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Even as a kid Madison Duppenthaler knew she wanted to follow in her mom’s footsteps and pursue a career in medicine.

But it was her work at ACR Homes as an undergrad that convinced her she had the drive to become a physician. These days, she continues to recruit employees and interns for ACR even as she pursues her M.D. at the University of Minnesota.

Her ultimate career goal? To improve women’s health and access to healthcare — and someday, perhaps, to play a part in medical innovations that could make a difference in those arenas. That’s why she’s focusing on a career as an Ob-Gyn.

“Learning how to be an advocate at ACR has given me a greater sense of compassion for a group of people who may need more advocacy on their behalf,” she explains of her choice. “This job encouraged me and challenged me to develop the skills I needed to continue on the path to receiving my M.D., and gave me the direct care experience I needed to learn if this was the right path. It distinguished which aspects of the healthcare field I enjoyed.”

The Gopher med student has fond memories of her first job with ACR back in 2015, serving as a direct care professional and building positive relationships with four clients who lived together as housemates.

“It was incredible to watch the trust build … allowing me to deliver more quality care that met their needs,” she remembers. A key memory: Her nervousness as she accompanied a resident to a movie theater for the first time and helped her navigate the aisles and candy counter in a wheelchair. “I was terrified of going on an outing by myself,” she notes. “But I loved spending quality time with my resident. After that I loved going on outings, and I gained more confidence in my abilities as a healthcare provider.”

Over the past four years she’s also logged time in other ACR roles, working at various times as an intern and a mentor for new hires.

“My perspective and awareness for people with any sort of impairment reached a whole new level of understanding,” she notes. “Everyone, no matter their abilities, can accomplish anything they put their minds to if given the right tools and support to do it. I loved being a part of their support team as they got to experience life as it should be experienced, doing the things they enjoy the most.”

ACR also offered up clinical experiences Duppenthaler hopes to use in her future line of work.

“I have been trained in administering medications, using medical equipment, working with medical devices and developing my innovative mind to change the field of medicine,” she observes. “In hindsight, I can see now how crucial it was to acquire wheelchair education and learn how to communicate with others beyond using the common English language. I developed a new sense of patience and perseverance in tackling problems with a diverse team of people, and I have never been more grateful.”

These days, she continues to be impressed by ACR’s company culture.

“My favorite part is the community-family feeling of the entire company. I always felt welcomed by everyone at the office. The staff at my house location were a delight to work with and learn from and the residents were an absolute joy to support and advocate for. This company is honestly a family of people passionate about making a difference, and it is an incredible journey to be a part of.”

Her words of wisdom for other pre-med students considering work with ACR? Just do it, even if it seems daunting at first. She points to a world of advantages that include direct-care experience, research and leadership opportunities, the chance to learn patient-physician communication skills and the opportunity to work on a team with other skilled professionals.

“They also have study spaces, study materials and knowledgeable staff for you to use,” she adds. “You get to serve ACR residents while ACR serves you on your journey to becoming a physician.”