Spring 2014
Student Spotlight

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Dustin Holland and Kathleen Cornfield

Dustin Holland and Kathleen Cornfield graduate in May with dual M.D./MPH degrees. Photo by Matt Lush

Couple with a Special Bond

By Anne Pershing

Class of 2014 members Kathleen Cornfield and Dustin Holland will graduate with dual degrees in medicine and a master’s in public health this May.

When asked about their decision to pursue a dual major, Dustin replied that the master’s in public health was a nice supplement to the medical degree because it allows him to better understand what patients are going through.

Kathleen explained that she wanted a duel degree because she valued information on the social aspects of medicine.

Regarding the education they are receiving at the School of Medicine, Dustin stressed the benefits of small class sizes and said his professors are so approachable and supportive.

“The medical school’s Student Outreach Clinic is a clinical setting in our first couple of years when we got to interact with patients. Most medical schools don’t offer that. It was such a great learning experience,” he said.

Kathleen also prefers the small classes and that allowed her to establish more personal relationships with professors, administration and fellow classmates.

They have a collective dream based not only on their love of medicine and public health, but the fact that they are a couple that has been engaged for two years and plans to exchange their wedding vows at Lake Tahoe shortly after graduation this May.

“Our dream is to eventually set up practice and live in Tahoe, Reno or Northern California,” she said. We are also looking forward to starting a family.”

As for how they connected, Dustin said: “When I started at the medical school, I met Kathleen during orientation week. We began dating soon after and became best friends immediately. Together, we overcame the challenges of medical school. During our first two years, we helped run the Student Outreach Clinic and we went to Nicaragua for medical and public health services, which of course, led to our dual degrees.”

Since Kathleen lived in her hometown of Reno and Dustin lived in his hometown of Las Vegas during their first two years, it took a special effort for the two of them to see each other while training.

“Medical school can be stressful and it’s wonderful when you can go through it with someone who understands and can share the experience,” said Dustin, 27.

“It creates an unbreakable bond. With each year we’re gotten closer.”

And Kathleen, also 27, echoes her fiancé: “We have been able to be there for each other, to be supportive and to learn together. It’s been wonderful.”

Dustin explained that before he entered medical school he worked as an EMT in Las Vegas and served as a volunteer for the Mt. Charleston Volunteer Fire Department, two experiences he credits with his current interest in emergency medicine and EMS.

Kathleen, a University of Nevada, Reno graduate, did not always know that she wanted to be a physician.
“I started college studying veterinary medicine then switched to biology with minors in health care ethics and health ecology. I also took a certified nursing assistant course at Truckee Meadows Community College so that I could help take care of my father who suffered from a brain tumor during my sophomore year.” She credits her father for helping her discover her love for medicine.

She explained that later, she developed a love for pediatrics after observing several physicians and her own pediatrician, work with children. “I am looking at pursuing a career in pediatric hematology/oncology, but have also considered neonatal ICU and critical care. We’ll see which direction I end up going.”

After Match Day, that direction takes them to Indiana University where she will begin a residency in pediatrics and he in emergency medicine.