Mike Stewart black and white

Meet Mike Stewart: One of the FSU MRU’s Supervisors!

This week Her Campus was able to chat with Mike Stewart about his role as an educator both at the FSU Medical Response Unit and online! We are very thankful for the wonderful insight and information he gave. Please continue to read to find out more about his role, his advice for students interested in medicine and more.

Her Campus (HC): Can you say a little about yourself and what your role is at FSU’s MRU?

Mike Stewart (MS): I am a supervisor for Florida State University’s Medical Response Unit (MRU). The MRU is a student-volunteer organization that provides quick response and basic medical care to our campus community. The MRU is made up of over 100 trained students that volunteer to work weekly shifts and cover special events throughout the school year to quickly deliver medical attention to students, staff and visitors when needed. I had the privilege of joining the MRU staff this past year after building experience as a 9-1-1 responding paramedic in rural and urban EMS systems, as a critical care paramedic, building an online educational platform for pre-hospital students and professionals and as an adjunct instructor for Tallahassee Community College’s EMS program. This latest opportunity allows me to be a support to MRU’s incredible student-volunteers as they practice and use their newly learned medical skills to care for FSU’s campus community. I am beyond fortunate to play a small part in the early education and development of our future medical leaders.

Mike with plaid shirt

HC:  When did you realize you had a passion for medicine? Was emergency medicine always the plan?

MS: My entrance into healthcare was unintentional. I come from a law enforcement and military family. Likewise, I was going to school for criminal justice and intended to pursue a career in law enforcement. Simply to pad my law enforcement resume, I took an EMT class only to obtain the certification. It was through that EMT course that I quickly found a better fit for me to serve my community and care for people. I changed direction and never looked back. As I sometimes tell people, I went from pursuing blue lights to pursuing red lights.

HC: I love that phrase! Speaking of healthcare, what advice do you have for those interested in medicine?

MS: Holocaust survivor, neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is quoted to have said, “Those who have a ‘why' to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.'” As students’ progress through their medical education and training, the rigor of this process will occasionally stress and press students to their limits. I would encourage a student at that time, to remember their "why." Why did you get into this? Why did you choose this line of study? Why did you put yourself in this demanding program? As Viktor Frankl lived and taught, a focus on the "why" can empower a person to withstand almost any "how." Keep your eye on the prize, withstand the temporary hits, and keep pushing forward.

HC:  I think a lot of students interested in medicine could use a Viktor Frankl in their lives! Have you ever doubted yourself and your ability to achieve the goals you wanted? If so, what advice can you give those who are experiencing those doubts?

MS: Of course, I have! I remember when I was a new medic and in charge of my own ambulance working 24-hour shifts in a rural county. I would lay in my bunk at the station at night, wide awake and terrified of what emergency I would be dispatched to at any minute. I knew that people’s lives could depend on the decisions I would make that night. The stakes were unbelievably high, and I felt sorely inadequate. My repeated advice to myself then, and still now, was to focus on what I could control. I could not control the types of emergencies or circumstances that would confront me, but I could control my knowledge, my emotions, and my responses. If I continually controlled and improved those three things, then I was doing as much as I could expect of myself. I can sleep easier with that.

HC: That’s a really great way to control self-doubt. From those experiences, what is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned throughout your journey to your current position?

MS: As a paramedic, I have witnessed the things that make up nightmares. I have seen things I wish I could forever forget. I have been shocked countless times to see the horrible things people will do to each other and to themselves. I could easily let those memories haunt me, but they don't. Because in my career as a paramedic, there was another side of things I got to witness. I saw people helping other people. I witnessed healing and recovery. I was able to be a comfort on many people's worst days. I have witnessed a new life take a first breath. When the dark images creep back into my mind, I consciously remind myself of the good…and yes, the heavy majority was so good!

Mike and student

HC: It’s such a wonderful thing that you can see the bright side of things even when you have every reason not to! It also seems that you use your experiences to educate others and make a difference. You have amassed a large following on your Instagram @medicnerd, how did you accomplish that?

MS: I hid the pill in cheese. Like giving medicine to a stubborn dog, you sometimes have to hide it inside a treat. That is how I administer the medicine of education, both in the classroom and online. I try to present lessons or ideas in ways that are palatable to my target audience. There are many ways to do this: humor, evoking feelings, competition, relatable stories, graphic medical images, etc. I have tried several different approaches to garner interest and trust from my Instagram (and YouTube) audiences. While the tactics will change and I will continue to try different things, the philosophy will remain to deliver thought-provoking content that is enjoyable to consume.

HC: That’s an interesting analogy, but I think your methods are evidently effective from your large following! What were your hopes when you started your Instagram?

MS: Honestly, I had to be pressured into getting on Instagram. At the time, I had an assistant working for me. He was an intelligent FSU student (EWM major) who had a solid grasp on marketing and social media. He kept pressing me to get MedicNerd on Instagram. I resisted initially. I was not personally on Instagram, and I did not understand how a platform for posting pictures would help me with pre-hospital education. My mind and strategy were stuck on Facebook. To this day, I still am not a huge fan of the platform and must force myself to open the app. But fortunately, I did give into my assistant’s persistent nagging and allowed him to create the account. It quickly became my fastest growing social media platform and is now where I have my largest audience of followers.

HC: Seeing as you’re already making great changes and progress, what would you say is the next step or next big move for you within the FSU MRU and for your Instagram?

MS: For MedicNerd: The website, Instagram, and don’t forget YouTube! It will always remain an outlet for me to explore, learn and try new things. I am a better educator and thinker because of MedicNerd. For MRU: It is not about me. It is about our amazing student-volunteers! We will continue to train and push them to be caring and competent as they serve our campus community. We are actively looking for more opportunities for them to become an even bigger presence on campus through service, outreach and education. Don't be surprised if, in the future, you are in a training class being led and taught by MRU student-volunteers!

You can see Mike Stewart’s wonderful educational posts on his various platforms through these links: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Medicnerd Website, Twitter.

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