Ricky Bloomfield’s undergraduate academic pursuits at NC State could point to any number of careers. With majors in chemistry and secondary education and minors in Spanish and saxophone performance, Bloomfield ’02 used his time as a Park Scholar to academically explore far and wide.
This cross-section of interests has continued to define his career. The director of mobile technology strategy and a hospitalist in internal medicine and pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center, Bloomfield combined his experiences as a pediatrician with a burgeoning interest in medical informatics to redefine the limits of a career in medicine.
And now, Bloomfield is sharing his expertise with the next generation of Park Scholars. Last fall, Megan McNeil ’17 shadowed Bloomfield to explore interests in forging her own path in medicine, in what Bloomfield hopes is just the beginning of a growing outreach initiative between Park alumni and students.
Originally a chemical engineering major, Bloomfield switched tracks his sophomore year, pursuing instead a career as a physician. While making the decision was easy, making connections didn’t necessarily follow.
“I honestly didn’t feel like I had a good handle on ways to make good contacts with physicians during my time at NC State,” said Bloomfield. “This is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about making opportunities available now to other students, so that they have an easier time than I did.”
So in September 2014 when McNeil reached out, Bloomfield invited her to shadow him during clinical rounds. McNeil, a biology major, relished the opportunity to interact both with patients and the hospital team.
“I got to see how a team works together,” said McNeil. “One of the physicians or students would present a patient’s information, and the rest would discuss. Medicine definitely requires teamwork, and I enjoyed seeing that in action.”
Through watching the team of students and doctors interact, McNeil also picked up on skills and philosophies transferable beyond just the medical field.
“I have a problem with not speaking up in large groups even when I do have ideas,” said McNeil. “This opportunity showed me that it is important to share ideas because, even if it is not the correct idea, there are times when that idea could be what the group needs.”
McNeil, who co-chaired the Krispy Kreme Challenge 2015 campus integration committee, hopes to pursue her own career in pathology, looking to medical schools that emphasize service and community involvement.
If Bloomfield’s career is any indication, it’s never too early—or late—to work towards a goal or dream up new possibilities.
When, as chief pediatric resident at UNC, he knew he wanted to learn more about the field of medical informatics, Bloomfield bought two books on Amazon and taught himself to program. Six months later, he released an app still in use today by residents and faculty physicians at UNC.
Building on that success, Bloomfield developed a second app, which eventually led him to create G-Whizz! Apps, LLC, a small software company that has enjoyed 12 million downloads to date. Duke Medicine also took notice, leading to his current position as director of mobile technology strategy, a role where he works to give patients tools to help them communicate more effectively with their physicians.
Though his career has taken off in interesting, often unexpected, always impactful ways, Bloomfield still looks to the firm foundation established by the Park Scholarships program.
“Being a Park Scholar, surrounded by so many talented individuals, made me want to be better,” said Bloomfield. “It has also made me realize how important it is to give back to the program that gave me so much.”
Bloomfield and his wife Kim ’02 have done just that since graduation, giving back to the Park Scholarships program financially and through generous donations of their time. Bloomfield recently served on a Finalist Weekend panel answering questions about all things Park and NC State, while Kim has served on the Park Alumni Society since 2004 as vice president, president, and currently secretary.
Whether working with Finalists and alumni, or inviting students like McNeil to seek new experiences beyond campus, Bloomfield knows it is up to the Park community to support and enhance the program in perpetuity.
“If we want such an incredible thing to continue,” he said, “it’s up to us to help make that happen.”
Story by Mary Charles Hale ‘13