Adam Milam, MD, Ph.D., had succeeded. He had landed his dream job.
The Class of 2016 graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine is a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist at Mayo Clinic Arizona and an associate professor at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, both in Phoenix. He is also a professor of practice in the Department of Population Health at Arizona State University.
He had spent 17 years educating himself to reach this point. In the very first year of his new job, he suffered a stroke, experiencing firsthand what it was like for his patients to hand over control to someone else.
Dr. Milam, a self-reported healthy man in his 30s, had been scheduled for an on-call shift. (He never sleeps well when on call, he shared).
The next day, a Friday, he felt more tired than usual. “That Monday I went back to work and felt better, but not myself,” he said.
He thought he had COVID. Or maybe he was dehydrated. He went to the emergency room at his workplace.
“I rule out the things that could kill me,” he said, recalling the day he went to the hospital.
He then recalled feeling lightheaded earlier in the week, prompting a brain scan, which revealed a lesion. Further tests showed it was not a tumor or an abscess. He had a stroke, brought on by a blood clot created by a heart condition he didn’t know he was carrying.
He stayed three days in the hospital.
“It definitely makes you a little more empathetic,” he said. “By being yourself, you definitely put a different light on the whole experience and what it’s like to be a patient. You know what we can do to be better doctors. It gave me perspective different and made me a better doctor.
In Detroit, he learned what sets Wayne State University Medical School apart from other medical schools. He moved to Los Angeles for a residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after graduation, serving as chief resident of the Department of Anesthesiology in 2020. He completed a fellowship in adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology at the Cleveland Clinic in 2021. From there he landed in Phoenix.
He returns to Michigan at least three times a year, most recently in October.
“My education and training at Wayne State University School of Medicine and my rotation at Detroit Medical Center got me started right at the start of my internship year,” he said. “I was able to care for complex patients and understood the impact of social determinants of health on patient outcomes. And I got insight into how to help address some of these social determinants of health. I felt well equipped and more comfortable interacting with patients than my co-residents.
He joined the WSU Medical Alumni Association Board of Directors as an out-of-state representative this year to thank the School of Medicine, while supporting students who enroll after him.
“Members of the alumni association were invaluable when I was a medical school student and after I graduated, both financially through a scholarship, but also for advice and support. mentorship,” he said. “I can’t reimburse alumni who have helped me, but I can help current students by paying them.”
Dr. Milam spent the first eight years of his higher education journey at Johns Hopkins University, located in his hometown of Baltimore, where he earned his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees. He is a part-time faculty member of the university’s mental health department, a position he has held since 2012.
On October 7, he received the Community Champion Award from the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association. The award is given to alumni and friends of the university who have made outstanding contributions in addressing the critical social, economic and environmental needs of society and the community.
“It feels good to receive the award from Johns Hopkins. I consider myself a child of Hopkins,” he said. “To be recognized by the JHU Alumni Association is a great honor, especially considering amazing and impactful work that my fellow alumni are engaged in,” he said. “I was also able to return to campus for the event, which was great given that in-person events have been canceled due to the pandemic. During the day, I was able to participate in two panels to discuss some of the work I have done since graduating. And my mentor of 15 years also received an award , which made the occasion even better.
For more information about applying to the Wayne State University School of Medicine MD program, visit www.med.wayne.edu/admissions.
To learn more about the Medical Alumni Association, visit alumni.med.wayne.edu/medical-alumni-association.