Doubly Blessed

It’s double the giggles and double the grins as these alumni twins are medical residents on paths to success. 

Being identical twins offers plenty of chances to confuse and tease others. Being identical twins working in the same place boosts those chances astronomically. UTC grads Jermaine and Jeremy Hogstrom sometimes take advantage. As medical residents in Detroit, Michigan, the twins don’t risk anything that would harm any patient.  

Co-workers are a different matter. 

“A few of our co-workers can tell us apart while others still struggle with it,” says Jermaine. “We do play jokes every here-and-there. The majority of the confusion, however, comes from working in the hospital. Many of the nurses cannot tell us apart and may sometimes even page the wrong person, so we definitely get a kick out of that.” 

“I have to say that it is still a struggle to tell them apart, so my knowledge, at this point, of the traits that separate them is scanty. I am sure I will pick up on the subtle differences between them as time goes by. They are definitely fun guys,” says Dr. Joel Appel, program director of internal medicine at the Detroit/Wayne County Authority Health and head of the twins’ medical residency program (and a twin himself).  

Originally from Chattanooga, the Hogstrom brothers graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in May 2014 with degrees in biology and minors in chemistry. They went on to study osteopathic medicine at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine at Auburn University, graduating in May 2019. Their medical residencies started in July 2019, several months after COVID-19 had sunk its teeth deep into the world. The twins were plunged into it.  “COVID-19 has certainly added additional challenges to our training as the Detroit area has been severely affected,” Jeremy said. “Now that we’re in a pandemic, I would say we are getting an extremely unique medicine experience while, at the same time, observing first-hand how advancements in medicine occur.” 

It also means longer hours. “If you’re scheduled to be on call that day, you would do a full 24-hour shift at the hospital,” he adds.  

The twins currently are doing their residencies through the Detroit/Wayne County Health organization, working with patients at Sinai Grace Hospital. Their program technically is community-based program and not hospital-based, but the learning curve is still steep. Appel says they’re doing well handling the program’s formidable responsibilities. “They are both humble and kind young physicians. They are highly professional. Each one works so well in their respective health care teams backing up and supporting others,” he says. 

“They are both humble and kind young physicians. They are highly professional. Each one works so well in their respective health care teams backing up and supporting others.”

In the osteopathic medicine practiced by the brothers, physicians see the body as a single, integrated system rather than individual parts. In a respiratory illness, for instance, they will examine more than the lungs to see if there’s a connection between them and another part of the body, particularly the nerves, bones and muscles. “We are trained to detect various problems in the musculoskeletal system in relation to systemic diseases,” Jeremy adds. “We can then use techniques as adjunctive treatment in addition to our medical care.” 

Touch is a key element of the osteopathic discipline. “I feel that our training in osteopathic medicine has taught us both about the power of human touch,” Jermaine says. “Whenever performing a physical exam on a patient, physical contact is what helps to build trust between you and the patient. This is important for the patient-physician relationship because it allows a physician to provide the best care.  

As kids, the Hogstroms earned black belts in taekwondo but say they aren’t currently training. They also both learned to play piano and still do. “It definitely helps with stress,” Jermaine says. They both played tennis as youngsters. Just as with their piano playing, both still like playing piano and say it helps lower stress levels. 

While the pair spent their early years in Chattanooga, attending Big Ridge Elementary School and Berean Academy, they moved to Kansas City when their father took a job there. They spent some of their middle school years and all of high school in Kansas City. When they finished high school, they returned to Chattanooga to enroll at UTC. “We came back to UTC because of our love for our hometown of Chattanooga and our familiarity with the UT system,” Jermaine explains. “Growing up, we were very familiar with UTC, having attended various events there. This made our decision to join the UTC family very easy,” Jeremy says.  

Once on campus, they quickly embraced the community and were embraced themselves. “The atmosphere was always friendly, warm and welcoming,” Jeremy says. “The professors were excellent, and I really got to know a lot of the staff well. UTC promotes a unique, family-like environment that cannot be replicated.” 

While making new friends, they also were able to catch up with old ones. “Throughout our time at UTC, we were able reconnect with several childhood friends which made the experience even better,” Jermaine says.  

Once their three-year residencies in Detroit are complete, their futures are still somewhat unclear, they say, though discussions have taken place and probable paths are coming into focus. “After residency, we have both been pretty interested in going into primary care,” Jermaine says. “We have even talked about maybe opening a practice together later in the future, but we will see where this path takes us.” 

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