FAIRBORN — Like many physicians, Dr. Josh Slusher works long hours.
Now in his last year of a family medicine residency, Slusher has spent the past several months grappling with a disease that has changed the face of medicine, altered the flow of society, and caused hardship for medical professionals around the globe.
Common wisdom says that hardship breeds resilience. As a physician, Slusher serves people across a breadth and depth of experience, from those who are well-off to those who are most vulnerable – and will continue to do so long after the coronavirus is gone.
Slusher is a Fairborn native. Growing up, his family struggled with poverty, alcohol and drug addiction.
“There were days when I didn’t know if I would be able to eat,” he said.
Many years later, in his office, Slusher encountered a 15-year-old boy. The teenage patient had escaped a domestic violence situation, had been in trouble with the law, and struggled in school.
In talking with him, Slusher said, “You can come from where you come from and make something of yourself.”
Slusher’s life experience has helped him connect with patients in ways that are difficult to replicate with colleagues. After experiencing bullying in seventh and eighth grade, he transitioned into homeschooling, and would go to a friend’s house to study.
Initially, the desire to become a doctor was simply a way to escape from an unfortunate situation. However, over the years, practicing medicine transformed into a calling.
“Looking back, as hard as it’s been to get here, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I literally can’t,” he said. “I am in a unique position to help those that are most vulnerable.”
Slusher earned his bachelor’s degree at Wright State University, and did two years’ worth of master’s level study in neuroscience. With very little scholarship assistance or help from his family, he paid for school primarily through student loans. After taking nearly a year to get into medical school, he was accepted at Ohio University and graduated from the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2017.
For one year, Slusher did his residency in Indianapolis. Recently, however, he has moved back to the Dayton area to complete his residency at Soin Medical Center.
Slusher settled on family medicine as his field of choice, as he felt it fit best with his personality.
“Family med is often called ‘cradle to grave medicine,’” he said. “I like the ages. You get babies, up to 90, sometimes 100-year olds. I also felt like I would get a better work-life balance.”
For others who may be in a similar situation, Slusher has one piece of advice.
“Coming from that sort of environment, it sounds kind of cliché, but hard work and persistence does pay off,” the doctor said. “Be patient with yourself in the process. I think that failure is an opportunity to grow.”
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