FALL 2022

Ignite Magazine

The eXperience Factor

by John T. Langell, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
President, Northeast Ohio Medical University

Several of the transformational leaders in this issue are NEOMED alumni who point to our University as the place where they fell in love with their future spouse, their fields of medicine or both. Of course, NEOMED’s health professionals hail from other places as well, but they tell a similar story: That it was during medical school that they became passionate about someone or something. Before medical school, each already held a desire to help people, and while many didn’t know it then, they now recognize pivotal moments and experiences throughout their academic and professional careers that led them to where they are now. 

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NEOMED president John LangellGary Pinta, M.D., knew it. During his clinical experiences at NEOMED, he realized he wanted to practice primary care. He also wanted to make a name for himself and own a business. But it wasn’t until he reached a point of vulnerability as a physician that he could trust his instincts that all three could intersect. 

For some health professionals, pivotal moments occur even earlier. James Kravec, M.D., felt a calling to serve others when he was just a high school student who was given the opportunity to shadow some physicians.

Tom Vo, M.D., confesses to not being at the top of his medical student class. But his emotional intelligence was high, and he learned that his affinity for helping others was sharpened as he interacted with others, saw what pressed their buttons and understood what made them happy. 

Being the first from your specialty to practice or teach across disciplines can present its own dilemmas as you – and others – question what you are doing. Michelle Cudnik, Pharm.D., describes the life of an “Interprofessionalist.”

Inquiry, learning and practice— all play a huge role in building upon experiences to be able to do all you can to help. In “My Gracious,” Petrea Cober, Pharm. D., comes to the realization that when all that you can do isn’t good enough and the worst experience of them all occurs, “You have to know that there is nothing that you have not tried or done to help that patient get better.”

Experiences teach us a lot, but we won’t always be happy with the outcomes.  

Explaining why he chose his specialty, Tom File, M.D., an infectious disease expert who’s been practicing for 50 years, says, “A lot of what we do has to do with mentorship and the inspiration we’ve had from people with whom we’ve worked.” He thought he’d pursue family medicine, but he became inspired by the very first fellow resident he met who happened to be focused on infectious disease. “I thought it was a very intriguing field as you can actually cure patients the majority of times,” said Dr. File. 

The joy of healing those who need our help is what drives our passion to serve, but it is our experience that shapes how we do it.

  • A woman with her hands crossed.

    Petrea Cober

    My Gracious

    The expression “my gracious” — a combination of concern and knowledge wrapped in a blanket of hope and kindness — aptly describes the work of Petrea Cober, Pharm.D.
  •  James Kravec, M.D.

    James Kravec

    The Doctor in the City of YOU

    James Kravec, M.D., is helping to lead the resurgency in his hometown of Youngstown.
  • Dr. Tom Vo.

    Tom Vo

    Scaling Innovation and Manifesting Happiness

    Tom Vo, M.D., is building Nutex Health in a way that extends its physicians' careers by 10-15 years.
  • Tom File, M.D.

    Thomas File

    Mentors and Moments

    For Tom File, M.D., the path to an esteemed career in infectious diseases was lit by mentors and moments.
  • Dr. Serpil Erzurum.

    Michelle Cudnik

    The Interprofessionalist

    Michelle Cudnik, Pharm. D., BCACP, shares her best interprofessional experience ever.
  • Dr. Donald Malone Jr.

    Gary Pinta

    The Pricelessness of Primary Care

    When the president of Pioneer Physicians Network, Gary Pinta, M.D., talks about his practice, he first stresses his physician-owners’ “passion for primary care.”

Three medical students reading poetry.

Family Tradition of Philanthropy

The Dr. Dominic A. and Helen M. Bitonte Family Foundation’s recent $10-million commitment to NEOMED’s is just the latest of many gifts in support of higher education.

A group of women at a retreat.

Rediscovering Capacity and Purpose

Healer’s Art retreats help health professionals build resiliency and regain their meaning and purpose.

A group of people standing in front of a medical clinic in Kenya.

Wheeled to Serve

On a route to school that was filled with experiences destined to inform her future, Cynthia Uzoukwu found her passion.

A women and her mother in a kitchen.

Flan With a Filipino Twist

In the kitchen, Sophia Santos, a second-year pharmacy student, makes the traditional dessert with her mother and shares the family recipe.

A collage of students who put together the Journal of Medical Sciences at NEOMED.

Showcasing Student Research and Innovation

A behind-the-scenes look at what it took to launch Journal of Medical Sciences at NEOMED.

A group of people holding a large, cardboard check that they won.

Developing Solutions

A team of NEOMED students are working to develop their novel idea that reduces bone overgrowth post-surgery.


Illustrations by David Szalay, The University of Akron