Air Force Captain to Emergency Medicine Resident

Date: Monday, June 19, 2017

From the small town of Sloan, Iowa, with a population hovering around 1,000, Brian Guetschow knew he wanted a steady job. That mentality led him to the U.S. Air Force -- exactly what he was looking for at the time.

After seven years of working in rocket launch design in Southern California, Guetschow discovered his true passion was elsewhere.

“I wanted to maximize my impact on others and felt that medicine would be the best way I could utilize my talents to touch the most lives,” says Guetschow, who completed his medical degree this year.

Guetschow’s enthusiasm and drive can be partly attributed to his sponsor father, Glenn Strebe, a successful businessman and current president/CEO of a large financial institution who was assigned to mentor Guetschow during his time at the Air Force Academy.

“Glenn has been a role model in life and always inspired me to follow my dreams, and most importantly, to get back up and try again when I get knocked down,” Guetschow notes.

His motivation was also fostered by his wife Kelsey, whom he met during his time at the Air Force Academy. They were stationed together for the seven years they spent in Southern California, and her encouragement allowed Brian to pursue his new career in medicine.

Guetschow needed one pre-requisite course to apply to medical school. He enrolled in an organic chemistry night class at West Los Angeles College in order to meet the requirement. He also took weekend courses in biochemistry at Southern California University of Health Sciences in order to familiarize himself with what he would soon be studying. Once he completed the courses and achieved a satisfactory MCAT score, the looming question remained: Where would he attend medical school?

Guetschow applied and was accepted into the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

“Iowa is a top medical school nationally, and the price was right for tuition as an in-state resident,” Guetschow says.

Guetschow tailored his studies and research toward orthopedic surgery for the first two years of medical school. He became interested in that field after a previous surgery and interaction with his orthopedic surgeon.

“I realized that I loved orthopedics because I enjoy working with my hands,” he says. “And as you might imagine, it helps that I’m the son of a mechanic, started working on a farm at the age of 12, and have a degree in engineering.”

But his interests shifted when his son was born. He realized he had the personality to put patients at ease in an urgent medical situation. This quality -- partnered with his aptitude to work with his hands and the ability to balance his work and life -- prompted him to switch to emergency medicine.

Guetschow hopes to be an inspiration to anyone who didn’t take the traditional path into medicine. He encourages students to stay focused on their goals and not give up. He points out that he had to take the ACT five times to get into the Air Force Academy, and he took the MCAT three times to get into medical school.

“The only person holding you back is yourself,” he adds.

Guetschow is now an emergency medicine resident at the Orlando Regional Healthcare System in Florida. He has two kids and describes himself as a husband, father, and doctor -- in that order.

stem girlsDuring his time at the UI Carver College of Medicine, Guetschow  was the co-mayor of the McCowen Learning Community. He was involved with student government, played intramural sports with his classmates, and volunteered at multiple other college events. His favorite experience came from being involved with the Medical Student Ambassador Program, where medical students travel to area elementary schools to talk with kids and encourage them to become interested in medicine.

More information on veterans, dependents, and active-duty military members attending the University of Iowa can be found on the Diversity at Iowa website.

Written by: Caine Wildeboer