Orthopedic Surgeon with Small Farm Beginnings
From a small hobby farm where he operated machinery at a young age, Dr. John Kampa '07 took a rigorous, time-challenging path into academics to earn his medical degree from the Medical School, Duluth Campus. "It was a very long journey to get here," he said. "Very time-consuming. I ended up specializing in Orthopedic Surgery. I mostly do joint replacement surgery, hand surgery, and treat orthopedic injuries, mainly fractures."
As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Kampa has been in practice for nearly five years. His passion for the specialty, and his dedication to helping patients, gave him the energy and stamina to succeed even when it was challenging to balance the educational demands. "Of course, there was the typical four-year undergraduate degree," he said. "Followed by four years in medical school, a five-year orthopedic residency, and then one year for an orthopedic fellowship. That is a total of 14 years after high school. I was one of the youngest in my medical school class because I went straight through and never took time off."
Looking back, he recognizes that by participating in the Medical School Early Admission Rural Scholars Program (EARS), he shaved off a year that usually would have been a part of his experience. The EARS program included strict requirements where students like Dr. Kampa had to complete numerous classes before the fourth year of their undergraduate degree. "I remember signing up for seven classes one time. It was something like 25 credits, I believe. I was also student teaching as a chemistry aid and worked in the tutoring center."
Although his academic and work life were tightly interwoven and dominated his daily hours, Dr. Kampa found time to breathe. "Some of the best summers I have ever had were lazy ones spent at Park Point playing volleyball, swimming in the brisk waters of Lake Superior. I met numerous lifelong friends right there on Griggs Beach."
When he was a kid living with his parents on the hobby farm an hour north of the Twin Cities, they would visit Duluth like many others in Minnesota. At that time, he was intrigued with the Duluth lift bridge that connects the city's largest freshwater sandbar to the city. "The massive ships going through the canal was something to see. I specifically remember when I came up for my tour of the medical school. I remember coming down the hill as we entered Duluth – seeing the city and the lake. I knew right then that this was where I wanted to spend the next few years of my life."
Moreover, he relished in the beautiful city where day-to-day amenities are a short drive from campus, and the wildness of northern nature is even closer. As he looks back at his experiences, Dr. Kampa recognizes the importance of place being a large part of life balance. "I now live only a couple miles from where I grew up. I am fortunate to work at a nearby hospital with a rich history of caring for the local community. Being a physician is challenging; it is stressful. I am tested daily both in surgery and in the clinic. It is also a gratifying career. I can make a huge difference in patients' lives."