College of Osteopathic Medicine
'A doctor is a leader'
Hometown: Proctorville, Ohio
College: College of Osteopathic Medicine; College of Health and Human Services
Major: Osteopathic Medicine; Master in Public Health
What does it mean for you to be recognized as a top graduate at the university?
I believe my accomplishments at OU-COM reflect the incredible nature of Ohio University. The achievements I have made are a direct result of the innovative and unique programs offered here at OU-COM. This nomination has great significance to me as it reintegrates that Ohio University is producing graduates who are concerned about more than merely receiving an education. I hope through this nomination that I can further recognize OU-COM.
Has there been a faculty member who has inspired you?
(Assistant Professor of Osteopathic Medicine) Gillian Ice has been my mentor and adviser throughout medical school. Her research consists of studying the stress response of Kenyan elders who are taking care of orphans from the HIV/AIDS crisis. (When I traveled to Kenya) I became instantly immersed in another culture and quickly realized the vast health disparities in this area. I became passionate about the health of this population and realized I wanted to do more to give back to this population and others who lack health care resources. Through this experience, I decided to pursue a master's degree in public health concurrently with my medical degree. Since this time, I have participated in two additional extended medical excursions to Scotland and El Salvador.
Why did you choose Ohio University?
My desire to attend OU-COM began with my aspiration to study osteopathic medicine. I admired osteopathic physicians for treating their patients in a holistic manner and for their realization of how physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects all contribute to good health. The holistic approach is not focused on one complaint, but integrates all these aspects into each patient encounter. As an undergraduate student, I participated in Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). Through the SURF program, I was not only able to conduct a research project but I was also able to experience first-hand the friendly and compassionate nature of the faculty at OU-COM.
Describe what you have accomplished. What was your drive and motivation?
I was the eldest of five children, all of whom were female. With a family of five, there was a lot of responsibility around house. There were no mentors, no connections with the medical field. It was new territory for my family and myself. My mother and father both attended Ohio University and held professions within the educational field, yet I had been interested in medicine since a young age. Looking back, I believe the majority of my family thought my passion for medicine was just "a phase" that would soon pass.
As a child, my grandfather had always been my inspiration. He suffered from a viral nerve condition, called Guillian-Barre, which caused him to be completely paralyzed. Through a long course of medical treatment and physical therapy, he fully recovered and lived many more years of his life.
I continued to pursue this field of medicine through shadowing physicians, researching the medical profession and volunteering in the emergency room of our local hospital. Moreover, I continued to reach each small goal within my educational process with the hope of reaching the larger goal of someday becoming a physician. As my medical coursework became more difficult, I would often reflect on my grandfather's experience, and this encouraged me to keep studying so that I could be the best physician possible.
What have you learned from working with patients?
There are so many patient experiences to discuss that sometimes I don't know where to start! I think one of the patients I related most to was a 26-year-old female who had vomiting and dehydration. She had many vague symptoms that did not seem to fit together very well. We conducted many tests and later found out she had lupus. The patient was very surprised she had lupus and had many questions about her diagnosis. My heart just went out to her. I related to her because she was my age and was trying to do all the things a 20-something has to do -- get a job, pay off college loans, etc. I just tried to befriend her and give her all the information I could. I would print off medical literature about lupus and translate the vocabulary into non-medical terminology for her. I was teaching her about her condition, and at the same time I was also learning a great deal about lupus myself, and how to comfort a patient.
How do you see yourself in your future?
I see myself as a lifelong learner and international medical advocate. I would like to use knowledge to make this a better place, use what I know for the betterment of other people. A doctor is a leader but a servant leader who organizes aspects of patient care. A doctor is a patient advocate and an educator. My husband and I hope to create a permanent clinic where we could practice medicine in a developing country. I would like to revolutionize the world's health care systems by making some changes and thinking about different options. Our long-term dream is to be able financially provide an opportunity for medical students to experience international medicine while providing for a population in need. People are grateful when given proper care, and we can provide that care internationally with only a little.
Finish these sentences:
I am most proud of … my international experiences and research.
Someday I hope to be … a mother, physician, educator and philanthropist.
Interview by Jenaye Antonuccio, BA '95. Photo by Kainaz Amaria.