An appreciation for collaboration and detail once had Alex DeMare longing to become a filmmaker, but — fortunately for his many patients — fate intervened and he pursued a career in medicine. 


Filmmaker turned surgeon

OUWB charter class member parlays love for collaboration, detail into career as doctor

An image of a doctor in an operating room

Alex DeMare, M.D., '15, OUWB, in the OR. (Photo by Alex Godin)


icon of a calendarJuly 6, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Andrew Dietderich

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An appreciation for collaboration and detail once had Alex DeMare longing to become a filmmaker, but — fortunately for his many patients — fate intervened and he pursued a career in medicine.

Today, Alex DeMare, M.D., ’15, is wrapping up a hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery fellowship at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Post-fellowship, DeMare is set to return to Beaumont as a surgical oncologist.

A member of OUWB”s charter class, DeMare previously was in surgery residency at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, for six years, including one as chief resident.

Though it’s been seven years since he was first called doctor at OUWB’s first commencement, he remains grateful for his medical school experience.   

“I learned a lot of skills from being part of OUWB’s dynamic environment,” he says. “Ultimately, it was really beneficial for me.”

‘I was sold’

DeMare grew up in Rochester Hills and attended Rochester Adams High School, about 1.5 miles from the campus of Oakland University.

Through the beginning of high school, DeMare says he was on track to be a filmmaker. He still has roughly 20 or so movies that he and his friends made.

“I really enjoyed the collaborative process (of filmmaking),” he says. “You’re working with your friends and everybody’s putting ideas together.”

DeMare says he also enjoyed editing.

“You have to be very attentive to detail…shot-by-shot, frame-by-frame…just very precise,” he says.

Many of the skills he acquired and refined while making films would prove useful later in his career as a surgeon, including the need to be collaborative, and to operate with exact precision. He’s even put his editing skills to use in producing instructional videos used for teaching.

However, as he progressed through high school, DeMare says his passion for making movies was slowly replaced by a love of science, prompted by “some really great classes” he took at Adams.

As an undergrad, DeMare attended Oakland University Honors College. From the available extracurriculars to the classes and teachers, DeMare says he enjoyed the opportunities OU afforded him without having to move too far from home.

“I’m super happy I did it that way,” he says. “It’s a great university and I don’t think enough students take advantage of it.”

An image of DeMare and his wife

DeMare and his wife, Kathleen Kruse, M.D., a psychiatrist who graduated medical school the same year from University of Michigan.

‘I loved their approach’

DeMare says his interest in medicine grew from his love of thinking through complicated problems and of being hands-on.

“I realized that medicine had a really great balance between the two,” he says.

DeMare’s introduction to OUWB was during a pilot program. Held before OUWB welcomed its first class, it allowed participants like DeMare to receive an introduction to the school’s curriculum, faculty, and more.

“I loved their approach and what they were doing differently,” he says. “I was sold and I wanted to go to medical school at OUWB.”

DeMare says he was accepted at a couple of other medical schools in Michigan — and that he did consider trying a different university “to get a different experience” — but he liked the idea of being one of 50 in the new school’s inaugural class.

“Some of the other schools have 300 medical students in one class…I don’t know how you can get the same attention,” he says.

“Many of the benefits I’d realized at Oakland University I didn’t see at other universities.”

Also attractive, he says was the school’s affiliation with Beaumont Health. Having grown up in the area and even volunteered with Beaumont Hospice, DeMare says he knew the relationship would pay off, especially in his third and fourth years of medical school.

“(Attending OUWB) was a calculated risk that’s paid off huge dividends,” he says. 

Not only did he receive a medical education that set him up for success, says DeMare, but he had plenty of opportunities to get involved. Among other things, he helped start the school’s Robert J. Lucas Surgical Society, including the organization’s annual symposium that has become one of OUWB’s signature events.

DeMare also was involved in helping start another OUWB signature event: The Pediatric Interest Group (PIG) Roast for charity.

Beyond the education and extracurriculars, DeMare says he also met what would become lifelong friends.

“The 50 of us became great friends because we spent all day, every day together for at least the first two years,” he says. “I still have a lot of great friends from medical school. It was definitely a nice shared experience that we all went through as part of the first class at a brand-new medical school. Not many people can say that.”

‘Excited to come back’

In 2015, DeMare matched in general surgery at Beaumont. He successfully pursued a couple match with his wife, Kathleen Kruse, M.D., a psychiatrist who graduated the same year from University of Michigan.

DeMare was a surgery resident at Beaumont for six years, including his last year when he served as a chief resident.

DeMare says OUWB set him up for success as a resident, especially since much of the first year is spent figuring out how everything works.

“I knew how to work through the health system,” he says. “I felt comfortable talking to the medicine doctors because I rotated with them…calling the heart doctors, or calling the nephrologist because I had spent time with them.”

For the last year, he has been at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where he has had a hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery fellowship. The specialization deals with pancreatitis, pancreatic surgery, upper GI cancers, stomach cancer, small bowel cancer, and liver surgery.

He says after 10 years at Beaumont (as a med student and resident), it was an adjustment. But, he adds, it’s helped him continue to grow.

“(Cleveland Clinic) is a big place with experts everywhere who are doing very cutting-edge science and medical care,” he says. “I’ve also seen a lot of rare diseases…things where I’ve seen three in a week and I’ve never seen at Beaumont.”

It’s set him up for the next phase of his career: a return to Beaumont.

“I’m going to be coming back and working as a surgical oncologist both at (Beaumont) Royal Oak and Troy,” he says. “I have a ton of great ideas that I’ve learned here and I’m going to take back to Beaumont…just different ways to think about problems that I want to take back and institute over time.”

“I’m excited to come back home,” he says, noting his wife also will be relocating back to southeast Michigan.

And what would 8th grade filmmaker Alex DeMare think of Beaumont Surgical Oncologist Alex DeMare?

“I think he would be proud and happy…I have a really meaningful job and I’m able to be there for people in a really challenging time of need,” he says. “I’m doing something that I’m happy with and I’m making an impact.”

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