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Couple shares wanderlust, passion for service

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote.
College of Medicine graduates and family medicine physicians, Dianna and Dean Kubacz, have laid down a life path that reflects their adventurous spirit and unselfish commitment to serve others. It’s an all-inclusive journey that has only begun. 
Aiken native and Erskine graduate Dianna, 26, and Dean, 32, a Dacusville native and  Clemson University alumnus, share their love of travel and different cultures as well as a devotion to caring for underserved populations. As physicians, they’ll have a chance to deliver comprehensive and compassionate quality health care for patients of all ages around the world.
“In my many years of working with medical students, I have seldom known two people who are more compassionate and committed than Dean and Dianna,” said Wanda L. Taylor, director of admissions, in the College of Medicine. “They both share common traits – a love of nature, a healthy lifestyle and a passion for helping others.”
Unlike scores of couples who’ve met while in medical school, fell in love and married, Dianna and Dean hadn’t become acquainted until they participated in a medical mission trip halfway around the world in Thouyandou, South Africa. By fate, Dean joined the group at the last moment after another student had dropped out.
After marrying in 2005, they took an international health interdisciplinary course, Topics in International Health and Tropical Medicine, taught by course director Andrea Summer, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the MUSC International Adoption Clinic.
“The course prepares students like Dianna and Dean for the complex public health issues and unfamiliar diseases and conditions they are more likely to encounter in tropical and remote settings with limited resources,” said Summer.
During their clinical years, the couple chose to complete their family medicine rotational experiences together. Though she began medical school a year earlier than Dean, the step would allow Deanna to participate in other clinical opportunities.
In 2006, she accepted a position with the International Mission Board and Baptist Mission Center, working 10 weeks with missionary physicians in Nalerigu, Ghana.
In South Carolina, they participated in a six-week rural clerkship in Abbeville, working with a team of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals.
Then, they headed west and worked in a family medicine externship at Klamath Falls, Ore. In October 2007, they took part in a four-week elective in remote Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Alaska, located in the heart of the Aleutian Islands, and base camp for the Discovery Channel’s reality TV show, The Deadliest Catch.
The Kubaczs will attend a three-year family medicine residency at Via Christi Regional Medical Center, which is affiliated with the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita. The program offers obstetrics experience (Dianna) and procedural training in endoscopic skills (Dean). It’s also on the cusp of launching its new, optional fourth-year international medicine fellowship.
Dianna and Dean are excited about the many possibilities they face. Either would be happy providing quality health care within a rural community somewhere in the United States, or managing an overseas medical missions clinic.
“I’m confident that both Dianna and Dean will make great physicians wherever they go,” Taylor said. "The future of medicine is in wonderful hands because of people like them.”

COM student named Fullerton Scholar

The College of Medicine is celebrating a rare quadfecta in scholarly excellence. Graduating medical student Dean Kubacz, M.D., is among four medical students designated as Fullerton Scholars.
Other current scholars include Lauren Yarrow (Class of 2009); Anna Hoffius (2010) and Blakeley Andrews (2011).
MUSC is one of six medical schools in South and North Carolina that participate in the Fullerton Foundation’s Medical Scholarship program established in 1985. Participating schools include MUSC, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Duke University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University and East Carolina University.
Each year, the six participating schools nominate an incoming medical student to compete for one of two $20,000 annual awards. The award continues for the duration of the student's  enrollment in medical school and is based on a student’s satisfactory progress. Since 2000, the foundation began awarding three scholarships per year.
Eligible scholars must show a potential for service in the health care fields and choose to specialize in primary care and practice medicine in the Carolinas.
Since 1993, MUSC has recognized nine students as Fullerton scholars, which also include: Trey Duckett, M.D., (Class of 2007); Jodi Anderson, M.D., (2005); Travis Johnson, M.D., (2004); Emmeleen Phan, M.D., (2002) Thomas Joseph, M.D., (1997).

Friday, May 16, 2008
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