Following in her mother’s footsteps

Monday, December 3, 2018
Dr. Chandler Hunt Kasuske, right, is pictured with her mother, Cherokee native Dr. Tauhni Hunt, at Chandler’s graduation ceremonies from the University of South Dakota. Photo contributed
Photo contributed

Like mother, like daughter.

It is a phrase that can be used to describe Chandler Hunt Kasuske as she navigates her first year of residency at the Kansas University School of Medicine in Wichita, KS. She is practicing in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology and following in the footsteps of her mother who had the same calling. Dr. Tauhni Hunt has been serving patients in the area since 1996.

While Chandler’s career goals mirror her mother’s in many ways, she did take her own path in pursuit of higher education and a medical degree. Chandler’s mother grew up in Cherokee,Iowa and attended Buena Vista University for undergrad and completed medical school and residency at the University of Iowa School of Medicine. Chandler stayed on the South Dakota side of the river and was a double major in biology and psychology at the University of South Dakota. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree from USD in 2014 and attended medical school in Vermillion at USD’s Sanford School of Medicine.

Dr. Tauhni Hunt is the daughter of the late Eldon and Lola (Tuttle) Dilocker of Cherokee. She is a 1984 graduate of Cherokee Washington High.

“For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a doctor,” explained Chandler, who graduated from Dakota Valley High School in 2010. “I remember dressing up for career day in scrubs that were too big. I believe my initial interest can be attributed to the fact that my mother is an OB/GYN – so I had early exposure to her career and saw how much she loved her job.”

Chandler minored in chemistry while in undergrad at USD, and she made sure to evaluate the many different areas of medicine throughout all of her schooling. She always wanted to be sure she was making the right choice for her future.

“Due to my early exposure, I have always thought about the field of OB/GYN,” Chandler said. “However, in medical school, I put a lot of effort into exploring other fields of medicine to decide what career path I should follow. While I enjoyed all of my rotations, I found myself being drawn back to OB/GYN. I would find little aspects of OB/GYN in the other specialties, and get excited, becoming naturally more interested in those specific cases. Once I acknowledged this, I realized my desire to pursue OB/GYN was based on more than just my early exposure bias.”

During her time in medical school, Chandler had the opportunity to contribute to medical literature by having an article published in The Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. She wrote about an interesting case that was presented to her during a rotation in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Getting published involved a lot of hard work in addition to her studies.

While the strenuous pace of medical school can be daunting and stressful, perhaps the most nerve-wracking undertaking is the matching process for residency. Residency involves post-graduate training for those who have successfully completed medical school.

Medical students must pick a speciality and begin researching residency programs prior to their last year of medical school. Resident programs review the applications and start holding on-site interviews throughout the fall and early winter.

“Each interview is a two-day event,” Chandler explained. “It begins with a resident social the night before the interview – allowing the opportunity to interact with the residents. You can ask questions and see how the residents get along. The next day is the formal interview – typically consisting of eight to 12 interviews with different groups of residents and physicians. Once the resident completes their interviews, they rank programs in the order of which they would like to be placed. Programs also rank the interviewees in the order of who they believe would be a good addition to their program.”

Match Day is always the third Friday in March each year. Medical students looking to be matched with a residency program will receive an email on the Monday of Match Week that states whether he or she has found a placement. If a match has been made, the student must wait until Friday to learn the location of their soon-to-be residency program.

“It is an incredibly nerve-wracking process,” Chandler said. “By this point in my career, I have spent so much time studying and preparing to become a physician and now all I was waiting on was an algorithm to tell me if/where I would be continuing my training. Most medical students have a Type A personality, and I am no exception – so leaving the fate of my career in someone else’s hands was difficult, to say the least. Luckily I had great support and encouragement from friends, family and advisors.”

On March 16, 2018, at the Avera Sacred Heart Hospital campus in Yankton, Chandler was matched with the highly-regarded residency program at KUSM-Wichita. She officially started her residency July 1. It is an intense, four-year program, during which time she will gain valuable training pertaining to patient care.

“One of the best parts of OB/GYN is the variety that the field offers,” Chandler said. “It has continuity care through the clinic, a variety of surgical experiences and involves helping women throughout their lifetime.”

Chandler managed to squeeze in getting married to Tyler Kasuske of Gayville, SD, July 23 during this chaotic transition to residency life.

As a first-year resident, Chandler maintains a hectic schedule. Her program involves a variety of medical rotations, such as labor and delivery (days and nights), emergency room, ultrasonography, clinics and surgeries.

A lot of shifts for Chandler involve arriving at the hospital between 4-5 a.m. to check on patients for rounds. If she is on duty for labor and delivery, she will be working from approximately 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Her hospital is capable of managing 20 labor rooms and six outpatient rooms. If she is not on rotation for labor and delivery, she could be on the schedule for a Cesarean (C-section) surgery that starts at 7 a.m. and involves checking on the patient beforehand. There could be one to four C-sections on her daily roster, in addition to other surgeries and afternoon clinics.

While residency may be demanding, Chandler knows it will all be worth it in the end as she achieves her goal of being an OB/GYN. It helps that she has her husband and family to depend on during the stressful times. Her father, Michael Hunt, and brothers (Braeden and Logan) are very proud of her accomplishments. Chandler can also look to her sister, Alyssa Hunt, for camaraderie in the medical world. Alyssa is an emergency room nurse currently taking classes to become a nurse practitioner. There is also, of course, her mother.

“My mom is my main mentor in the field of medicine,” Chandler said. “It is helpful to be able to discuss the challenges of residency and the field of OB/GYN with someone who has experienced it all first-hand.”

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