Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Silvia Caswell – Blogs

Meet Dr. Silva Caswell (DO ’19). dr. Caswell is currently a sophomore resident of Preventive Medicine who will serve as Chief Resident in 2022 while earning a Masters Degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University in California. In this blog post, she shares her journey through medical school and residency as a mother and physician with a passion for preventive care.

Residence: Curitiba, Brazil

Achieved diplomas:
Associate of Science, General Studies (2009) Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, UT

Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology with an emphasis on health (2015) University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (2019) Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Buies Creek, NC

pursuing a Master of Public Health/Population Medicine (2023) Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA

Hobbies: exercising, whole foods, plant-based cooking, spending time with the family, playing board games and relaxing on the beach

It was important to me to receive exceptional and technologically advanced medical training from teachers and staff who treated me like family.

Campbell prepared me well for boards and clinical rotations with the associated shelf exams, and it also provided me with excellent simulated patient experiences in our state-of-the-art simulation labs, preparing me for real-world scenarios during my clinical months.

The faculty and staff knew me by name from the first moment I walked in the door for an interview, to the first day of orientation, and still to this day – they have been like family to me. The mentorship I have received during my years at Campbell, in addition to the opportunities for networking and involvement in my career choices, has far exceeded my expectations, and I am very pleased that I chose CUSOM for my medical education.

Why preventive medicine:
My interest in preventive medicine was born prior to medical school in the early days of my 85 pound weight loss journey after the birth of my third child. However, I didn’t realize the field existed as a career opportunity until I learned more about the field of Lifestyle Medicine, and thus Preventive Medicine, as a freshman medical student.

The leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are rooted in poor lifestyles, and after seeing how many social determinants of health contributed to the overall health of each individual patient I saw as a medical student, it was important to me that Preventive Medicine is brought up at every clinical meeting.

In addition, our current health care system is built to practice “reactive” medicine, and given the overload of chronic but preventable conditions that plague the American population, the system cannot successfully maintain this pace from a financial standpoint.

After spending my PGY-1 year in my premier family medicine residency program, my passion for prevention was fueled exponentially. I felt that my career should be at the forefront of health promotion and disease prevention. As a result, I took Preventive Medicine as a PGY-2 and accepted a spot on my First Choice Preventive Medicine residency program, located in one of the five blue zones of the world. Loma Linda University Health’s Preventive Medicine residency programs focus on Lifestyle Medicine is unmatched to any other program. The combination of clinical preventive medicine exposure along with public health projects and initiatives synergistically align to provide excellent training, while focusing on the well-being of residents while improving the lives of individuals within the communities we serve.

Advice to current and future medical students:
Preventive medicine (PM) applicants must complete a minimum of PGY-1 before entering a PM program, but some applicants choose to complete an entirely different specialty before applying for PM. Some training programs across the country focus more on the health of the population than on clinical medicine compared to others, which is why it is important to learn what each program’s curriculum entails. In addition, Preventive Medicine is the only field of medicine that requires a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in addition to the 2-year residency degree to successfully pass the American Board of Preventive Medicine certification exam, recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Most PM residency programs include MPH education within residency training for those who do not yet have an MPH, often 100% tuition-free.

Reflections on your journey in medical education:
While my career path has not been the “standard” or “popular” path, I am very grateful to be in preventive medicine. It’s so different from other specialties because we focus on prevention – the foundation of almost every chronic disease treatment plan in medicine.

My favorite part of this residency is that I’m unreachable, don’t have a pager with me, don’t work nights/holidays/weekends, and have time to self-care while preaching the same concepts to patients.

While adding school to residency may seem daunting, it’s well integrated and doesn’t feel overwhelming like medical school once did. I was recently elected to be the Chief Resident and I look forward to serving my physician colleagues in this capacity.

My career goals include working in public health departments, advocating for policy change in the public health and medical field, doing clinical work within Lifestyle Medicine (my program allows for double boarding), teaching medical students and residents within academics, and hopefully one day, to work at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

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