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Meet Dr. Deb Rusk, the New Assistant Dean for Career Mentoring

Deb Rusk

Dr. Deb Rusk

Tell us about your educational background.
I am an Indiana girl through and through. My bachelor of science in environmental health and toxicology is from Purdue University. In 1994, I earned my MD from the one and only Indiana University School of Medicine. I completed the combined Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program at IU and then was a primary care physician at one of the Wishard (now Eskenazi Health) neighborhood health centers.  I left primary care after four years to pursue a residency in emergency medicine. I completed my EM residency in 2007, served as chief resident and joined the emergency medicine faculty practicing in the Eskenazi Health and Riley at IU Health emergency departments.

Tell us about your background and experience with IU School of Medicine and career mentoring.
I have been fortunate to play many diverse roles at IU School of Medicine. During the early part of my career in internal medicine/pediatrics, I was the medical director for one of the neighborhood health centers. I learned much about the practice of medicine and managing physicians and other health care professionals. This was also my early introduction to mentoring. I was able to help guide residents at every stage of their training while working closely with them in their outpatient clinics. As a member of the medical school faculty, I was also selected by several medical students to serve as their faculty mentor. As an emergency medicine physician, I was able to continue this work with residents and IU School of Medicine students. Establishing solid relationships with students to maximize their success in school and through the residency match is a very rewarding experience!

Explain what your role with  IU School of Medicine will be like as the assistant dean for career mentoring.
IU School of Medicine provides an outstanding medical education and is highly regarded in the medical community. My role as assistant dean for career mentoring and professional development is to build new systems and foster relationships to help all IU School of Medicine students navigate a successful course through medical school and into an appropriate residency for a rewarding career. I will be creating a more comprehensive career mentoring program for all students that will start in their first year. I will be a resource for our lead advisors, faculty mentors, and of course,  students across the state.

What are your goals for career mentoring with IU School of Medicine?
My goals are to ensure that all IU School of Medicine students make well-informed choices about their career path, choose activities and electives to make them as competitive as possible, and receive appropriate guidance to a successful match. The ultimate goal is for all students to have a satisfying, lifelong career!  I am confident we can achieve these goals by utilizing the incredible team already assembled and building and enhancing the existing career mentoring frameworks across the state.

Why did you choose to become a part of the faculty at IU School of Medicine?
I developed a love of teaching early in my residency. When I was offered the opportunity to join the faculty, initially as a member of the departments of internal medicine and pediatrics and later in emergency medicine, I jumped at the chance. IU School of Medicine has such a marvelous reputation, and I am honored to be a part of it.

What are the best ways for students to work with you and career mentoring services?
Students should work closely with their lead advisors, physician mentors and eventually their specialty-specific career mentors. Once  students have selected an intended career path, we will connect them with a specific department career mentor who we will work to support with ongoing training and resources as needed. Students should also make every effort to interact with faculty and residents from the different departments through special programs we make available. For example, SIGs (Special Interest Groups), career fairs and other medical school events are a great opportunity to ask questions and interact with physicians from various specialties in a casual environment. I am available to help any student at any step of the process as well. Choosing a specialty can be confusing and stressful, and we want to give our students the best opportunity for success. I can be reached at drusk@iu.edu or 317-274-1974.  My office is in MS 119 — come visit!

What career mentoring resources do you want students to know about?
We have some exciting events coming up. We are hosting a “Town Hall” event from 6 – 8 pm, Thursday, Jan. 25, in Walther Hall (R3) with our fantastic fourth-year class to help third-year students plan for their fourth year. Then comes Career Fair Friday, 11 am – 1:30 pm, February 23, in the Medical Science Building Atrium. This event will be a casual environment for students to meet residency directors, chairs and other representatives from all of the clinical departments. We also have SIGs for all of the specialties and are working to increase opportunities to participate in more subspecialty SIGs at all of the campuses. Our Canvas Mentoring and Advising (MAP) site has wonderful resources including tools to help students think about how to choose a specialty that is right for them. And don’t forget to visit the IU School of Medicine MAP website to find a list of career mentors by specialty.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies and interests?
My husband and I have two adult sons and a golden doodle, and we enjoy spending time with them. I am an amateur foodie — always looking for a new and great restaurant!  Let me know if you have suggestions! We love to travel and occasionally find a great Netflix binge.

What else would you like IU School of Medicine faculty, staff and students to know about you?
I understand all too well that occasionally life throws you a curve ball. In 2017, I underwent a bilateral lung transplant. I am extremely grateful to my medical team (here at IU!), my donor and his family, and am feeling better than I have in years. A life-threatening illness changes your perspective. It sounds a bit cliché, but I am focused on giving back. My career was always split between teaching, mentoring and patient care. After the transplant, I was forced to give up clinical medicine and can now focus totally on teaching and mentoring. This is not really a new beginning, but it is a fresh start!

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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IU School of Medicine

With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across nine campuses and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, Indiana University School of Medicine is continuously advancing its miss...