Volume 5, Number 1; March 2013
Texas Tech Student of Integrated Scholarship
Appreciate the big picture, and your life will become more balanced. I think it is so important to keep yourself from getting wrapped up in just one thing. Volunteer, travel, get involved in a church–these things will keep your focus on what is really important in life and help you grow in ways you could not imagine.
Texas Tech University School of Law/Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
What got you interested in your major?
I am in a dual-degree program, pursuing doctoral degrees in medicine and law. I am in year three out of six (almost halfway there!). I have always wanted to be a doctor–I feel like it will be an interesting and rewarding career. During my time as an undergrad at Tech, I realized how interested I was in law, as well, and especially the places where law and medicine overlap. After taking a law class as an undergrad, I decided to apply for the program, and I'm so glad I did.
What courses are you taking this semester?
This semester I am taking the same courses as all other first-year medical students, with the addition of a Global Health elective course. Service learning is built into our curriculum through the Early Clinical Experience class. This class has several service learning opportunities, from taking blood pressure at exercise classes for seniors to research projects focused on the needs of the Lubbock community.
I had wonderful opportunities for service learning in law classes, like the Healthcare Mediation Clinic. We were trained to mediate and actually had the chance to put our training to work at the Dispute Resolution Center here in Lubbock.
What is the most challenging course you've taken? How has it affected you?
My first law class was Torts. The professor would call on us randomly and grill us about the cases we had just read. I felt completely out of my element, but being put on the spot helped me get past my discomfort with speaking in class, helped me become more disciplined in my preparation, and made me engaged in class discussions.
Have you completed internships or had other work experience applicable to your field of study?
I spent a semester interning with a group of physicians in Germany. The experience was unbelievable. I shadowed physicians from several different specialties and got to learn all about the health care system in Germany. I also got to hear from doctors (and patients) who spent much of their lives under communist rule in former East Germany, or in some of the poorest parts of Eastern Europe.
I also tutored criminal law. You would be surprised at how much of that course deals with psychiatry/psychology, from insanity defenses to mental state in general. Criminal law also deals with basic questions that arise in medical ethics, such as when life begins and ends.
Have you participated in research?
I spent two years researching eating disorders in young women under the supervision of Dr. Jim Clopton in the Psychology Department. After those projects ended, Dr. Clopton gave me the opportunity to write a chapter in a book on eating disorders, which he edited (along with Dr. Jaclyn McComb).
I also got the chance to do legal research as an editor of the Texas Tech Administrative Law Journal. I researched the prevalence of post-traumatic stress among Texas veterans and what Texas agencies are doing to help veterans get the assistance they need. I relied heavily on the guidance of Dean Emeritus Walt Huffman.
As an independent study, I researched an interesting niche in Texas law on a psychiatrist's duty to warn third parties if a patient makes threats against them. Texas is in a small minority of states that do not require–or even allow–a psychiatrist to issue such a warning. Associate Dean Jennifer Bard, who teaches health law, mentored me in this research.
Currently, I am working with a small group of first-year medical students to research Lubbock County's notoriously low average birth weight. Dr. Robert Casanova, an OB/GYN and associate professor at TTUHSC, is our faculty mentor.
What service projects (volunteering, community service, etc.) have you been involved in?
My service projects have varied a lot over my time at Tech, including working with children at after-school programs in East Lubbock, serving food to the homeless and AIDS patients in Los Angeles, and teaching English in Germany. I am currently working with the International Medicine Club to organize the annual Poverty Banquet fundraiser.
What advice would you give to other students who would like to be a Student of Integrated Scholarship? Students of Integrated Scholarship balance academics with additional activities, such as research, internships, service learning, and study abroad.
Appreciate the big picture, and your life will become more balanced. I think it is so important to keep yourself from getting wrapped up in just one thing. Volunteer, travel, get involved in a church–these things will keep your focus on what is really important in life and help you grow in ways you could not imagine. Really think about what matters to you most and what you want to accomplish in the long run. You will always have the time and energy for the things that are really important to you.
What are your plans after graduation?
I hope to find a residency program I love, although I'm not sure yet what shape that will take. I will most likely take the Texas bar then, too.
The longer I am in this program, the more doors seem to open. I originally wanted to practice medicine full time and use my law degree as a way to study and advocate for certain health care policies. Now, I am almost overwhelmed by all of the career options that would allow me to use both legal and medical training. I'm unsure, but excited about what the future holds.
What experiences do you value most as a student at Texas Tech?
I have had many amazing experiences, but I think getting the chance to study abroad was the most valuable. I spent about a year in Europe and the Middle East during my time at Tech, and it completely changed my worldview. I got to visit some amazing places, meet some wonderful people, and experience things that changed my life.