along with health care workers from around the nation, began flooding social media with pictures of them leading the way by taking the first dose of the Pfizer, Inc. COVID-19 vaccine. After a year filled with trials and a pandemic that has resulted in over 300,000 deaths, LMU-DCOM alumni are rolling up their sleeves to be a sign of hope to their communities.
Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, with an additional location at LMU-Knoxville. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide health care in the often-underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7082, email dcom@LMUnet.edu, or visit us online at http://med.LMUnet.edu.