Class of 2011: David Austin Schirmer

Medical student David Austin Schirmer discovered ob/gyn as his calling through a required rotation.

As the University counts down to Commencement, UConn Today is featuring some of this year’s outstanding graduating students, nominated by their academic school or college or another University program in which they participated. For additional profiles of students in the Class of 2011, click here.

<p>Medical School student David Austin Schirmer. Photo by Janine Gelineau</p>
David Austin Schirmer, MED (MD) ’11. Photo by Janine Gelineau

When Austin Schirmer arrived at the School of Medicine, the self-described ‘people person’ became involved in student life right away. Four years later, a number of positive changes have been made at the school, thanks to his enthusiasm, hard work, and leadership skills.

Despite the hectic schedule of a medical student, the Darien native immediately got involved with several student organizations, including the Student Honor Board. The student-run board is responsible for adjudicating alleged violations of the honor code. He has been a member of the board all four years, and this year was appointed its chair.

Schirmer also demonstrated his leadership skills as a member of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. He played an integral role in designing, organizing, and co-authoring a report to the committee about student opinions and concerns regarding the medical school.

“It was a great experience because it was up to us to design a survey that we thought would provide a good picture of the medical school overall,” says Schirmer. “Ultimately it proved to do just that, and led to several improvements that the school is proud of.” The report helped bring about positive changes that included increasing the space available to students for study and recreation. Feedback from the study is also being used to help revise the school’s academic programs and curriculum.

Schirmer, a graduate of Trinity College, is grateful to his advisors and other faculty members who helped guide him through medical school. Starting in his first year, Schirmer’s student continuity practice advisor was Dr. David Jaworski, a family medicine practitioner in Mansfield.

“Dr. Jaworski taught me this wonderful talent of active listening with patients,” explains Schirmer. “I learned so much and was exposed to a wide range of conditions through the diversity of patients that he saw. He gave me invaluable advice about my career and really prepared me for clinical practice.”

During his third year of medical school, Schirmer was still undecided about his specialty. He had been gravitating toward orthopaedics. He had even helped organize and run a successful orthopaedic surgery scholars group for two years.

So when Schirmer started his required rotation in obstetrics/gynecology, he had no expectations. “I never really saw myself going into that specialty, so I never thought much about it,” he says. But when he started working with the ob/gyn and reproductive specialists at the Health Center he soon realized the field offered just what he was looking for.

“I discovered it was an amazing mix of surgery, outpatient procedures, and basic medicine,” says Schirmer. “I wanted to make sure I could be in the operating room and do procedures but still practice office medicine, too.” He also likes the variety within the field, from everyday ob-gyn issues to high-risk pregnancies and infertility.

Schirmer, who has always lived in the Northeast, is looking forward to spending the next four years in Atlanta where he’ll do his ob/gyn residency training. “But I will miss it here,” he says “I really loved it. UConn is a special place.”