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Stephen Setterberg, MD

CLA Alumnus
February 4, 2016

Dr. Stephen Setterberg is the founder and president of PrairieCare, and is a Child, Adolescent, Adult and Research Psychiatrist. Dr. Setterberg is an alumnus of philosophy and the University of Minnesota Medical School. 

What would your advice be to students who are interested in health professions and are considering what major to choose?

The main advice I would give to students would be to choose the thing you’re most interested in. Don’t worry about the statistics for what major is going to get you accepted, because really, it’s not about the major. In fact, if you choose a humanities major, your odds are just as good as a physics major or chemistry major to get into medical school. It doesn’t make sense to do that unless that’s the thing you really want to do. Otherwise, go where your passion is. That will pay off later and will give you choices that you might not have otherwise had.

How did your philosophy major uniquely prepare you for a career as a psychiatrist and business leader?

My philosophy major gave me a couple of advantages that I might not have otherwise had in my career as a physician and a psychiatrist. In terms of my leadership roles in medicine, what the philosophy degree did for me was enhance my ability to look at underlying assumptions. Whether it’s a matter of policy decisions or questions of business strategy, or even sometimes scientific questions, I was much more sensitive to the underlying questions that had gone unexamined that maybe provided new solutions. One gets that from the scientific method, but I think one gets it in a different way from a philosophy background.

In your work as an adjunct professor at the medical school, what are some of the qualities you see that make students successful?

In my experience, it is not just the fact that they are smart and know a lot about science, because they all are and they all do. I think the ones that really stand out are the ones that are most curious and the ones that are most motivated by a deep concern for what’s good for their patients. I think that kind of depth and curiosity is not given to a person by a liberal arts education, but enhanced within a person with that kind of education.