Texas Tech University

Counseling and Addiction Recovery Sciences Undergraduate Student Makes Advances in Orthopedic Research

Samantha Salazar

October 25, 2023

Evan Hernandez

Evan Hernandez is currently pursuing a CARS degree to understand drug abuse and opioids in preparation for a career in the medical field.

Undergraduate student, Evan Hernandez, is conducting orthopedic research with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Orthopedic Hand Center. Hernandez is a student in the Counseling and Addiction Recovery Sciences (CARS) program. Working under Dr. Brendan MacKay, Dr. Tammam Hannah, and Dr. Anceslo Idicula, Hernandez has been conducting research out of the hand center focusing on hand and microvascular surgery. He's been working on his research with Texas Tech since July of 2023 and, during this time, has also aided the Department of Orthopedic Surgery with a range of cases, from trauma surgery to pediatric surgery.

In four months, Hernandez has made significant progress in orthopedic research. He has published an original research project in the Journal of Hand Surgery, has approximately ten ongoing projects, and has submitted three articles for review in various journals. He was also recently invited to serve as a TTUHSC School of Medicine Research Club panelist to discuss orthopedic research. He notes this as an honor to provide vital information to medical students interested in applying to orthopedic residency programs. 

Hernandez has found that his research will benefit not only his direct group of patients but also rural communities in the future. Highlighting orthopedic research in rural communities is crucial as it addresses local healthcare needs, improves health outcomes, reduces healthcare disparities, and promotes injury prevention and wellness. Focusing on research efforts educates healthcare providers and engages the community.

"By focusing on orthopedic research, rural areas can bridge healthcare gaps, empower residents to make informed decisions about their health, and ultimately enhance the community's overall well-being," Hernandez said. 

Hernandez chose to pursue a Counseling and Addiction Recovery Sciences degree to further his understanding of opioids commonly prescribed after orthopedic surgery. Orthopedic surgeons are known to be one of the highest prescribers of opioids, which makes a degree in CARS very beneficial. Hernandez is committed to offering the best care for his future patients by having an extensive educational background to make informed clinical decisions when prescribing opioids. He hopes to contribute to efforts combatting the opioid crisis. 

"The most impactful part of the CARS program is being one of Dr. Nicole Morelock's future colleagues,” Hernandez said. “Dr. Morelock is a phenomenal instructor, and it is tough to put her impact on students (future colleagues) into words, I will forever be grateful for Dr. Morelock and her leadership in the CARS program."