Dr. Ben Siebert
Through Hurricanes for Health Care - When a pre-med student enrolls at a small, Christian college, some people might question the decision. Imagine their expressions when he's later hired for general surgery at one of America’s most prestigious hospitals. The story is Dr. Benjamin Siebert’s, whose journey, though far from ordinary, was surprisingly apt.
His lifelong medical dreams came to fruition on mission trips to rural Mexico and Guatemala in high school and college. There, Ben got a firsthand look at the dismal health care in poor communities overseas. The disabled bore the brunt of the need, passed over due to lack of resources. It seared his conscience.
Ben attended two large public universities before transferring to CCU, and he was encouraged by what he discovered here. “I had great learning resources, practical labs, and ample opportunities to meet with professors,” he says. Several of his classmates went on to success, including his wife who graduated at the top of her master’s program at Seton Hall.
Turning to med school, Ben found that St. George’s University in Grenada had a very respectable track record of placing graduates professionally. A family friend who was a practicing physician had been a visiting professor there and encouraged him to consider the offshore option. Going to school outside the country adds some logistical complications, but Ben navigated them and arrived at school to find a mountain of books and labs waiting.
As if getting overseas and launching into med school wasn’t enough, Hurricane Ivan smashed the Caribbean island a month after Ben arrived, and SGU was evacuated within one week. In the aftermath, the medical community found the nation in shambles, so they held local health fairs and expanded volunteer services to the needy. Meanwhile, Ben resumed studies which he characterizes as intensely opposite the idyllic impression of the region candied with resorts—in his opinion the education was superb. When the Cleveland Clinic extended him an internship in general surgery, who could argue? The multispecialty center is regarded as one of the top four hospitals in the United States.
A grueling intern year later, with incredible experience under his belt, Ben moved on to pursue his intended field of physical medicine and rehab, or physiatry. He’s now a second-year resident at Detroit’s Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, part of another large multispecialty center. The hours are demanding, although not as intense as surgery, yet he’s found a perfect blend of practice and patient care. “It’s wonderful to sit and talk with patients while evaluating, treating, and helping them understand their issues,” he says. What’s more, he sees it as serving God by serving others in the best manner he knows.
No one expected Ben’s way into medicine would mean sailing through storms in the West Indies. But having learned outside America makes sense, considering his original seeds of inspiration were sowed beyond our borders. The residency is a near final step toward his becoming a specialized physician. He’s unsure where he’ll go next, but a well-rounded doctor certainly has options. Lately he's been thinking about Tijuana’s poor outlying villages, Chichicastenango or Santa Cruz del Quiché.