‘The best decision of my life’

Class of 2015 alumna opens practice near Nashville, reflects on OUWB

An image of Ashley Guthrie, M.D.

Ashley Guthrie, M.D., OUWB '15, recently opened a practice near Nashville.

icon of a calendarMarch 22, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Andrew Dietderich

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Ashley Guthrie, M.D., recently opened a practice near Nashville — the culmination of a lifelong dream to be a doctor that shifted into high gear after deciding to be part of OUWB’s inaugural class.

Simply put, the Class of 2015 alumnus says she “had such a wonderful experience” at OUWB — one Guthrie calls “very nurturing” and says was pivotal in helping her find success in medical school and beyond.

That includes a five-year residency in New York, a one-year fellowship in Alabama, and, most recently, opening Guthrie Facial Plastic Surgery near Nashville.

“(Attending OUWB) was the best decision of my life,” says Guthrie.

“(At OUWB) it was ‘If you’re having an issue, we’re going to help you work through it.’ You never felt like you were just hanging out there on your own. You always knew you were going to have a really solid support system.”

‘Set up the best for your future’

Guthrie grew up in New Jersey and says from the time she was in kindergarten knew she wanted to be a doctor.

“I remember learning how to spell pediatrician so I could put that on anything that asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she says with a laugh. “Eventually I realized that I just wanted to be a doctor and definitely didn’t want to be a pediatrician.”

Sciences like biology and organic chemistry came relatively easy for Guthrie. She attended University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in the Biological Basis of Behavior.

Concurrently, Guthrie oftentimes volunteered in the community. She played piano in the lobby of the local hospital. She tutored science classes in west Philadelphia.

When interviewing at medical schools, Guthrie says she was drawn to OUWB because the “whole atmosphere and culture of the school was totally different.”

“As a first class, there were only 50 of us so that automatically gave us a sense of family, which was really nice,” she says. “For everybody who was in that class there was just the sense that everyone cared about you and your education and wanted to make sure that you got the best possible experience and were set up the best for your future.”

There were also plenty of opportunities to make a difference, even in the school’s first year. Guthrie was involved with the admissions committee and curriculum development.

She also was involved in the OUWB chapter of American Medical Women’s Association, and served as founding president of the Robert J. Lucas Surgical Society (RJLSS). In that role, she oversaw the launch of the RJLSS Surgical Symposium. The annual event has become one of OUWB’s signature events, drawing medical-student participants from across Michigan and Ohio.

An image of Ashley Guthrie, M.D., at commencement.

Guthrie (center) was all smiles the day she graduated from OUWB. 

‘It’s a fun job’

Guthrie opened her practice in Brentwood, Tennessee, last October. The practice is 90% cosmetic and 10% reconstructive. Guthrie says she chose the Nashville area primarily because of family, but because of the great quality of life.

The market also is “booming,” according to Guthrie.

“A large percentage of my patients so far have been transplants from places like California, New York, and Chicago…we’re kind of all in the same boat,” she says. “It’s a bonding experience.”

Leading up to the opening, Guthrie had a one-year fellowship in facial plastic surgery at Rousso Facial Plastic Surgery Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Before that, Guthrie was in residency at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York.

She is a board-certified ENT specialist.

Guthrie says she knew from the beginning of medical school that she wanted to specialize in surgery. It didn’t take her long to realize where she wanted to focus.

“ENT and head and neck surgery were always really interesting to me,” she says.

“The anatomy of the head and neck is extremely intricate and all of the surgery is very delicate. And, of course, you’re dealing with some of the most important structures of the body.”

Further, says Guthrie, her father’s best friend also is a head and neck surgeon who served as a “mentor and inspiration,” sometimes letting her shadow him at work, even as an undergrad.

As Guthrie explained, facial plastic surgery is one of many subspecialties within ENT.

“I realized early on in my residency that I really liked plastic surgery because I just think it’s so nice to be able to make a huge impact for someone very quickly with life changing surgery,” she says. “Some people might think it’s frivolous but for somebody who’s really self-conscious about something, it can make a huge, huge difference in their lives.”

Because she works with patients who actively seek out the kind of services that she provides, Guthrie says she really enjoys what she does.

“It’s not because they’re really sick…it’s something they’ve decided to do for themselves,” she says. “They’re really motivated and excited about it and they’re happy. It’s a fun job.”

‘More attention than most medical students’

Guthrie says her residency in New York was a rewarding experience. While in the Big Apple, she worked primarily in a resident clinic, helping patients from an underserved population.

“It trained us early on to take a lot of responsibility for the patients,” she says.

Likewise, Guthrie says she learned a lot from her experiences in Alabama during her fellowship. She says she wanted to work in a private practice to essentially prepare her to open her own.

“I really, really enjoyed my experience there…it’s a very busy office and (Guthrie’s fellowship director Daniel Rousso, M.D.) has been doing this for 35 years,” she says. “He just cranks all day, every day so it was a lot of great exposure.”

Combined with the overall sense of family she felt from OUWB staff and faculty, Guthrie says her clinical education at Beaumont helped set her up for these earliest experiences in her career as a doctor.

“I felt very well prepared,” she says. “During our clinical years at Beaumont we get very involved in patient care…I felt even better prepared than some of my co-residents because we got more hands-on experience from earlier on.”

It’s a topic Guthrie says was easily addressed during one of her interviews for residency — and generally sums up why she says attending OUWB was the best decision she’s made.

“On one of my interviews, the department chair asked ‘Do you think you’re as prepared as other people because you went to a new school?’” she says “I told him I thought I was actually better prepared because I got so much more attention than most medical students.”

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