Recent grad drawn to health care amid pandemic

Recent grad drawn to health care amid pandemic

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lexy Clark ’20 was home in North Carolina when she received the news that she was accepted into medical school.

She was excited that her time at PC led to her medical education, although she wished she could celebrate the final semester’s accomplishments with roommates, friends and professors.

“I have grown so close to the faculty members in the biology and history departments, specifically, and it would have been nice to be able to go by their offices and tell them in person,” said Clark, who earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and history. “One upside to finding out while I was at home was that I was able to tell my family right away.”

Heading to med school

Clark learned that she had been accepted to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine while home in Statesville near the end of April. She was able to hug her parents right then instead of relaying the message over the phone from Clinton. She still emailed professors even though she couldn’t run and meet them on campus.

The pandemic has made things seem surreal for Clark and other graduating seniors. And she admits she’s entering school during a time of adjustment and uncertainty. Still, she said the crisis has made her surer about her decision to pursue a career in medicine.

“Health care professionals are getting a lot more recognition today, and the pandemic has made the need for medical workers much clearer,” Clark said. “We are starting to acknowledge the risks that come with a profession in health care much more now, but I feel even more drawn to the career.”

She says she’s just as interested in the personal aspects of being a doctor. She likes the idea of being there for patients in a time of social distancing as much as the scientific knowledge involved.

“A passion for sharing knowledge”

Clark, a former president of the Pre-Medical Club at PC, is still exploring what specialty she will pursue. She is interested in OB and Family Medicine after shadowing several specialties this past summer through the Finding Your Future program at USC.

Her pre-med advisor, Dr. Austin Shull, nominated her and two other students for the program. Clark thinks her professors and PC prepared her “extremely well” for medical school.

“Being at PC, such a small school, I had access to so many more leadership roles on campus, which I think played a large role in making my application attractive to schools,” she said. “Also, my research opportunities at PC gave me lots to talk about in interviews.”

Clark completed various research papers and presentations on the history of medicine and believes her history major helped her application stand out.

“My Senior Capstone project with Dr. (Jaclyn) Sumner for history was centered on the medical traditions of the indigenous people of the Americas during the pre-Columbian period and how those practices affected the medical discourse of the world following the Spanish Conquest,” Clark said.

She also researched dendroclimatology with biology professor Dr. Mike Rischbieter in the Summer Fellows program following her sophomore year. She says many of the physicians and medical students she spoke to during interviews found the topic interesting.

“Throughout my time at PC, I have found a passion for sharing knowledge,” Clark said, “with my research endeavors being more unique, many of my presentations centered on educating the audience as to what the topic actually was.

“For example, dendroclimatology sounds like a difficult topic, but it is rather simple when explained as the measuring of tree rings and the comparison of those measurements to the weather patterns in the area. I feel that this is similar to the act of explaining a complex medical condition to a patient.”

The best doctors are educators 

Clark’s grandmother, who served as an inspiration to her, was a teacher. Clark feels doctors have similar duties as teachers.

“The best doctors are the ones who educate their patients about their medical conditions, rather than simply prescribing a treatment and moving on,” Clark said. “My grandmother passed away last May, but being by her side throughout her care and observing her doctors inspired me, as well.”

Clark will head to Columbia this summer to prepare for school.

“With regard to the pandemic and my inspirations, I think that seeing the risks involved with a profession in the medical field and still feeling drawn to it has affirmed my goals.”

Find Your Major

Lexy majored in biology and history on her way to medical school. Please visit Majors, Minors, and Programs for more about the academic programs that can prepare you for where you want to go.