Young Alum of the Month – July 2015

Benjamin Janson

Title and Company:
Johns Hopkins University Medical Student, Baltimore, Maryland, Fourth Year Student

Mason City, IA

Major and Graduation Date:
’12 Genetics and Microbiology

How did your interest begin to form for wanting to attend medical school?
I have always had an interest in the sciences, and I have memories of wanting to be a doctor from a young age. This idea originated from my family ties to the medical field. My dad is a doctor and my mom was a nurse, but I never felt pressured to pursue medicine. I saw the passion in them and how rewarding it was to assist in patient care. I solidified my decision by volunteering in hospitals and participating in occasional job shadowing during my undergraduate education.

Describe your experience as a medical student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
The process of getting into medical school is stressful. It is very difficult and takes a lot of sacrifice. Being a medical student requires determination, passion, organization and discipline. Your resilience is tested daily. The first two years were pre-clinical years. Going into my fourth year as a student, I am currently on clinical rotations. This allows us to learn different aspects of the medical field and aids in deciding which area you are specifically interested in pursuing after graduation. The rotations help apply all of our knowledge from pre-clinical years to hands-on experiences. The journey of medical training is taxing, and I am thankful for my wife, family and friends for the continued support during these four years at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Overall it’s always about the patient. There is no greater satisfaction to me than providing therapeutic support to a person in need. Being able to synthesize complex physiology and pathology knowledge, data from labs and studies, and then integrating it all into a meaningful way that compliments the person in front of you takes both science and art. It is a challenge that makes all the thousands of hours of study, long hours in the hospital, and lost sleep worth it.

What are your plans for the future?
I hope to return to the Midwest. I am particularly interested in research in ophthalmology, and I am in the process of applying for ophthalmology residency now. I have also grown to have an in interest in photography. I like making the connection between the art of photography and the similarities between a camera and the human eye.

How has Iowa State University prepared you for being a student at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine?
In addition to offering a strong academic education, Iowa State University has many opportunities to be involved outside of the classroom. I had professors to support me academically, and Iowa State gave me strong technical skills and scientific background to thrive in an academic medical environment. I credit a lot of my acceptance to Johns Hopkins to the opportunities to be involved while at Iowa State. I was in the Iowa State marching, symphonic, and pep bands. I took advantage of studying abroad by traveling to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia for a course in Tropical Marine Ecology. I also was involved in the cycling club and microbiology club. By being actively involved in all of these activities I was able to develop my personality and I believe this helped me to get into medical school.

What advice would you give to current students?
My advice to students is to follow what you love both in academics and extra-curricular activities. If you’re interested in pursuing medicine, take time to volunteer and spend time with physicians. You must be passionate about medicine because that is the only way you can be resilient through the emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding training of medicine. Never forget what else makes you happy because these outside interests will be vital to your happiness and ability to cope with the tough aspects of medicine. For me, I love cycling, music, and photography. These things help me to refocus when I need a break from the academic coursework.

What was your favorite Iowa State University class?
My favorite Iowa State class was the immunology course with Joan Cunnick. It is interesting learning how the immune system is in a war to keep your body healthy.