"Once I was in the program, I realized that the five models of osteopathic care, and the practical use of equipping my own hands to become valuable tools through OMT complimented my desire to serve the Alaska Native people through holistic care.
There were several unique challenges that I had to overcome in order to take up my white coat as an osteopathic medical student. There are still even greater challenges that other Alaska Natives and minority populations must overcome. With the help of osteopathic medical schools which maintain a willingness to invest in the medical education of minority populations, these challenges can be minimized."
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Megan Aspelund is an Alaska Native of Aleut descent from the village of Naknek, Alaska. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2013 and has completed her second year of medical school through A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) in the class of 2018.
Growing up in Naknek was the starting point of her journey to pursue a career as an osteopathic physician. During high school, Megan participated in the Grace to Alaska mission team and traveled to many villages across Alaska. She used the opportunity to listen to the stories of the elders and learn from the people in the villages to understand the various adversities that they must overcome, and expanded on a desire to give back and serve the people of Alaska.
She says a loving family, close friends, and strong mentors play an important role in her pursuit of a career to serve people as an osteopathic physician. Before she began medical school, Megan pursued many opportunities to gain experience in the science and medical field. She participated in several internships provided by the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and Bristol Bay Native Corporation that provided her with the opportunity to conduct a research study to address the increasing prevalence of Type II diabetes and health disparities in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska.
Just before beginning medical school, Megan pursued opportunities to volunteer and shadow physicians at the Alaska Native Medical Center and Providence Medical Center. She also worked at the Southcentral Foundation Primary Care Center Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinic in Anchorage. She says these experiences helped her to gain practical experience in working with a medical team and see the challenges and rewards of working as a physician in the community.
Megan is a strong advocate for the Alaska Native population as she works to understand the associated challenges and health disparities experienced by Alaska’s Native populations. With her passion to learn, Megan says she is determined to pursue the many opportunities that ATSU-SOMA provides and become an Osteopathic Physician that will go above and beyond to meet the whole person health care needs of her community.