First, tell us about you and your UMMC story.
My road to UMMC was one of determination. I graduated Millsaps College in 1995. After learning I was not accepted to medical school, I worked for a local dentist in Jackson. It was here that I first got to work hands-on with patients doing a multitude of jobs such as rooming, taking vital signs, assisting with procedures and filing insurance claims.
I came close to applying to dental school that year, but there was always a calling in the back of my head that pushed me to pursue a career in medicine.
In adolescence, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I want to work part-time at K-mart and part-time as a doctor. I wanted to be like my grandfathers, who practiced family medicine and psychiatry in rural Mississippi. I remember going on rounds with my grandfather and being so proud I was related to someone who seemed to know exactly what to do to make people feel better.
These experiences — and my family’s constant encouragement — gave me the courage to move over 2,000 miles away after I was accepted to St. George’s Medical School in Grenada, West Indies, in 1996. I spent my first two years of medical school in a tropical paradise learning medicine and meeting friends from all over the world.
After my first two years, I transferred to the Medical College of Georgia, where I graduated in May 2000. Although I didn’t follow the most direct path, I was delighted to have matched at UMMC in internal medicine. It was a chance to return home to my old stomping grounds in Jackson, only with many more new experiences and a lot of personal growth under my belt.
The intern class of 2000 was like a big extended family to me. It was an instant sister/brotherhood that watched out for me. Being a resident at UMMC meant always having someone to watch your back and knowing that, with your team, you would not fail. In those three glorious years, we all had triumphs and defeats, but no matter what life dealt us, we were all in it together.
My intern preceptor was the infamous Dr. Bennett and I quickly learned that it was unacceptable to check blood pressure in just one upper extremity. He taught me the art of obtaining a good history, and as I look back it has served me well over the years in many complex internal medicine patients.
My sister was killed in a car-truck crash my intern year, and I honestly don’t think I could have made it through this challenging time in my life without the friends I made at UMMC. Much of that time is a blur, but I vividly remember Rosy Bahadur coming over and packing my suitcase and David Morris driving me to the airport to put me on a plane to bury my sister.
For a time, I thought about dropping out of medicine, but it was the friendships I had made that brought me back. We were a team, and I enjoyed being a part of that. I did not want to let the team down: that kept me going.
When I returned to Jackson, I was surrounded by support. Mathew Quin was there to let me know I was not alone, all while going through a very personal loss of his own. John B and Dena Howell were there to make sure I never missed a meal.
Upon completion of my residency in 2003, I accepted a job with the VA, where I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Robert McMurry. Dr. McMurry almost lured me to specialize in rheumatology with his enthusiasm for the subject. I got to work with some of the junior residents, consulting on surgical and psychiatric patients who always presented new and exciting challenges. Cherel Hulsey and I often would meet for lunch to compare inpatient and outpatient notes.
After a year at the VA, I made the difficult decision to move to Ft. Worth, Texas, to be closer to my family. It was sad to leave my medical family at UMMC, but such a relief to know I had made such strong friendships that would last a lifetime.
Where are you now, and what are you doing?
After my move to Ft. Worth in 2004, I served as the medical director for a family DME company for a year before deciding to return to clinical medicine. Ft. Worth is where I met my husband Andrew. We have been married for 13 years. It was very comforting to know my UMMC family again had my back at the wedding where they arranged a getaway car just in case I decided to change my mind!
Andrew and I have a vivacious and energetic nine-year-old son, Jack, who keeps us young at heart. We try to keep up with his ever-changing passions, which currently include training to become a pilot for Delta Airlines and being a rock star with his guitar and drums. We also have two furry children, Harper and Milo, both Weimaraners. I am currently practicing outpatient internal medicine for Baylor, Scott and White in Ft. Worth where I just celebrated 15 years of medical service.
In this pandemic era, I walk side-by-side with so many other colleagues as we try to balance home and work life. I, for one, never saw myself teaching fourth-grade math and language arts. Jack has told me more than once that I need to keep my day job!
What do you miss most about UMMC?
I miss the daily interaction with my friends and colleagues. When you practice outpatient medicine, you sometimes feel like you are stranded on an island. You don’t get to catch up with your colleagues in the hallway or dash into grand rounds to learn something new over lunch. I miss the quick curbside consults and the camaraderie that UMMC nurtured. I also miss the academic atmosphere of UMMC.
Share a few memories of your time at UMMC.
As time marches on the memories fade, but some are ingrained and never forgotten:
— Performing an H&P in the ER in front of Dr. Bennett. Chief complaint: chest pain
— Reviewing the “hemogram” with Dr. Deshazo in morning report
— Morning rounds with Dr. Dreiling at the VA
— “Running NORAD” with Jennifer Davis at the VA
— Learning the true meaning of the word “hyperhidrosis” when handing off the cardiology call pager to Clay King
— Mark Garbutt “hitting the wall” on call as an intern on UMMC wards
and of course:
— “Beer with Nettie” where we all got to take a little time each week and forget about life for a while.
Thank you to UMMC and everyone who made it such a great place to train. I am so grateful for the lifelong friendships that I have made.
Medicine has changed leaps and bounds since I was a resident. It amazes me to see all the strength and courage which have been displayed by my peers during the pandemic. We have all come a long way since that first day in July back in 2000. How I have enjoyed the ride!