an e-newsletter for students and alumni of saint michael's biology department

Alumni Profile
Dr. Orville Hartford '98




What is your position?

I am a staff dermatologist at Penobscot Valley Dermatology in Bangor, Maine, practicing medical and surgical dermatology. This means no Botox, fillers, or lasers in my practice. While these are interesting and desired therapies, I am focusing on helping patients with skin cancer, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne and the thousands of other diseases and manifestations of diseases that can present in the skin.

What sparked your initial interest in biology and in medicine?

My interest in biology was sparked by my fascination with the natural world. My interest in medicine was sparked by my fascination with the workings of the human body. Clinical medicine combines science with the art of working with people to help treat and prevent disease.

What experiences did you have in the Saint Michael's College biology department and the college as a whole that prepared you for your career?

Nearly all of my biology classes helped me prepare for a career in medicine. The biology department does an excellent job at teaching critical and scientific thinking and helps develop the skills you need to comprehend and learn the large and ever changing body of knowledge needed to practice medicine.

The college as a whole, through programs such as MOVE, helped me learn the value of service to others. At its core medicine is a service provided in an effort to help those in need.

Within your field, what options do you see for Saint Michaelís College biology graduates?

Medicine is a very broad field. Dermatology alone is very broad, with many subspecialties. Just within dermatology you could focus on lab and/or clinical research, immunology, pigmented lesions, vascular lesions, pediatrics, surgery, cancer of the skin, pharmaceuticals and many other areas of special interest.

What specific opportunities you think biology majors should pursue before graduation?

If you have even a hint of interest in medicine, I would suggest taking the pre-medical curriculum while at Saint Michaelís. This should prevent you from having to take these classes after graduation. I taught high school science for two years before going to medical school. This was an educational and challenging experience in its own right, but having already taken the pre-med classes at Saint Michaelís allowed me to apply to medical school without needing extra college classes.

Finally, what advice would you give current Saint Michael's College students interested in a career in medicine?

If you have a real interest in medicine, try to find experiences that help you explore the field. This can be as simple as shadowing some people within medicine. For me, medical school was something that was in the back of my mind while at Saint Michaelís and I sought out these experiences after college. Like me, many of my medical school classmates had pursued other interests for a few years before entering medical school. Medical training is long and it can be hard to take time off once you get started, so I recommend exploring other interests first. I graduated from Saint Michaelís 11 years ago and I am only two months into starting my practice after finishing medical school and residency.

It is important to work hard in all your academic classes, not just the science classes. Most importantly, take advantage of all Saint Michael's has to offer. The real uniqueness of Saint Michaelís can be found in programs like the Alternative Spring Break, various other MOVE programs, The Wilderness Program, Fire & Rescue, Campus Ministry, Study Abroad, and many other extracurricular programs. You canít be involved in everything, but take some time to explore and find some extracurricular programs you enjoy. These programs help you meet new people, have new experiences, and become a part of and serve the community. Being involved in and serving your community is enjoyable and something I think graduate admissions committees pay attention to, because this is what makes you unique as well.



Go Back