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Texas Tech medical students enjoying experience so far

July 30, 2018

Third-year medical students at Texas Tech University Health Sciences School of Medicine are just starting their rotations through facilities in the Permian Basin.

Jasmine Tambunga, assistant director of undergraduate medical education, said 25 third-year students recently arrived and there are 25 fourth-year students in Odessa, as well. They spend four years in medical school and then undergo residency at a facility where they are matched, usually in March.

Some moved to town in April, but the majority arrived in May.

“This group of third-year medical students is exceedingly ambitious and really focused. They all seem really grateful to have the opportunity to serve our community because they know how valued they are here,” Tambunga said.

Michelle Grundstrom, a student from Dallas, agreed.

“They’re giving us every opportunity to succeed, so I think we’re all really happy being here,” Grundstrom said.

She said the overall class is about 180 students. They were split into four campuses after their second year.

The fewest students wind up at the Odessa campus, so they get a lot of individual attention from attending physicians and are able to get a lot of hands-on experience, but they don’t go easy on the students.

Grundstrom is currently doing a rotation in internal medicine.

Other students interviewed were Courtney Dominguez from El Paso; Ana Barragan from Bogota, Colombia; and Aneesh Bapodra from San Antonio.

Bapodra, who was rotating through obstetrics and gynecology, said patients come from throughout the region.

“Getting the diversity is awesome because you get to see things that you wouldn’t see in a major city. You also get pathologies that have progressed longer than usual because these people had to travel pretty far, not just distance-wise but financially,” Bapodra said.

There is an optional two-week rural rotation that can take students to Alpine, Fort Stockton and Sweetwater. Big Spring State Hospital is the psychiatry rotation.

“We get to go out there for two weeks and live in the on-call rooms. Those family med doctors are usually doing surgical skills and some specialty skills since there’s not a lot of specialists in those areas,” Dominguez said.

Bapodra said he has always leaned toward internal medicine because there are a lot of specialties within it, but since he’s been in OB-GYN, he’s enjoyed it enough to consider it.

The students said the faculty tries to make sure the students have a positive experience.

“They’re really nice. They let you actually do things from day one and there’s no pressure. You mess up on something and they’re really encouraging. It’s awesome. It’s really cool,” Bapodra said.

Dominguez said she got interested in medicine after her brother was in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

She said she was able to shadow his doctor for a half a day during her senior year of high school.

“He was amazing. One of my favorite things about him was that he would give me books and poems about empathy and the entire patient and the soul experienced through medicine, so ever since then I majored in neuroscience in college,” Dominguez added.

Barragan, who has been in the United States for 15 years, said realizing she wanted to be a physician was a gradual process. Her grandmother was sick throughout high school and college. In Colombia, if you got sick, you had to show proof of insurance or ability to pay so people would die in the emergency room.

She added that she likes the comfort of being able to get help when it’s needed.

Grundstrom said she considered medicine when she was in college and shadowed doctors.

“There wasn’t big moment that I decided, ‘Yeah, I’m going to be a doctor.’ It always seemed right. It always seemed like something I could see myself doing. Nothing ever really steered me away from it,” Grundstrom said.

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