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Student DOs of the Month

Eastern New Mexico

Megan Ellis
Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Alma Mater: Michigan State University, majored in Microbiology and minored in Spanish
Favorite Rotation So Far: Pediatrics, which surprised me immensely. I never saw myself working with children, but after spending four weeks with kiddos, I learned much more than I thought I would. Kids reacts differently to stressors, such as dehydration or sore throats, than adults would. Almost everything with children can be taken at face value, whereas adults might exaggerate or underplay their illness. Not to mention that babies are incredibly adorable, especially when you can make them smile. I was always excited to go to the clinic or inpatient ward, and I was never ready to leave at the end of the day.
Lessons Learned: Keep an open mind. I never thought I would like pediatrics, but now it is the specialty that I see myself practicing in the future. Every rotation, I’ve learned to always try to find learning opportunities, even if the rotation is not my personal preference. All of the doctors I’ve met have been more than helpful with every question, every complicated patient, and every chance I took to learn. The more you invest in your experience, the more the preceptors notice and try to teach you as much as possible.
Perceptions of Eastern NM: I love Roswell! I grew up and went to high school in a very small town. Roswell has the small town feel that I love, but there are still many things to do close by. Skiing is only an hour away, the lake is only 30 minutes, and on a longer trip, I could even walk the caverns in Carlsbad. Roswell’s medical community is also very close. I see the same people in the doctors’ lounge every day and have built strong relationships with all of my previous preceptors. All of the teaching is one-on-one, which is unlike some other hubs/schools. The hospital and clinics are very receptive to having students and I feel welcomed every single day.
Free Time Fun: I enjoy traveling to Ruidoso with friends, Netflix-binging with my fiancé, and playing with my labradoodle, Huckleberry.


Harika Sandhu
Hometown: Palmdale, California
Alma Mater: University of California, Los Angeles, B.S. in Psychobiology
Why Osteopathic Medicine?: I am drawn to the holistic approach to treatment the osteopathic philosophy emphasizes. I try to incorporate balance into my life, and knew I wanted to help my future patients do the same.
Favorite Rotation So Far: It’s a tough choice between Family Medicine and Psychiatry. I feel drawn to both fields as they require the healthcare provider to be a good listener. Although this is the case for every field of medicine, I find that its especially important in these two fields in order to develop a close, lasting therapeutic relationship with the patient.
Lessons Learned: I’ve learned it’s important to stay calm and let patients describe how they are feeling. A lot of clinical questions can be answered this way, while also helping the patient feel supported.
Perceptions of Tucson: Tucson is a great place for me as a third year medical student. The pace of life is calm enough for me to be reflective, yet still challenge myself.
Benefits of OMM: It’s been nice to inform patients with chronic pain about OMM. For patients that have had years of chronic pain without any relief no matter what they’ve tried, it is exciting to offer them one more resource that might help them experience more comfort on a daily basis.
Fun Fact: I can speak three languages.


Abigail M. Etters
Hometown: Oceanside, California
Alma Mater: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, majored in Biochemistry and minored in Mathematics and Spanish.
Favorite Rotation So Far: It is difficult to choose a favorite rotation because I have appreciated unique learning moments during each. Surgery taught me the true value of teamwork, Psychiatry boosted my patient interviewing skills to a new level, and OB/GYN has emphasized the importance of establishing trust with my patients. Psychiatry was particularly compelling because I naturally enjoy meeting new people and actively listening to their stories. It was also enlightening to learn the delicate balance between following conversational flow and directing the interview to obtain necessary details for diagnosis and treatment.
Lessons Learned: No two patients are the same. There is something unique to learn from every patient. I make an effort to reflect on each of my patient interactions to grow in both knowledge and wisdom – greater knowledge of the medical field and wisdom in making treatment decisions, communicating with my patients, and working together with my colleagues.
Perceptions of Albuquerque: Albuquerque is a vibrant city with unique traditions and a very interesting patient population. I am consistently amazed at the amount of variety this area has to offer in both urban and rural pursuits.
Fun Fact: I am a musician at heart. I was classically trained on the piano (18 years) and harp (14 years) with annual evaluations in music theory and performance. I also enjoyed doubling as a harpist and percussionist in orchestra for a few years.
Future Goals: A wise physician once told me “don’t pursue the specialty you love, pursue the specialty that allows you to do what you love.” For me, this will involve a balance of practicing medicine in an underserved area and prioritizing time with my family.

Las Cruces

Emily Hanka
Phoenix, Arizona, but born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota 
Alma Mater: 
B.S. from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; Master’s in Psychology in Organizational Leadership from Adler Graduate School. Going to medical school is a fourth “re-career” after working in environmental education, working with youth and families with the YMCA, and having my own management consulting business for high-performance teaming & leadership. I feel like medicine is a perfect match of leadership, science, and relationships with patients.
Why BCOM?: The vision and mission of serving the underserved and serving the borderland. The physician shortage is real, and I want to be a part of the solution.
Rotations Completed So Far: Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and now I’m in Orthopedic Surgery, during which I have been able to see multiple total knee, total hip and total shoulder replacements, ACL reconstruction, fracture reduction, casting, hand surgery, and some outpatient sports medicine. This will inform my future practice in primary care, as so many patients across their lifetimes will have some sort of orthopedic problem.
Lessons Learned: Integrity, trust, communication, and relationships are key to serving patients, and assisting them to regain health and prevent disease. These are also key to working successfully with colleagues and staff that are also serving patients. It’s a team effort!
Perceptions of Las Cruces: There is great need for compassionate health care in the Las Cruces and Alamogordo areas. Physician shortage can lead to physicians/providers becoming complacent or cavalier or burned out and patients can suffer. This is a beautiful area with kind people who are doing their best to do well for themselves and their families, and I sincerely hope some of my fellow classmates and I can continue to practice here after our residency training.
Free Time Fun: Yoga, camping in my Vintage Gulfstream trailer, and hiking with my family. I used to lead wilderness trips for teenagers (canoeing, backpacking and rock climbing) in northern Minnesota. I still own a cabin and 20 acres of land in the Arrowhead area of Minnesota, but I can’t stand being cold anymore – hence why I’ve made the desert my permanent home!

El Paso

Natalie Siegfried
Duncan, Oklahoma
Alma Mater: University of Central Oklahoma, Marketing; University of Maryland, Business
Favorite Rotation So Far: I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the Emergency Department thus far.  However, I think my favorite rotation, to my surprise, has been General Surgery. Dr. Shimunov’s mentorship and teaching approach during that rotation allowed me to experience General Surgery as it truly is, with both the good and the bad. I walked away from that month feeling like general surgery could be a natural fit for me.
Lessons Learned: Ensuring a patient has their needs met in all aspects of their healthcare is the most important lesson I have learned this year. Whether that is helping a patient understand test results, guiding a patient in lifestyle modifications, assisting in transportation home, or simply listening to the patient. Ultimately, helping the patient be the driver of his or her care and well-being is the most important thing I have learned from my clerkships.
Perceptions of El Paso: I have been impressed by the kindness of El Pasoans throughout the city, but I am most impressed with the importance El Pasoans place on their heritage and culture, and their willingness to share and celebrate their culture with others. 
Future Goals: 
My personal goal is to begin my medical career in Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, or Surgery (or perhaps some sort of mix thereof). While I do not yet know what the future holds for me, it is my greatest hope that I can continue my education and career in the borderland of Texas/New Mexico, leaving a positive impact on healthcare and the people in this region.