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Zachary Lundstrom: The importance of personal connections

UMD Med Student Zachary Lundstrom  
Zachary Lundstrom is studying at the University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth. His anticipated graduation date is 2017.  

As a UMD undergrad, Zachary Lundstrom (’13) enjoyed the research involved in pursuing his chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology degree, but he also discovered that, for him, research lacked an important element. “It was intellectually challenging, but I missed the interpersonal relationships,” he said.

For three years, also while an undergraduate, Lundstrom volunteered at Solvay Hospice House. It was there that is he saw how important making personal connections with people were to him. “I liked the relationships you can build with the patients, getting to know them at the end of life. I liked visiting with their families. You can help someone through that and celebrate their life with their family members,” Lundstrom said.

Now, studying at the University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth, Lundstrom, is eager to become a rural family medicine physician, making a difference in people’s lives. “I’m from a small town, Embarrass, Minnesota. I want to go back to one. Small towns need doctors,” he said. His four brothers have stayed close to Embarrass and maintaining those family ties are also extremely important to him.

Hard work
Lundstrom is an enthusiastic med student. “It was hard work to get in, but once you get in, it’s worth it. It’s a lot of fun.” He finds the Medical School Duluth very supportive. “There’s a lot of camaraderie. UMD does a good job of facilitating that environment. We’re all in it together. We try to help each other out,” he said.

The UMD program focuses on American Indian and minority health as well as public health. Through his studies, Lundstrom is exposed to all areas of medicine. During a four-week internship in Hibbing, he recalled, “I did something different every day. One day it was pediatrics, the next day it was OBGYN.”

He also took part in a preceptor program where he shadowed a rural physician in Aurora, Minn., for four weeks. Lundstrom enjoyed the experience and said, once he’s a physician, “I wouldn’t mind getting into the preceptor program, helping to train med students.”

Lundstrom continues to be interested in hospice work. “My experience in hospice care gives me an edge on handling difficult experiences that many doctors struggle with. I have come to desire the responsibility and honor of being the person to help people through those incredibly challenging times.”

Scholarship Recipient
All of Lundstrom’s efforts were rewarded when he received the Benjamin P. Owens, M.D. Endowed Scholarship. Owens practiced medicine in Hibbing for five decades. He was devoted to his rural practice and is credited with making over 9,000 house calls well in the 1980s. Owens once estimated that he had made 342,000 patient and hospital visits. In addition to his family practice, Owens served as a clinical associate professor for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Medical School in the early stages of its development.

Lundstrom is deeply appreciative to have received the Owens scholarship. “It’s hard to express how grateful I am. Pursuing a career in medicine has been my dream for a long time and this scholarship takes away some of the burden that I knew would accompany this pursuit. It will be paid forward to the generations to come,” he said.

When his schedule allows, he still volunteers at Solvay Hospice House. Those who can, offer their hands and their hearts.

UMD: Those Who Can, Duluth

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann

December 2014

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UMD News Feature editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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