From ’82, Forward: Jeffrey Dieden, Steven Broman and the Class of 1982 Scholarship
Medicine has proffered different paths for Hahnemann University class of 1982 alumni Jeffrey D. Dieden, MD, and Steven D. Broman, MD. Over the years, though, what has brought them together time and again is a bond forged at Hahnemann that first week of classes back in 1978 — a connection now paying forward from the class of 1982 as they establish an endowed scholarship for third- and fourth-year students at Drexel University College of Medicine.
By Grant Schatzman
Dieden will partly credit serendipity for bringing him to Hahnemann in 1978. Medicine wasn’t always the career path he had in mind, Dieden explains: “I grew up worshipping Jacques Cousteau and wanted to be a marine biologist.” Those dreams brought him to the University of California, San Diego, where he pursued a course of study that he hoped would pave an entrance into the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As it happened, that course would also equip him for medical school. After volunteering at a local clinic one summer, his attention began to shift toward academic medicine, though that, too, would continue to evolve.
“Once you get into the actual medical school and start being exposed to all the specialties, your thinking changes,” Dieden says. Through fellowships, his master’s degree and his time at Hahnemann, Dieden was drawn to interventional radiology. “It’s a nice blend of radiology and surgery. It was an awesome time, because that’s when interventional radiology was in its birth. There were no stents when I started, and angioplasty was new.”
For Broman, patient relationships were always a part of the picture. “I grew up in rural eastern Iowa, and my dad was a family doctor for 40-some years. I saw from day one what he did,” Broman recounts. “It was a small town. He had a little office in the garage where he’d see patients at night and on weekends. You’d walk downtown, and everyone would be talking to him about this and that, and people would point out all the kids he’s delivered. I knew from the beginning what it was like to be in a situation like that, to live in a community where you know people and they’re not only patients, but they become friends. And that’s kind of my role model.”
Those interested in donating to the scholarship can contact Lizz Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three decades after his father walked the halls of Hahnemann, Broman would follow in those footsteps. “By the time I was applying to school, everyone he knew was dead and gone, so I was doing it on my own. But I did get in. I was persistent, because I didn’t get in right away after undergraduate school,” he remembers.
By the time he received his acceptance letter to Hahnemann, Broman had met and married his wife, Donnis, and earned a master’s in biology from the University of Colorado, Denver. Dieden, meanwhile, had earned a master’s in bioradiology at the University of California, Berkeley, and gotten married to his wife, Melinda. When they joined their cohort in 1978, those common experiences would form the bedrock of an incipient friendship.
Class of ’82
The two met during their first week at Hahnemann after class over beers and a ball game. The details are still clear for Broman, who has a sharp memory for sports. “1978, that was when the Yankees and the Red Sox had a one-game playoff to get into the World Series or something,” he recalls. “We watched that game over at Doc Watson’s.”
“Geezers like us were a little bit older than the average medical student,” Dieden explains. “24 and 22 — it seems inconsequential, but at that age it’s pretty different. Additionally, we were married. My wife and I got married at 23, which by today’s standards is pretty young, though not so much by our parents’ standards.”
Along that common ground, a circle soon formed with a few other couples in their cohort. Dieden and Broman have fond memories of weddings celebrated together, and holidays and meals shared in the family homes of classmates like Stan Silverman, MD, HU ’82.
“For Melinda and me, the Silvermans were kind of our parents away from home. They had us for Thanksgiving more than once. Stan’s folks were more than welcoming,” Dieden recalls. “It was only my second Jewish wedding when Stan and Susie got married. That was a cultural treat.”
Broman on a mission trip to Iquitos, Peru, accompanied by his wife, Donnis, and children Alia and Hans.
“We had our first Seder with the Silvermans,” Broman remembers. By their final year, both Donnis Broman and Melinda Dieden were pregnant with their first children. The day Donnis had their firstborn, Erik, Dieden held the camera that would document the moment in the Broman family photo album.
When they talk about how they began to gather funding for the Hahnemann University Class of 1982 Endowed Scholarship, calling old classmates to catch up after all those years, Dieden and Broman think about the bond the class of ’82 had. For both of them, medicine has been a vocation, a calling to serve in a way unlike any other. But those years at Hahnemann also held beers over sports broadcasts and class-wide variety shows packed with niche comedy skits, juggling and pun-laden musical numbers they can still pull from memory.
“We had a real tight class,” Broman says. “And we had an awful lot of talent in our class.”
“We thought we were so clever with all the medical humor,” Dieden recalls. “I still find myself singing, ‘I’m a med student, I’m okay. I work all night and I work all day.’”
Broman examining a patient with a partially amputated finger in Iquitos, Peru, in 2009.
According to Broman and Dieden, the class of 1982 held the first annual hospital bed races through the streets of Philadelphia, pioneering a tradition that would last decades.
“Being the first class that participated, we used regular hospital beds, with the teeny tiny casters. It was hard to push those suckers. In later years, I think they juiced the beds and put bigger wheels on them,” Broman says.
“Those didn’t do well with potholes,” notes Dieden.
Dieden having fun before a procedure.
Dieden returned to California and, after an internship at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, residency at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and a fellowship in interventional radiology at the University of California, Irvine, joined Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, where he would spend the rest of his medical career. In 1987, he moved to the nearby town of Lafayette, where he and Melinda have raised three daughters, Elise, Laura and Marie.
Broman did an internship and residency at the University of Missouri and practiced family medicine in Rockford, Illinois, after serving two years there in the National Health Service Corps. He then moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1990. In 1995, he became board certified in sports medicine — a golden match, if there ever was one. Today, Broman practices with Banner Health Center and occasionally travels as team physician with USA Wrestling. Steve and Donnis Broman have raised three kids of their own, Erik, Alia and Hans.
Even as their own careers evolved, Dieden and Broman kept in touch, their paths crossing in each other’s cities in California and Colorado, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and, of course, at class reunions. When Dieden had the idea to start a scholarship for medical students at Drexel, he knew who to call first — and Broman, former class president and current “governor” for the class of 1982 alumni reunions, knew who to call next.
The idea for the class of 1982 scholarship came to Dieden during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a member of the UCSF alumni association board, he had helped establish an endowed scholarship once before, and in 2020 he found himself looking for new opportunities to help.
Dieden teaching in western Kenya in 2019.
“Last year was a weird year in a lot of ways, with the election coming up and all the news about that, and obviously the pandemic and all the social unrest and social justice issues. And after I did this first scholarship, I thought, ‘Where else can I go with this?’” Dieden says.
Economists’ predictions of a K-shaped recovery in the wake of the pandemic suggested that already rising economic inequality was expected to increase. Mindful of this, Dieden says, “A lot of comfortable retirees that are white and from privileged backgrounds have looked at their philanthropy and thought, ‘How can I change things a little bit?’ And that’s what we’ve done.”
The scholarship is for medical students at Drexel who agree to go into primary care in underserved communities. A generous donation-matching commitment from the Schleyer family brought the $100,000 threshold for creating an endowed scholarship into reach, provided they could put together the funds from class of 1982 alumni.
“It was actually crowdfunded from our class,” Broman says. “People in our close circles really jumped on board to get us up to the $50,000 mark. Surprisingly, we’ve had some gifts from people that we only knew peripherally. The only common bond we had with them was the education at Hahnemann.” The scholarship is now fully endowed, and they hope to be able announce the first recipient during Alumni Weekend in 2022.
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