"Students today could never do what I did," says Dr. Jean Creek, BS'49, MD'52. But he's not bragging. Jean is talking about how he worked his way through school.
"When I first came to IU, undergraduate tuition was $44 a semester, and $100 at the [IU] School of Medicine," he recalls. Today, those amounts are $4,375 and $16,346, respectively. And this difference in education costs is partly what inspired Jean and his wife, Doris Shoultz Creek, to create four scholarships for IU medical students.
To make his way through IU, Jean waited tables at his Acacia fraternity house. He also had money saved from when he played trumpet in a big band at a Kentucky nightclub during high school.
When he began medical school, he worked summers as an orderly at the hospital in Evansville. He also took donors' blood and did crossmatching for emergency cases at then City Hospital in Indianapolis (now Wishard Hospital). It's that patchwork of jobs that Jean doesn't think students could manage today. "Medical school is a long journey," he says. "I was lucky to graduate with no debt."
"I believe in education," adds Doris, who married Jean four years ago. "I have a daughter whom I wanted to see earn a degree." Today, that daughter is a teacher. "When Jean first mentioned a gift to the medical school, I thought it was a great idea," she notes.
Jean's IU education led to a successful career in medicine. He returned to the IU School of Medicine for his medical specialty in internal medicine. Afterward, he taught medicine on the IU Bloomington campus and at what was then known as Bloomington Hospital (now IU Health Bloomington Hospital). "I would give oral exams, and I'd come up with these clinical vignettes to test my students," he said. "And they would ask me questions I hadn't thought of. That really kept me on my toes."
In Bloomington, many patients know the name Internal Medicine Associates, a group practice that today has nearly 70 physicians. It began when Jean and Dr. David Johnloz formed the practice in 1971. Jean also served as the personal physician to Dr. Herman B Wells from 1975 until the beloved IU chancellor passed away in 2000.
So how did he first know he wanted to be a doctor? His alma mater may have played an unconventional role. In 1937 Jean was attending the University School, a grade school located on campus, while his father earned a master's degree at the IU School of Education. "I think his parents sent him to summer school to keep him out of trouble," quips Doris.
Be that as it may, the nine-year-old Jean found time to wander over to Owen Hall, where the medical school was located. "You could sit in the window well and watch the medical students dissect the cadavers," he remembers. "I was fascinated."
In addition to their medical scholarships, the Creeks have endowed a scholarship in the IU Jacobs School of Music. But Jean's advice is reserved for the students who follow in his footsteps. "When I treated someone, I never tried to learn what it cost," he says. "I did what I thought necessary."
And that's something he thinks students who aspire to be physicians can and should do.