Link: University of Iowa

Information About

Alumni Interview

Mike Chapman, M.D.


(84BS, 89MD)

What is your hometown?

Dubuque, IA

What is your official title?

Orthopaedic surgeon at Medical Associates in Dubuque, IA.

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine and what interested you to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?

I have always had an interest in medicine as I grew up in a medical household. My father is an internist, my mother a nurse and I have an older sister who is a nurse and another who is an internist. However, most of my life I thought I would go into the Air Force Academy and then become a pilot. I did not receive an appointment to the Academy as a junior in high school and I had soured enough on that idea that I didn't want to reapply the following year so I went to college. I majored in General Science with an emphasis on Chemistry. After my sophomore year I realized my grades were good enough to get into medical school so really buckled down and decided to definitely pursue a career in medicine. As it turns out, my grades weren't quite good enough to get in the first time I applied so I got a job in the Cardiovascular Research Labs and co-authored a paper that appeared in the journal Physiology on coronary collateral circulation. Upon entering medical school I first thought I would be a Cardiologist but I eventually fell in love with Orthopaedics.

Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.

In my career I have co-authored a number of papers on spinal deformity, written a chapter in an Orthopaedic textbook, and won the John Moe Award at the Scoliosis Research Society annual meeting for the outstanding poster presentation. I have been the President of the Iowa Orthopaedic Society since 2010.

Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?

During medical school I worked in Dr. Patrick Hitchon's (80F-Surgery) Neurosurgery lab and co-authored a paper in Neurosurgery on pharmacologic interventions to decrease the zone of injury in a spinal cord injury model. It was my experience with Dr. Hitchon that first got me interested in spine surgery. My Orthopaedic Trauma rotation with Drs. Larry Marsh and James Nepola is what clinched Orthopaedics as the specialty I wanted to pursue.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?

I chose the University of Iowa because I have always loved the University and everything it stands for. My dad trained here as did my mother. Three of my siblings went here as well so I knew it well. In undergrad, I started off at a small college but found myself road-tripping to Iowa City any chance I could. I soon realized that Iowa City is where I belonged. I transferred for my second year and never left. Naturally, with the reputation of the medical school, Iowa was my first choice and thankfully I was accepted into the class of '89.

What kind of professional opportunities or advantages has your University of Iowa medical training provided?

I would have liked to do my residency at Iowa as well but I matched at the University of Illinois. I would still run into Iowa faculty at meetings and I was impressed that they always remembered me. Now that I am back in the state I still deal frequently with the U of I Orthopaedists and Neurosurgeons and they are always willing to help with our more complicated patients.

What are some of your outside interests?

My outside interests are focused primarily on my family and I also enjoy tennis. I am probably one of the few doctors that truly do not like golf. (Maybe that's because I stink!)

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

My professional philosophy that guides me at work is that I try to treat every patient as I would want me or my family to be treated.

If you could change one thing about the health care system in the United States, what would it be?

If there was one thing I could change in medicine it would be the paper work. Each day when I am done seeing patients there is typically one or two hours of paper work.

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

The biggest change I've seen in medicine is that less people are going into primary care and more and more primary care is being provided by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. I also see more and more government and insurance company involvement and interference in our care.

What advice would you give to today's medical students?

I would tell today's students that medicine remains very rewarding but be prepared for less autonomy as government dictates more and more about what we can and cannot do to care for our patients.

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

I believe the future of medicine is going to involve less invasive procedures, continued improvements in diagnostic imaging and more low level providers doing primary care.


Medicine Alumni Society
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