David and Nancy Flatt
“Higher education has always been important in my family, and I always remember receiving an excellent education at Iowa. Nancy and I are happy to help the next generation of physicians at Iowa and in Tanzania.”
When David Flatt (1975 M.D.) was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, as part of the U.S. Marine Corps, he frequently told his wife, Nancy, stories about his childhood in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He spent the first 14 years of his life in Tanzania as a child of missionaries.
“It was fascinating to hear about his upbringing,” said Nancy Flatt (1978 Cert.), who met David during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps. “He talked about attending boarding school and hunting for supper. It was a very different childhood than mine in Virginia.”
It’s an experience that has influenced some of David Flatt’s biggest decisions. Once his parents moved to the U.S., David Flatt received an undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and pursued medical school at the University of Iowa. “At that time, I thought I was going to use whatever skills I had in an underserved or developing country,” he said. “I thought I was going to save the world. Because of doctors Francois Abboud, Carl White, Mel Marcus, Don Brown, and Ernie Thielen, I ended up going into cardiovascular and internal medicine.”
After spending nearly 30 years in the medical profession as a cardiologist—practicing in Grand Forks, N.D.; Wichita, Kansas; and Topeka, Kansas—David Flatt traveled back to his birthplace in 2008 with his wife. “Going back was a very special experience for me,” David Flatt said. “I’ve never been the type of guy to run away for a week or two, but we ended up spending eight weeks in Tanzania. We were able to see some of their very basic needs—clean water, clean food, and medical attention for malaria and HIV. I also was able to mentor some doctors at the Dodoma Christian Medical Center and do a one-week seminar for local doctors.”
This experience seven years ago, coupled with what David Flatt considers to be quality training received at the University of Iowa, heavily influenced a recent gift to the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. Recently, the couple made a $1 million charitable bequest to establish the Dar-es-Salaam Scholarship Fund, which will support medical students who demonstrate a strong interest in primary care specialties, with a preference for those pursuing work with an underserved population.
“When we were in Tanzania, we saw some people who really needed help,” Nancy Flatt said. “There is a great need for good medical care there. We hope that this supports students who want to go into primary care and who want to work in developing countries such as Tanzania.”
Besides this new scholarship at Iowa, the Flatts—President Club members who live in Green Valley, Arizona—are currently supporting tuition and fees for a medical student who is receiving his training in Tanzania. David Flatt plans to travel back to Tanzania in 2018 to see this individual graduate from medical school.
“Higher education has always been important in my family, and I always remember receiving an excellent education at Iowa,” David Flatt said. “Nancy and I are happy to help the next generation of physicians at Iowa and in Tanzania.”