Rapport with patients spurred med student's match

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | March 20, 2017

Image with caption: Jacob Wardyn

Jacob Wardyn

Jacob Wardyn, who matched Friday along with 122 other classmates, began to notice something during his med school years.

In his first clinical experience, in his first year as a medical student, a patient came out to him.

picture disc.
Steph Wardyn, right, congratulates Jacob on his match.
In his second clinical experience, a patient told him he was an alcoholic, and finally wanted help. Staff had been waiting and hoping for this breakthrough.

To see a list of where medical students matched, click here.

On rotation in a rural setting, a patient told him she was in a violent domestic situation. She and her primary physician had known each other for decades and she'd never said a word.

There's something about him that allows patients to open up to him.

This nonjudgmental empathy goes back to his childhood, he says. Wardyn has a speech impediment. As a kid, he stuttered badly. He was smart, and athletic and he had friends. But the stress and anxiety of public speaking -- even casual conversation at the lunchroom table -- hung over him.

See photo album from Friday's Match Day here.

We tell our kids to shrug off their childhood worries. That none of this will matter when they're all grown up.

But for a kid, "You literally live in that moment," Wardyn said. He'll never forget.

For a time he couldn't say his W's. Imagine being Jacob Wardyn. From Weeping Water.

He was smart and determined. But his confidence was nil.

Then he went to Hastings College, where, "No one knew me from Adam." This in itself was freeing. He loves his hometown, but, "When you're from a small town, everybody saw your awkward stage."

At Hastings, he was on the football team. The first day, where the freshmen publicly introduce themselves to the whole team, did not go well. But later, before the first preseason practice, he found himself sitting with an older teammate, a lineman twice his size, "a scary, scary dude."

This time, for whatever reason, it was Wardyn who opened up. And as he talked about his stutter and how it affected him, the biggest, toughest guy on the football team . . . accepted him. Supported him. Engaged in deep, thoughtful conversation.

Wardyn said the other guy probably doesn't even remember this, but for him, "It was one of those epiphany moments."

From that point on, he blossomed.

On Friday, he made his match.

"I know this is where I'm supposed to be," he said.

Because of his rapport with patients -- and because he lost track of time when he studied the subject -- Wardyn chose psychiatry. He matched at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He and his wife, Steph, move in June.

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Constance Malloy
March 20, 2017 at 8:42 PM

You are an amazing man, Jake!

Aleta Gaertner
March 20, 2017 at 2:51 PM

Thank you for courageously sharing your story and for seeking to serve others with empathy and compassion.

Mike Berney
March 20, 2017 at 8:11 AM

Wishing you the best in your future endeavors. With the focus and empathy you have towards others, you will do very very well!

Josh Souchek
March 20, 2017 at 7:22 AM

Congratulations, Jake!