Medical school dreams are what led Gabe Stewart to Newman University. When he graduated, he had many fond memories of his alma mater along with an acceptance into the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.
Stewart recently graduated early from KUSM-Wichita and plans to catch up on some dreams before his residency begins and he takes on family medicine full time.
However, his higher education story started in 2011 when he fell in love with the Newman campus as a senior in high school. He came to campus on a senior visit day and said he felt right at home.
“I knew I would be happy living on campus while also studying and getting involved with various campus organizations,” he said. “It also helped that my older brother attended Newman and had nothing but great things to say about his time there.”
The high acceptance rate into professional programs post-graduation was also an enticing factor.
Stewart chose to live on campus throughout his four years at Newman and whole-heartedly feels that the experience helped him to make the most of his college journey.
He said, “I had a wonderful experience at Newman. I lived in what was New Hall (now Carrocci Hall) as a freshman and met a lot of great friends that I still talk to today. I even met my wife, Kayla, as a freshman as we were both living in New Hall. Many of the friends we made our freshman year were in our wedding and we still visit them and talk regularly.”
Father Jon Fogliasso, the university chaplain at the time, even married Stewart and his wife after their time at Newman.
“Freshman year was by far my favorite year which I can only attribute to living on campus with all of my fellow classmates for the first time on our own. We made lots of mistakes but learned a bunch about how to study and how to live independently as adults for the first time in our lives.”
Stewart was highly involved on campus as an altar server, Eucharist minister and adoration volunteer, a member of the Newman University Medical Professionals Club, Chemistry Club, a volunteer at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and much more.
He graduated in December 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in biology and a feeling of preparedness for medical school.
“I feel that Newman instilled an ability to study hard for the rigorous coursework that comes with completing medical school. I also realized that my time at Newman prepared me to know what my limits were and how to ask for help from other professionals when I didn’t know an answer to something,” he said.
He was also appreciative of the help he received in preparing for medical school interviews and all the many ways faculty and staff aided him in becoming a good candidate for medical school, not to mention the reminder to stay humble.
“If there is one thing that I have learned throughout all of these years of education, no matter how much you know or you think you know, there is always someone who can teach you something. Newman taught me how to be receptive to all of these learning opportunities no matter how far I advance in my education,” he said.
Medical school was four years of hard work, to say the least.
“My experience was definitely harder than I anticipated it being … it was the first time in my life that I realized that it was okay to pass a test and not receive an A.”
Stewart said the first two years were the most difficult for him. These didactic years consist of lectures and tests. He spent every day of the week studying from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“There were breaks and whatnot during this time, but I tried to focus as best I could and stay on course with this schedule to the best of my abilities,” he said. “Looking back, this was very unhealthy and counterproductive. No one can manage to stay focused for that long throughout the day. I, however, did survive those two years and made it into the third year, which is when you start doing clinical rotations or ‘clerkships’ in the clinics and hospitals.”
Stewart found that the hardships of the first two years were worth it. Though there were still tests to take in the third year, he said they were much more applicable to the care of patients. His fourth year was most enjoyable because it consisted of electives that he got to choose.
He chose classes that would benefit him in his future career as well as a few that would be highly interesting.
“My favorite was my two-week rotation with the Sedgwick County Coroner where I helped with autopsies and went to several death scenes to document all of the evidence and collect the body,” he said.
During that same year, Stewart was interviewing for residency positions all across the Midwest. He said he was blessed to receive interviews to every program he applied to and spent November and December driving to various interviews. In the end, he was offered and accepted a position close to home at Ascension Via Christi Family Medicine in Wichita.
Stewart will be awarded his medical degree from KUSM-Wichita in May 2020. Though he is excited about his future in family medicine, he chose to finish his coursework early in order to spend some time chasing dreams and spending quality time with his wife.
For some, that might entail relaxing at home, but for Stewart and his wife, that meant traveling cross-country on their motorcycles. Planning this trip is what kept Stewart sane throughout his four years of medical school; it was a sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
The duo hopes to leave April 23 for the East Coast on their dual-sport motorcycles. The trip would take four to five weeks and the two would be camping and living off of their bikes in some of the most remote areas of the United States.
The goal is to reach North Carolina by using the Trans America Trail that stretches from coast to coast. Depending on the trails within the route they choose to take, the journey would be anywhere from 4,500 to 6,000 miles.
Stewart will also be working toward obtaining his pilot’s license.
“I am working with an amazing flight instructor at Augusta Flight Center in Augusta, Kansas, where I am flying as often as the weather permits to accumulate the skills and hours I need to become a private pilot.”
With a break between medical school and his residency, Stewart said now is the best opportunity he’ll have to be able to commit the time needed.
Stewart would love to utilize his license for work someday, possibly traveling to outreach clinics.
“I really enjoy traveling and seeing new areas, and I felt that the convenience of being able to fly wherever I wanted whenever I wanted would be a lot of fun,” he said. “Physicians are known to be super busy individuals and I thought that if I could find a way to still enjoy traveling and maybe be able to go to places I wouldn’t be able to access due to time constraints from travel by getting my license, then that would be worth pursuing.”
As for medicine, Stewart will spend three years training at Ascension Via Christi before completing his residency.
“I really look forward to the broad scope of practice that Via Christi trains its residence for — procedures, obstetrical care including c-sections and vaginal deliveries. This broad scope of training is getting harder to find and is something that only a handful of family medicine residencies are offering,” he said.
He is also thankful for their Catholic background. Stewart said, “This was a huge plus for me because I want to learn how to best incorporate my Catholic faith into the care I provide for my patients.”