What might a patient think when 6-foot-3, 282-pound defensive tackle Steve Bigach enters into surgery with a scalpel in hand?
“Usually by then they are knocked out,” Bigach said.
Bigach is spending the summer lifting weights and preparing for his final season while also studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), which he will take July 6.
“My priority right now is just doing the best I can at everything,” Bigach said Wednesday. “The MCATs are the biggest obstacle on my list. Once I get all of that out of the way, I can focus on having a good season.”
Bigach said he didn’t grow up planning to become a doctor, but his family kept pushing him that direction.
“I had good science and math scores,” Bigach said. “Finally I said I’d look at it. I have a cousin and an uncle that are doctors, and I followed them around a little bit.
“I found it wasn’t exactly what I thought it was, and it may suit me a little more than I originally thought.”
Bigach graduated in the spring with a degree in integrated physiology and is spending his fifth year taking some prerequisite classes for medical school.
Earlier this summer, Bigach talked to Andrew Lightfoot, a former Iowa offensive lineman who went to medical school and is in his final week of residency at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
“I just told him to continue the course he is going and work hard,” Lightfoot said. “I told him he can talk to me about the details because there’s a lot of stuff you don’t realize when you are going through it.”
Lightfoot, who started all 13 games for the 11-2 team in 2002, said he retired Jan. 3, 2003, and immediately got to work becoming a doctor.
“One of the most beneficial things, to me, of playing and doing pre-med, was you really learn time management,” Lightfoot said. “If you’re serious about going to medical school, that’s life.”
Bigach says he just kind of makes it work.
“I’m not the most organized guy in the world,” Bigach said. “That’s honest there and where I can improve the most. Luckily I’ve been given some gifts and do put in a lot of hours when it comes to academics.”
Bigach would like to be a surgeon but acknowledges a lot can change. Lightfoot thought he would be an orthopedic surgeon but ended up a urologist.
“You never really know until you get into medical school,” Lightfoot said. “You never know until you find that out.”
“Everyone says you go into med school wanting to do one thing, and at the end of it, you’re like spun on your head and end up doing something else,” Bigach said.
But he is not Dr. Bigach yet. There still is some operating to do on the Hawkeye defensive line.
Bigach played in all 12 games last season, including five starts, and is being counted on to provide senior leadership to a young and inexperienced D-line group.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are open to improvement,” Bigach said. “Everybody is trying to get better.”
Like the Hawkeye pass rush, med school is not guaranteed, either.
“Sometimes they say even if you do well on the test, it’s a crapshoot on if they let you in or not,” Bigach said. “This coming couple months are real big for me personally, and big for the team, too.”
For what it’s worth, Lightfoot says his patients don’t do a double-take when the 6-foot-6 former lineman enters the room in his scrubs.
“It’s not really that big of an issue,” Lightfoot said. “Which, as an offensive lineman, hey, I like to go unnoticed.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football