Jackie Kretz | May 5, 2020
Medical school can be daunting enough. Throw in the parenting of six children and then a pregnancy halfway through, and that is just part of the inspiring journey of Ann Schmitt, DO ’19.
Schmitt is a family practice resident with Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital—the same hospital that saved her life after the difficult delivery of her seventh child in 2016. Schmitt is profoundly grateful her path led her to the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM).
“The MU-COM faculty and staff rallied behind me, making sure I was comfortable throughout my pregnancy and when I needed some time off to focus on my recovery and new baby. The dean even revised the curriculum for me so I could make up what I missed over the summer and stay on track to graduate as planned,” Schmitt said.
In reality, much of Schmitt’s adult life had not gone as planned. But, after a particularly challenging time and some reflection and prayer in late 2007, a plan became suddenly clear. Schmitt—a high school graduate and stay-at-home mother of six—would go back to school and, then, on to medical school. She would be a doctor.
When Schmitt came up with this plan, MU-COM didn’t yet exist. But she watched it being built while pursuing her undergraduate degree in biology at Marian University.
“Marian University has a special place in my heart. From the first day I met with an admission counselor, I was welcomed and instantly felt like I was a part of something, that I mattered. Marian just felt like home,” said Schmitt. “I knew I would be surrounded by caring, involved faculty at MU-COM, too.” She chose MU-COM to stay on the campus she’d grown to love and because she knew she would receive a more personal education there—long before she knew just how personal that attention would need to be.
“Marian’s campus is gorgeous. There is always something beautiful to look at and quiet places to study or relax,” Schmitt said. She would take her dogs for walks through the Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab. She would sometimes take her kids to Sunday Mass in the Bishop Chartrand Memorial Chapel. And she would go to the intimate Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel inside the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences to pray before exams.
Beyond the pretty campus and devoted faculty, Schmitt also appreciated the difficult curriculum.
“I feel like I am way ahead of my colleagues from other medical schools in knowledge and professionalism, and I’m proud of the reputation MU-COM students have in the medical community for being professional, hard-working, and well-trained in their first two years of medical school.”
Of course, Schmitt’s standards are rather high. “Against all odds, I made it through medical school into an excellent residency, but I know I would not be where I am if not for God’s grace and God’s plan,” she said.
She also credits the support of her children and husband, Bryan. “My kids help each other a lot when I am not available and my husband really steps up when I am working 80-hour work weeks,” Schmitt said. “I stay in touch with a supportive network of former classmates—undergraduate and graduate, as well.”
And she has found a great cheerleader in her calculus professor, Sr. Monica Zore, OSF ’70. “The Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana are great female role models. I tell my daughters they can do anything, that nothing is beyond the reach of their determination. But you need to be gentle with yourself. As a woman, you will be pulled in many different directions—wife, mother, friend, sister, and whatever career you choose. You must make time to take care of yourself,” Schmitt said.
For Schmitt, that comes in the form of coffee, board games with the kids, an occasional run, dog sweaters to knit, and, always—prayer—that get her through it all.
“I try to live faithfully. I made it through medical school with a blind faith that everything would be okay. I tell my kids to be still and that the answers to their questions will be revealed, that they will know in their hearts what God has in store for them.”
Schmitt believes God led her to Marian to be supported and nurtured and to become the best person she could be. She is proud to be a doctor of osteopathy as she treats patients during the COVID-19 crisis. “I am trained to see the whole person beyond the symptoms, to listen and to calm. I will do my very best to take care of them,” said Schmitt, who is inspired daily by the long hours members of the healthcare community log without complaint.
“Now I am fortunate to be able to be with people at their most vulnerable, whether I am delivering their baby or helping them cope with the end of life. So, when I am having a bad day or am feeling tired, I remember what obstacles God moved out of my way to allow me to be where I am,” Schmitt said.
A Criterion article
in 2019 shared more of the challenges Schmitt has faced along the way. Her journey as Dr. Ann Schmitt may not be any less challenging, but her story will likely continue to write itself, beautifully.