To kick-off Homecoming Weekend, Schmid College Distinguished Alumni recipient Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst and his wife, Christine Van Ramshorst, sat with Schmid students on the McCardle Steps to have a real conversation about the medical profession and maintaining a work-life balance.
Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst graduated from Chapman in 2006 and went on to medical school at Baylor University in Texas to become a pediatrician. Dr. Van Ramshorst was recently named chief medical officer for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program within the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. His wife, Dr. Christine Van Ramshorst, an obstetrician-gynecologist, had her own private practice, but recently became a hospitalist. The two met at Baylor University and were in the same peer group in medical school.
The couple was candid about the challenges in their careers and how it affects their relationship and work-life balance. Students asked a variety of questions ranging from “How much of your job is paperwork?” to “How did you deal with the weather moving from California to Texas?”
While there were many pieces of wisdom the couple shared, below are three main pieces of advice they reiterated throughout the conversation.
Learn How to Study
When it comes to taking the MCAT, they suggested signing up for a review course. “…for confidence, and it helps you to stay on course,” Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst explained. He recalled being so relieved after he finished taking the MCAT exam because he was “done.” But in fact, he wasn’t done. He warned students that there are several more tests you have to take throughout medical school. Both Drs. Van Ramshorst agreed that it was essential to learn how to study for exams effectively as an undergrad. Looking back, they remembered how their classmates would often brag about staying up all night to study. That wasn’t for them.
“If you don’t know it by 8:00 p.m., you’re not going to know the answer by 8:00 a.m. the next morning.” – Dr. Christine Van Ramhorst.
Dr. Christine Van Ramhorst recommended eating a good dinner the night before a test and getting a restful night’s sleep.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
As they received many questions related to “burnout,” they remarked on the importance of maintaining mental health. Dr. Christine Van Ramshorst explained that running got her through the first year of medical school as a stress reliever. Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst encouraged students to seek a mental health professional if they felt they needed it.
“Just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you have to do it all.” – Dr. Christine Van Ramshorst
The two did not shy away from the challenges that arose throughout medical school and currently in their careers. What has helped them is the community they have made that supports them. Aside from his wife, close friends, and family, Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst showed appreciation for Schmid College biological sciences professor Dr. Melissa Rowland-Goldsmith for all her guidance and support. The two are still close to this day more than a decade later.
Find Your Passion
Throughout the conversation, the two both emphasized that students should take the time to figure out what drives them.
Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst shared that he loved working with kids at a camp and it seemed like a natural fit to become a pediatrician. As he began his career in a low-income area, he saw many families struggle to get the medical care they needed. This propelled him to work for the government so that he could influence policy to make the healthcare system in Texas better for these families.
Dr. Christine Van Ramshorst shared that conferences can be a great way to explore areas in the medical field. Some opportunities offer scholarships to cover the cost of attending.
“Find your passion. Because that is what is going to get you through all the long hours of hard work.” – Dr. Ryan Van Ramshorst