Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians names Esko resident 'Medical Student of the Year'The eyes of the state's medical community were on Esko High School graduate Joanna Burns last Thursday.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The eyes of the state's medical community were on Esko High School graduate Joanna Burns last Thursday.
Just as she completed her fourth year at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Burns was honored with the Medical Student of the Year Award from the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) for her exemplary contributions to family medicine.
The Medical Student Award recognizes a fourth-year medical student for family medicine activities on a local, community, medical school, state or national level. Candidates are nominated by teachers and/or fellow students.
Burns was nominated by Dr. Ruth Westra, chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota-Duluth Medical School, with letters of support coming from several of those physicians with whom she worked.
Burns spent her first two years of medical school on the Duluth campus and then did her Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP) training in Cloquet under the supervision of Dr. Tom Osborne in early 2007.
In the nomination, Burns was described as “a creative person with high ethical standards.” The nomination stated that while in Cloquet, Burns made herself available for nearly every delivery and took extra call shifts and spent extra time with local services such as the public health nursing group. Even more exemplary, stated nominators, was the depth of compassion she showed for her patients. Referring to her knowledge, nominators said Burns was able to quickly and easily find new information, as well as apply it to clinic situations. For example, last spring she identified the first regionwide case of anaplasmosis, a bacterial disease transmitted to humans by deer ticks, the same tick that transmits Lyme disease.
Burns’ volunteer experience includes serving as a Brain Awareness presenter, a Career Center contact, a youth drama director and a church school teacher.
Burns was presented with her award during the MAFP Spring Refresher session that took place on April 17 at the St. Paul RiverCentre.
“I was very surprised and honored when they informed me I would be receiving the award and invited me to attend last week’s session,” related Burns. “At the time, they also informed me I would be asked to give a short speech, which made me a little nervous. When I went up front [during the session] to speak, the lighting was so bright I couldn’t see anyone out in the audience. But just as I finished and stepped back to my seat, there was Dr. [Ricard] Puumala [of Cloquet], with Dr. [David] Luehr right behind him, to congratulate me. That really meant a lot!”
Burns received an engraved plaque and an Amazon gift card toward medical text books along with the award.
The daughter of Steve and Donna Burns of Esko, she graduated from Esko High School in 2000, one of four class valedictorians. She went on to pursue her bachelor’s degree in biology at The College of St. Scholastica. At the time of her graduation in 2004, she had already been accepted into the medical school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Since Burns had worked in the medical records department at Cloquet’s Raiter Clinic in high school and college, it was her primary choice when she decided to apply to participate in the RPAP program during her third year of medical school. Much to her gratification, she was successful in her assignment to Raiter Clinic, where she spent all nine months of her tenure working with the clinic’s family physicians and spending time at Community Memorial Hospital.
Burns is currently preparing to go on to her three-year residency beginning June 23 at the Family Practice Center for Family Medicine in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The MAFP is a professional association of approximately 3,000 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students organized to assist family physicians in providing quality medical care in Minnesota.
The MAFP is the largest medical specialty organization in Minnesota and is a state chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians.