Provo couple goes into first medical residency

2013-09-29T00:35:00Z 2013-09-29T08:15:54Z Provo couple goes into first medical residencyBarbara Christiansen - Daily Herald Daily Herald
September 29, 2013 12:35 am  • 

There's not just "a doctor in the house," but two doctors.

That's in the Sells household in northeast Provo. Jude and Namea Sells have both graduated from medical school and are doing a residency program with Intermountain Health Care.

The couple met when they were attending BYU-Hawaii and married around their junior year. They were studying Hawaiian studies and exercise and sports science, considering going into medicine, but not sure. The birth of their daughter helped them decide.

"When Namea had Ku'u, who will be 8, it kind of confirmed she wanted to go into medicine," Jude Sells said. He wrote about the experience.

"In that moment I believe she saws the miracle of life and unlimited love," he wrote. "She told me she knew then that she was called to medicine."

They went to Southern Utah University in Cedar City to finish their pre-med work, and were accepted to the University of Utah for medical school in 2008. "We were the first couple accepted to get into medical school there," Jude Sells said. "That was pretty cool."

From the beginning, they had advice that the journey would be hard.

"I remember sitting with her on the first day of medical school listening to a dean say 'medical school is difficult and I promise you will not be able to read a bedtime story to your kids every night,' " he said. But that has not happened.

"Namea read Ku'u a bedtime story every single night in medical school," he said. "She has never let school or anything else become a bigger priority than her family."

She said there have been difficulties.

"Just the time commitment is probably the hardest thing," she said. "A typical day depends on the rotation that we are on. We start about 7 o'clock in the morning, and go until about 5 or 6 usually. It depends on what walks through the door."

Because the internship, which is part of the residency, can be so demanding, their advisers suggested they stagger their schooling. Namea began the residency first.

"I did some community service and research for a year, just because our intern year was kind of our busiest year," Jude Sells said. "We didn't want to start that together. We were advised not to, especially with kids." In addition to 8-year-old Ku'u, they have an 18-month old son.

"I started this July; she started last year," he said.

They plan on going into family practice together.

"We both decided on it because it is a specialty that encompasses all specialties," Jude Sells said. "We deliver babies, work in the ERs, we do women's health, we see people from babies to the end of life."

"We don't want to be so specialized that we miss out on a lot of different opportunities," he said. "It is also a specialty that is easier on our family."

He praised Intermountain for treating them well.

"The program director said if we missed a school play because of work he would be mad," Jude Sells said. "That kind of confirmed this program was for us."

Intermountain also praised them.

Dr. Michael Rhodes, director of the residency said the Sells are the first couple the residency has accepted.

"It's been a great experience," he said.

Even though Namea is ahead of Jude in the residency, they spend a lot of time together.

"We work together a lot," Jude Sells said. "But usually at least one person can be at home with the kids. This is kind of a different month. She is over in Manti doing a rural rotation." College is a significant expense and medical school at least doubles that amount of time. Then a residency takes three to eight years, depending on the subspecialty. The couple has had help, however.

"We both got scholarships through medical school from the state of Hawaii," Jude Sells said. "It has paid for all of our medical school with the stipulation that we go back and practice there. We would love to work there together so we think it is ideal."

"We are actually excited about it," Namea Sells said. "It will be nice to get back there. There are things that we miss. We don't like cold winters."

She expects medicine to be rewarding.

"It is the opportunities -- the chance to get to know a lot of people from different walks of life," she said. "That is one of the most fun things. A big draw for family medicine is to take care of families."

They each have their areas of focus.

"She loves women's health. She would like to deliver babies," Jude Sells said. "I would like to work in the ER, but we would also like to have our clinic together, to see patients of all ages, encompassing all illnesses."

Holding their daughter may have helped convince Namea Sells to go into medicine, but Jude Sells has a different story. He made a promise that the day he finished medical school he would share his story.

"I am still reluctant to share it, but I am in hopes that at least one person will look at their life goals a little different after reading this," he said. His story included a narrative of meeting with his adviser, who asked his background.

"Well, my father left our family when I was 15," he wrote. "He had a drug addiction and was very abusive. The last I heard he was in prison. My mom is great. Since she was a teenager she was worked hard as a waitress trying to make ends meet for our family. She has been my example of hard work and determination."

He told of his three brothers, two were living with their mother, the other was in a shipping container that was transformed into a small home. Jude had been living out of his car alongside the beach.

The adviser was concerned that he would not be able to do the work, but Jude had a different idea..

"That day is ingrained into my mind and was a pivotal moment in my life," he added. "I really don't know what I was thinking but am happy I didn't change my mind. My journey to and through medical school was not easy. I've had my fair share of failures and bumps in the road, but the journey has been well worth it."

One big thing that made a difference was that the adviser's assistant was Namea, who became his wife.

"She told me that she knew that day that I was good enough to be her husband," he wrote. "She honestly sees more potential in me than I see in myself and she constantly tells me there is much more in store for us.

"Don't let the doubts of others dictate the dreams we set for ourselves. Dream big."

-- Barbara Christiansen covers news in American Fork ˜ government, schools, residents, business and more.
Read more from Barbara Christiansen here.

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