Paging Brittany May
If it weren’t for the helpful staff members at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) at Arkansas State University (A-State), lead student ambassador Brittany May may not have considered attending the school. She is now part of the inaugural class and isn’t wasting any time immersing herself in campus life and her field. She is a member of both the Student Osteopathic Medical Association and Minorities in Medicine. She sat down with The Box to talk about why she chose to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine, her experience at NYITCOM at A-State, and what excites her most about becoming a doctor.
Why did you choose NYIT?
For me, the deciding factor was the staff. The first time I interacted with the staff at Jonesboro, I spoke on the phone with Vicki Walker, associate director of financial aid, for over an hour. I can’t remember what I called to talk to her about, but I remember her kindness and excitement to have my class at the school. She provided me information about Jonesboro, the school, and she also helped me look at apartments all in our first phone call! I remember ending the call excited and not as scared to go to Jonesboro, which was four hours from my hometown. Another experience that solidified my choice for NYITCOM was the tour of the school that I went on with my parents. Clair Collins [former associate director of admissions] was another staff member that made me feel excited and proud to be accepted to the school. It was a great tour and my parents and I left knowing that I had 100 percent made a good choice.
Why did you choose to study osteopathic medicine?
I chose osteopathic medicine because of its focus in patient care. We are taught to see a patient first, not the disease. We try to understand how a disease is affecting the individual. What I like most about my school is the way we are taught medicine. From day one we are introduced to patient-centered care: how to treat patients, how to talk to patients, and of course how to perform exams. I believe that it is our early exposure to these things that make us very patient-friendly and compassionate.
What excites you about your future career as a doctor of osteopathic medicine?
Osteopathic medicine, as a field, has endless possibilities. Interacting with my instructors, most of whom are either doctors of osteopathic medicine or medical doctors (MD), has introduced the idea of practicing both medicine and working in academia, which I never considered until now. In the South, there is a huge lack of education about osteopathic medicine, especially in my state (I’m from Jackson, Mississippi) where the only osteopathic school was built about seven years ago. This summer, I had the opportunity to go back to my undergraduate institute, Tougaloo College, and speak to students about what it means to be a D.O., and provide information about NYIT. It was great to opportunity because so many of the students never heard of a D.O., but left interested in learning more.
When I explained what osteopathic manipulative medicine was, many of them immediately responded with statements like, “Oh my shoulder hurts, can you fix me?” or “My back hurts, can you help me?” I had to tell them I could not actually perform medicine on them, but it was nice to see their enthusiasm. So educating other students and individuals about osteopathic medicine is something that excites me because there is such a need for it and it really opens their eyes to a branch of medicine that they don’t know about.
Are you working with any NYIT faculty or staff members on a project?
This summer I worked with Assistant Professor Amanda Deel, Clair Collins, and other faculty and staff members to coordinate and plan PROJECT H.E.A.R.T (Health Education Advocacy Reflection and Training). This program is designed for students to explore healthcare careers, learn about healthcare needs in the Delta [region], and discover ways they could make a difference in healthcare challenges in their communities. As an ambassador, I was a mentor to high school students and also helped the planning and execution of this program. I loved interacting with young students from the Arkansas area and educating them on various health professions. We also provided them an opportunity to see what we did as medical students and also learn about osteopathic medicine.
What advice would you give to a prospective student and for someone applying to NYIT specifically?
When I spoke with the students at my undergrad college, I encouraged them to stay focused on what they want. I let them know that medical school is not easy and it takes A LOT of hard work, but this is something that I am passionate about and I am ready to work hard for it. When you have found something that you are passionate about and something that will inspire to stay up until 1 a.m. studying because you want to do your best, then absolutely that is what you should pursue. It’s important to find something that you will go the distance for, something that even if you are told “no,” you will still pursue it as a career because it is what you truly want.
When applying to NYITCOM, I would suggest really understanding the aim and mission of the program. Talk to other students, meet some of the staff, and take a tour of the campus to make sure that it’s what you’re looking for. Also make sure you understand the type of curriculum you will have and how NYITCOM specifically can add to your journey to becoming a D.O. There are many other medical schools, so you should definitely understand everything that NYITCOM has to offer and how it will make you a better osteopathic doctor.