Alumna Starts Medical Career in Africa

Dawn Runge, left, shares a moment with fellow chiropractor, Dr. Elga Drews, during her first week in Namibia.

Dawn Runge, left, shares a moment with fellow chiropractor, Dr. Elga Drews, during her first week in Namibia.

After graduating with a degree in communication in 2005, Dawn Runge was one of many Truman students who chose to continue their education. Like several others, she pursued a career in the health care field and became Dr. Runge after attending Logan College of Chiropractic. However, the similarities with most of her peers end there as she took an unconventional path to start her career.

Shortly after she passed her boards in January 2014, Runge decided to look at international chiropractic job postings. One that caught her eye was for a satellite clinic in Namibia, Africa, at the Rundu Medical Center. After several Skype interviews and discussions with an established chiropractor, Runge accepted the position as a contract doctor for the center. She is enthusiastic to be part of the effort to introduce chiropractic medicine to developing areas of the country with scarce medical facilities.

“It is the first of its kind for hundreds of kilometers at least,” Runge said.

Rundu Medical Center houses numerous practitioners, including a radiologist, several M.D.s, a physiotherapist, a biokineticist, a dietician and a dentist. According to Runge, the center offers to fulfill the health care needs that previously had been untended in the community of more than 90,000.

Due to the county’s lack of medical facilities, Runge had the unique experience of diagnosing a patient with a brain tumor. She probably would not have had the opportunity to do so in the United States because a primary care physician most likely would have seen the patient first.

One of the appeals that drew Runge to becoming a chiropractor was the field’s holistic approach to treatment. Helping people alleviate their pain and teaching them how to prevent future discomfort are the most rewarding aspects of her job.

“Looking at the entire body system to determine the source of pain is important because back pain, something we treat commonly, has almost 100 sources, ranging from the way we sit, to cancer,” she said.

Runge’s chiropractic practice has been open since the summer of 2014. She is contracted through the Rundu Medical Center for two years and is not yet sure if she will stay and continue to practice in Namibia or return to the United States. Even though she decided to purse a different career path from what she originally studied, she feels that her time at Truman was well spent and enabled her to find something she loves.

“University is a time to really get to know yourself and take time to evaluate what brings you joy,” Runge said.

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