January 2017: Doreen Ventura

A career studying kidneys may not have been second-year fellow Dr. Doreen Ventura’s first choice, but given that her father is a chemical engineer and her mother is a chemist, she may have seemed destined for science. One of her older brothers has a PhD in chemistry, while the other studied bioengineering and later became a lawyer.  Dr. Ventura pursued her Bachelor’s at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, but unlike her parents and brothers, she majored in psychology, minoring in chemistry. While there, she worked with a PhD candidate designing stimuli to search for a connection between memory and eye movements. This was one of her first exposures that solidified her interest in science.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Dr. Ventura worked in the legal department for BP before deciding to enter medical school, accepting enrollment at Ross University. In her third year during the internal medicine rotation, she was working with a nephrologist who told her she had an aptitude for the subspecialty. “That planted the seed,” Dr. Ventura says. “I realized maybe nephrology was for me.” Initially she says the pathophysiology drew her, but what continues to interest her is “how it incorporates a lot of the other subspecialties.”

Dr. Ventura next went to York Hospital in Pennsylvania, about 40 minutes or so from Baltimore, for her residency. She quickly built a strong rapport with her classmates, an important factor to her. “I still talk to people from residency; I made some good friends there.” She also appreciated the guidance and chance to get hands-on training from a mentor there. “Dr. (Dean) Matsuura sparked my interest again in nephrology. He really took the time to challenge me with every consult and worked one-on-one with me.”

“When I interviewed at Iowa for the fellowship, I could tell that all the fellows were genuinely happy to be here.” After her visit and interviews, especially with program director Dr. Lisa Antes, the choice was easy. “I could tell that Dr. Antes really cared about her fellows and that she would really listen.” Now in her second year, Dr. Ventura values the opportunity to gain more exposure in critical care nephrology, and the chance to really make a difference on an individual level.

Interim Division Director Dr. Rebecca Hegeman sees Dr. Ventura’s ability to make that difference. “She is a quiet leader, working efficiently and willingly to take excellent care of her patients.” Second-year nephrology fellow Dr. Dmitri Nikolaenko agrees. “Dr. Ventura is a hardworking individual who truly cares about her patients. She would be the type of person you would want to start a new practice with.”

Dr. Ventura is grateful for the experience that she has gained in the last year and a half in the fellowship, and she marvels at the difference between her first and second year. “The first year the learning curve is really steep, but in the second year you’re just more . . . aware. You can get things done faster.” She recognizes that there’s always a lot more to learn, more literature to read, but she enjoys the pursuit. At the end of this year, Dr. Ventura intends to go into private practice, but based on her ability to build relationships with everyone she’s encountered along her career, we expect Iowa to maintain a strong pull for her.

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