Mixing music and medicine
Joshua Yem, oboe
Class of 2020
Major: Bachelor of Music in oboe, Bachelor of Science in physiology, pre-med
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA
How did you get involved in music as a kid?
My parents started me in piano lessons when I was five years old and I began to excel at a young age. When I was in 5th grade, we were given the opportunity to select a band instrument. For some odd reason, I selected the oboe and to this day I still don’t really know why I chose it. Ever since then, I just continued to take lessons on both instruments. My parents have been very supportive and have encouraged me to keep music a part of my life.
Why did you choose to attend the University of Iowa School of Music?
I chose to attend the University of Iowa because I knew completing a double major would actually be possible here. At some other universities, declaring a double major in music and another discipline isn’t even a possibility. All of the faculty here have been extremely accommodating for me. If I ever needed to be late to a music class because of an overlapping chemistry course or had to leave a physiology lab early for a recital, professors here would always be willing to work with me. Both the music and pre-medicine programs at the University of Iowa are well known and well ranked, and with Iowa City being so close to home, it was hard to not attend this institution.
You have a pretty intense academic load. What does a typical school day look like for you?
Now that I have completed all of my pre-requisite courses for the MCAT, my schedule has lightened significantly. Currently I am enrolled in 15 semester hours (s.h.), however during my freshman and sophomore year I had semesters with 20-22 s.h. each. During those semesters, I typically had class starting at 8 a.m. and would finish around 5 p.m. Classes would run back to back and I had maybe a one or two hour break at most. Usually during these breaks, I would be studying, practicing, or doing homework. A typically day might start with some sort of music class (ex. theory or history). Then, I might have one or two chemistry or biology lectures or sometimes a three hour lab. I would usually also have a one and a half hour band rehearsal at some point. Some days I also volunteered at UIHC or did work in my research lab in the Human Physiology department.
What advice do you have for incoming students balancing a double major in music and another academic discipline?
Balancing a double major undoubtedly carries a very intense workload. I think the biggest key to success is effectively managing your time. I’ve found myself trying to squeeze in every bit of studying I could. Even if I only had a ten minute break between classes, I would still try to get one or two chemistry homework problems done. Without effective time management, you won’t be able to dedicate equal amounts of time to both majors.
As you’re set to begin your senior year, what does the future hold for you?
I plan on applying for medical school this summer with hopes of attending an MD program starting in the fall of 2020. My ultimate career goal is to someday work as a critical care physician or cardiothoracic surgeon. While I will no longer be studying music in grad school, I still hope to find opportunities to play and perform after graduation.
Apart from the University of Iowa, what is your favorite part about living in Iowa City?
I love all of the restaurants in downtown. I eat out probably more often than I should but there are so many choices and it is hard to pick a favorite.