While growing up, Kaitlin Dewhirst ’06 considered being an astronaut or a surgeon—she knew she wanted to do something with science. She watched surgery videos as a kid and thoroughly enjoyed her anatomy class at GPS, but she thought being a surgeon would be too hard.
That didn’t stop her, though. Dewhirst graduated with a degree in pre-med from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and went on to Lincoln Memorial University- DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school right after college. While Dewhirst feels as if she’s been a student forever, she attributes her love of learning to GPS.
“GPS made me excited to learn, which is important in the medical field,” Dewhirst says. “When I went through med school, I realized I could do anything I wanted. It’s awesome.”
Today, Dewhirst is a surgical resident in Detroit, where she practices the full range of surgical procedures. She loves having the ability to help improve her patients’ lives, as well as implement advances in technology in the operating room. She’ll continue to learn through a bariatric surgery fellowship in Virginia in 2019.
“I get to work with my hands and I get to fix people,” she says. “That’s why I became a doctor—I help fix people at a very basic level. That’s really, really special.”
Finding Her Voice
As Dewhirst searched for a medical school, she applied to both allopathic and osteopathic programs. When she went to LMU, an osteopathic school, she got a sense of family and that students wanted to help each other succeed—a positive mentality imprinted on her at GPS.
“I was accustomed to that feeling because it’s how I felt at GPS,” Dewhirst says. “All education should embrace the mentality that we’re all in it together.”
Beyond the supportive environment and love of learning, GPS gave her confidence, she says. That confidence came into play when she was job shadowing a physician in college who deterred her from being a doctor if she ever wanted to have a family. While that incident upset her, she was even more driven to succeed as a physician.
“GPS gives girls a voice, no matter who you are,” Dewhirst says. “You learn that your voice matters and that you should be heard. I’ve never been afraid to go after things I want, to speak up for myself, or to show people I’m intelligent. Young women are intelligent and should show it—we are girls of power and strength. The future is female.”
Dewhirst says the rigorous academics at GPS ultimately prepared her for college. During middle and high school, she was able to grow in school and as a person; that maturation process was one of the best things that ever happened to her. She developed lasting friendships.
“Don’t take GPS for granted—it’s an excellent opportunity that a lot of people would jump at the chance to have,” Dewhirst offers as sage advice to students. “Capitalize on every minute. You’ll be a better person and better student if you take advantage of the opportunities there.”