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Faculty Focus: Douglas Storm, MD

Date: Saturday, October 1, 2016

Douglas StormDepartment of Urology

What is your hometown?
Batavia, Illinois

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?
August 2012

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

I have always been interested in medicine. I always wanted to help folks get better and I can remember wishing for a "doctor kit" from Fisher-Price at a very young age for one of my birthdays.

My grandfather was an Orthopedic Surgeon and I epitomized him for as long I can remember. I remember going to the hospital with my grandfather and seeing how he held up X-rays and helped make a diagnosis. I saw the compassion that he had for his patients and how it was his privilege to care for and help them. I also saw how he balanced the rigors of his career with his family life and how his children and those around him adored and loved him.

What interested you to pursue a career in Urology?

I knew that I wanted to do surgery, but was uncertain of what "type of surgery" was correct for me.

During my second year in medical school, I developed a kidney stone and came in contact with an urologist. From that time on, I was hooked. Being a urology patient exposed me to the field of urology and the fascinating technology that was transforming urology at that time.

Rotating on the urology service in medical school cemented that this was the career choice for me.  I loved the mix of medicine and surgery, the urology patient population, and the camaraderie that existed within the multiple urology departments that I rotated with.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

Dr. Joseph Mowad.

He was the chairman of the Geisinger Medical Center's Department of Urology when I matched into residency. He took a risk with me, as my board scores were rather average. He always told me that no goal is unattainable, and that hard work and dedication always pays dividends.

I used to round with him as well.  The compassion that he showed all patients and all hospital employees always shone through, even when he was having some personal health issues. He always treated everyone equally, no matter what walk of life they came from. I try to do this in medicine and outside the hospital.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa?

Even during residency, I knew that the University of Iowa and the Department of Urology Department were world leaders. I remember reading articles from Iowa at our residency's journal club and hearing my attendings speak very highly of the Urology program.  After completing my time in the Navy, I began to look for jobs and was lucky enough to end up in Iowa.  I heard Chris Cooper speak at national pediatric urology meetings and he seemed to be an easygoing guy who would be a great mentor for someone who was still relatively "green". And being from the Chicago-land area, Iowa seemed like a good location to land.  It allowed us to be closer to family and friends without having to live in the hustle and bustle that comes with living in Chicago. Iowa seemed like a great fit for my wife and raising our daughters.

The University of Iowa's faculty members are united to provide exceptional patient care while advancing innovations in research and medical education. How does your work help translate new discoveries into patient centered care and education?

The collaboration and camaraderie that exists within the university and the hospital, in general, make innovations in research and medical education possible.

There have been a multitude of projects that I have been working on that I have needed outside help.  There are no closed doors here. People want to help and if they are not the right person, they will help you get in touch with the right person. It's an easy place to work, as folks want to see you succeed.  In the end, we all have the same goal - helping patients and improving medicine.

What kinds of professional opportunities or advantages does being a faculty member at an academic medical center provide?

Clearly being at an academic medical center allows one to work with students, both medical and undergraduate, and with residents. We all wouldn't be here if we did not enjoy teaching. But again, it's the collaborative spirit and ability to work with other specialties within the hospital and the university that makes the job fun. You never stop learning.

I also find it very rewarding to shape the medical center and environment by sitting on different committees.

Please describe your professional interests.

While all things involving pediatric urology are my professional interest, I most enjoy minimally invasive surgery, hypospadias and disorders of sexual differentiation.

What led to your interest in your field?

Pediatric urology allows me to practice "general urology" on kids.

I saw adult urology as becoming very sub-specialized, i.e. reconstruction, oncology, endourology, etc; I really enjoy all aspects of urology. Pediatric urology allows me to practice all of these aspects in an academic setting - just on smaller patients. In addition, I don't think that there is a more rewarding specialty in urology. We are able to care for kids who have a lot of difficult urologic issues.  Through medicine and surgery, we have the potential to improve children now and for the rest of their lives. This is very rewarding and truly a privilege.

How does working in a collaborative and comprehensive academic medical center benefit your work?

In medicine, I believe it's very important to know one's limitations and know that it's okay to be able to say "I don't know." In an academic institution, I can walk down the hall or call someone to help me get the answer to provide better care for my patient. You're never left feeling like you are on a desert island. In addition, you never stop learning from your interactions with colleagues. You can find answers to questions, but you also come up with questions that remain unanswered; then you get to work with your colleagues on finding those answers!

What are some of your outside interests?

Playing and watching soccer, watching college football, woodworking, traveling, and spending time with my wife, daughters, and family

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

Hard work and dedication always pay off; and always treat others as you would want to be treated.

If you could change one thing about the world (or the world of medicine/science), what would it be?

Instead of jumping to conclusions and then reacting to something, I think we should develop a better understanding of the background behind a certain situation or a person's comments.  We can then take that into account; we can then react to it. In general, I think we should take two breaths and think before we speak.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

The technology that has shaped urology has been at an all-time high since my time in medical school. People now think about things like the Di Vinci robotic system as just another tool rather than an innovation.  It's become like a scalpel that we commonly used to make surgical incisions.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Before making a medical decision, always ask yourself, "If this were my mom, dad, wife, husband, daughter or son how would I want them treated if they were in this circumstance?" The answer that you usually get is correct and will never lead you astray.

What do you see as "the future" of medicine/science?

I think it's hard to say. Things will continue to get smaller and technology will continue to drive medicine. We will need to be smart on which technology is worth-while. I think that the medical environment that we continue to practice in is constantly evolving and changing.  We need to be willing to be flexible and stand up for what is best for medicine and the care of our patients.

In what ways are you engaged with the greater Iowa public (i.e. population based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagements off campus, etc.)?

I have been involved with undergraduate biomedical engineering students and we have worked together on their senior design projects. I also have been involved with other undergraduate students to help mentor them on potential medical career choice.

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