City/State of Residence: Iowa City, IA
Genre: Creative Nonfiction
Brief Bio: Jon Kerstetter received his medical degree from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN in 1988. He finished his MFA degree from Ashland University, Ashland, OH in 2011. Dr Kerstetter practiced emergency medicine and military medicine. He was a combat physician and flight surgeon for the U.S. Army and completed three combat tours in Iraq. He has also taught disaster relief and practiced emergency medicine in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Honduras. His creative nonfiction writing is forthcoming in River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative.
What initially drew you to Ashland's MFA Program? The distance education model attracted me to Ashland because it is a model that reflects writing in real life, among the time constraints and busy schedules that plague us all. The faculty was also a huge factor in selecting Ashland. Bar none, the faculty rocks…in a literary sense. Added to that, the administrative support from Sarah Wells, and you spell a successful program.
What did you appreciate most? Summer on-site learning was intense, flexible, demanding, fun, and it worked. The summer sessions are longer than most, but you only have one residency per year, concentrated and focused. I like that very much.
How do you feel this program impacted you? Simple. It made me a better, more critical writer and reader. I learned how to write by writing to a schedule and to the critique of excellent faculty and peers.
What do you feel was the greatest takeaway? For me, the discipline that the program structure built for my writing time was the greatest tool. If you meet the weekly deadlines of writing and reading, you cannot help but learn, but also you build writing habits and discipline.
What was the subject or theme of your thesis? My theme was the bifurcated nature of the role of a combat physician in the Iraq war. I also wrote about my loss of career and rehabilitation as a stroke survivor.
Finally, what are you up to now? Current occupation, or otherwise: I am writing full time, finishing my book project, and trying to figure out the world of publishing. Best of luck.