Westmont Magazine Life in the ER
Mike Apostle ’98 hates to sit still. He spends his energy by running daily, competing in marathons and practicing medicine in the hectic environment of a hospital emergency room.
A 2003 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Mike is a resident at a huge trauma center in Jacksonville, Fla., the fifth busiest in the nation. “I like it because I see everything in emergency medicine — I’ll be able to practice anywhere,” he says. “We get patients with gunshot wounds all the time, and a trauma flight service brings in accident victims from a three-state area. We deal with serious injuries and alternate between periods of boredom and periods of sheer chaos. I’m just an adrenaline junkie, and I love it.
“There are days that I hate it,” he adds. “We get bogus complaints and addicts looking for narcotics. But when really sick people come in and we are able to help them, it’s very exciting. Spending time in the intensive care unit is the most rewarding. Having end-of-life conversations with patients is pretty moving.”
Mike came to Westmont intending to be a doctor. He majored in biology, served as a resident assistant, participated in student government and Potter’s Clay and joined the Marine reserves in 1996, where he spent eight years. He got out in February 2004 because Marines don’t have doctors. A few months later he was commissioned as a captain in the Army Medical Corps.
“I’ve enjoyed my military training,” Mike says. “I believe in what we are doing and am willing to be deployed. I feel like I’m in varsity training every day but never get to play a game.” While he completes his residency, he has no military responsibilities. “My reserve commitment starts July 2006 and I would like to join a special operations command,” he says.
Mike’s wife, Jessica, understands the stress of his profession. She works as an emergency nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. The couple met at a reunion for counselors at Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri and got married in 2003. “My wife is a big supporter of my involvement in the military,” Mike says. “She’s a big patriot.”
The second oldest of seven children, Mike inherited some of his interests from his parents. His mother is a former nurse and his father is a police officer with a SWAT team. During his residency, Mike has trained with a SWAT team conducting drug searches and serving high-risk warrants.
While Mike enjoys medicine, he may not spend his life as a doctor. Getting a Ph.D. and teaching at a place like Westmont appeals to him. “Every time I visit campus, I want to come back to it,” he says. “My life changed so much at Westmont. I became more passionate, more balanced and less willing to accept mediocrity. I saw so many people bring their faith into whatever they were doing, from Frank Percival teaching biology to Marilyn McEntyre reading a poem about medicine. I have a passion for learning that I gained at Westmont and a desire to be better.”
Mike still goes on Potter’s Clay when his schedule permits, serving on the medical or the construction team. He has another tie to Westmont; his sister Kate enrolled in August. “I really miss the academic realm,” he says. “I come back whenever I can.”