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ATSU-SOMA alumna and Board of Trustees member shares her passions, goals, and more

Dr. Danielle Barnett-Trapp

When Danielle Barnett-Trapp, DO, ’11, was asked to join the ATSU Board of Trustees in 2021, she jumped at the opportunity. A member of ATSU- SOMA’s inaugural class, Dr. Barnett-Trapp, a clinical associate professor at Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, is the first ATSU-SOMA graduate to serve on the board, something she views as an honor.

“I just love A.T. Still University,” she says. “I’m a huge believer in its approach and its mission. I feel like the school is really grounded in osteopathic principles and treating people as humans.”

While her path to osteopathic medicine may not have been as direct as others in the profession, her love of teaching was always apparent. When Dr. Barnett-Trapp began her undergraduate studies at Northern Arizona University, she wanted to be an elementary school teacher. However, she switched gears and majored in biology and minored in chemistry. She still wanted to teach but at a higher level. When her father, an osteopathic family physician, asked her what she planned to do after graduation, she still wasn’t 100% sure and considered teaching high school biology or anatomy.

“My father told me if I went to medical school, I could teach on a graduate level. That’s why I pursued medicine,” she says. “I naturally liked it, and I was naturally curious about it.”

However, despite her love for medicine and science, teaching was still Dr. Barnett-Trapp’s main goal.

“I realized that doctors are teachers and teach their patients and their families,” she says. “It came full circle for me.”

Although her father graduated from the Chicago College of Medicine, Dr. Barnett-Trapp, who grew up in
Arizona’s Phoenix metropolitan area, opted to stay close to home and chose ATSU-SOMA because of its innovative curricular model.

“Being in ATSU-SOMA’s first class allowed us to have a lot of impact and shape the School and its reputation in the Valley and my community,” she says. “It was really important to me.”

Dr. Barnett-Trapp felt extremely prepared when she graduated because of the clinical experience ATSU-SOMA students receive.

“You might not realize it while you’re going through school because you’re just learning, but when you get out there and start comparing yourself to other students and residents, you can see how prepared you are and how comfortable you are with patients,” she says.

After graduating, Dr. Barnett-Trapp completed a family medicine residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

“I always knew that’s the avenue I wanted to go because I wanted to have a very broad knowledge base. I didn’t want to focus or specialize in one area,” she says. “If I wanted to have an impact in the teaching environment, a broad knowledge base was important.”

After three years, she joined the faculty at Midwestern University and continued practicing family medicine, gaining experience in a wide array of treatment modalities, which she says made her a better educator. She also completed an academic medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona.

Now, in addition to teaching second- year medical students at Midwestern University, she sees patients at the university’s outpatient clinic. She also works in urgent care to hone her skills.

“When people ask me what I teach, it’s kind of hard to explain,” she says. “I teach students how to be a doctor, how to think critically, and how to integrate everything they’re learning in those basic science courses to seeing a patient in an exam room.”

As for what’s in store for her future? Dr. Barnett-Trapp says she thinks about it all the time.

“I definitely will remain in academics. I’ll be in academics for my whole life. That was always my focus. I want to remain clinically active as well, still seeing patients and keeping up with medicine to better educate our students on what it’s like when they get out of school,” she says.

Dr. Barnett-Trapp also says she’ll serve on the board as long as they’ll have her. Members serve in three-year terms for a maximum of three consecutive terms, or nine years. The board meets approximately four times a year across the three campuses to immerse themselves in ATSU programs and see how they may best support the University and its programs.

In addition to ATSU’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Barnett-Trapp serves on the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association Board of Trustees and Executive Committee.

“One of my other areas of passion is advocacy for the osteopathic profession and protecting the profession for future students,” she says. “I’ll continue to do that in whatever capacities are presented to me.”

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