Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Silvia Caswell

Meet Dr. Siliva Caswell (DO ’19).  Dr. Caswell is currently a second year Preventive Medicine resident who will serve as Chief Resident in 2022 while earning a Masters Degree in Public Health at Loma Linda University in California.  In this blog post, she shares her journey through medical school and residency as a mom and physician who is passionate about preventive care.

Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil

Degrees Earned:
Associate of Science, General Studies (2009) Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, UT

Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology with Health Emphasis (2015) University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (2019) Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Buies Creek, NC

pursuing a Master of Public Health/Population Medicine (2023) Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA

Hobbies:  exercise, whole food, plant-based cooking, spending time with family, playing board games, and relaxing at the beach

It was important to me to receive exceptional and technologically advanced medical education by faculty and staff who treated me like family.

Campbell prepared me well for boards and clinical rotations with its corresponding shelf examinations, and it also provided me with excellent simulated patient experiences in our state-of-the-art simulation labs, preparing me for real world scenarios during my clinical months.

Faculty and staff knew me by name from the first moment I walked in the doors to interview, to the first day of orientation, and still to this day – they have been like family to me. The mentorship I have received through my years at Campbell, in addition to the opportunities for networking and engagement in my career field choices, have far superseded my expectations, and I am very happy I chose CUSOM for my medical education.

Why Preventative Medicine:
My interest in Preventive Medicine was born prior to medical school in the early days of my 85-lbs weight loss journey after the birth of my third child. However, I did not know the field existed as a career option until I learned more about the field of Lifestyle Medicine, and thus, Preventive Medicine, as a first-year medical student.

The top causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are rooted in poor lifestyle behaviors, and after observing how much social determinants of health contributed to the overall health of each individual patient I saw as a medical student, it was important to me that Preventive Medicine be addressed at each clinical encounter.

Additionally, our current healthcare system has been built to practice “reactive” medicine, and given the overburden of chronic, yet preventable, conditions plaguing the United States population, the system cannot successfully sustain this pace from a financial standpoint.

After spending my PGY-1 year at my top choice Family Medicine residency program, my passion for prevention was fueled exponentially.  I felt my career should be at the forefront of health promotion and disease prevention.  As a result, I pursued Preventive Medicine as a PGY-2 and accepted a spot at my top choice Preventive Medicine residency program, located in one of the five blue zones of the world. Loma Linda University Health’s Preventive Medicine residency program’s focus on Lifestyle Medicine is unparalleled to any other program.  The combination of clinical preventive medicine exposure along with public health projects and initiatives align synergistically to provide excellent training, while focusing on resident well-being and simultaneously improving the lives of individuals within the communities we serve.

Advice to current and future medical students:
Preventive Medicine (PM) residency applicants are required to complete a minimum of PGY-1 before starting a PM program, however, some applicants choose to finish an entirely different specialty before applying to PM. Some training programs throughout the country focus more on population health than clinical medicine compared to others, therefore, it is important to learn what each program’s curriculum entails. Additionally, Preventive Medicine is the only field of medicine that requires a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in addition to the 2-years of residency training to successfully pass the American Board of Preventive Medicine board certification exam recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Most PM residency programs include MPH education within residency training for those who do not already have a MPH often 100% tuition free.

Reflections on your journey in medical education:
While my career path has not been the “standard” or “popular” one, I am very thankful for being in Preventive Medicine. It is so different from other specialties because we focus on prevention – the foundation of almost every treatment plan for bread-and-butter chronic diseases in medicine.

My favorite part of this residency is not being on call, not carrying a pager, not working overnight/holidays/weekends and having time to practice self-care while preaching those same concepts to patients.

While adding school to residency seems terrifying, it is well-integrated and does not feel overwhelming like medical school once did. I was recently elected to become Chief Resident, and I look forward to serving my physician colleagues in this capacity.

My career goals include working in public health departments, advocating for policy change in public health and the medical field, doing clinical work within Lifestyle Medicine (my program allows for double-boarding), teaching medical students and residents within academics, and hopefully one day, to work at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.