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Student DOs of the Month – January 2019


Alicia Benson
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Alma Mater: Arizona State University, majored in Biology with concentration in Physiology
Favorite Rotation So Far: My family medicine rotation was with Dr. Kumar in Green Valley, a retirement community just outside of Tucson. The patients were all geriatric and so sweet and easy going. They treated myself, the other students, and the physician with so much respect. I participated in patient care, history taking, physical exams, and several procedures. Dr. Kumar was a great teacher and taught myself and the other student I was with many important concepts and encouraged us to read up on relevant info and present it to him the next day. He also challenged us to present differential diagnoses on every patient, which kept the information I had learned first and second year sharp. The combination of learning through doing and reading made me feel very confident in my skill set.
Lessons Learned: How to discuss sensitive topics with patients. While in school and doing standardized patient exams, I struggled in this area. Through watching my preceptors bring things up, such as cancer, I have learned a very professional way to go about this. I think this is an invaluable skill and something I will use throughout my entire career.
Osteopathic Benefits: I have used OMM on several patients, for complaints of back pain to asthma exacerbation. Every patient that I have treated has been pleased with the result, and it has been great to educate him or her on this aspect of our profession. The osteopathic philosophy has also been very helpful, especially in broad fields like family medicine and internal medicine. This reminds me to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms, and helps me keep my differentials and ideas for treatment plans broad.
Perceptions of Tucson: I love Tucson! I love the desert climate, and Tucson is a very nice mix between a small town feel and a big city. Living in Tucson has been a great experience.
Fun Fact: I know the words to almost every popular early 2000’s song. I was big into the pop culture scene as a kid.

Eastern New Mexico

Alexander Lam
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Alma Mater: Texas A&M University; double majored in Biomedical Science and Entomology.
Favorite Rotation So Far: Surprisingly, obstetrics has been my favorite rotation by far. I went in expecting to not like it at all, but on my first night in Labor and Delivery, the doctor I was with allowed me to deliver a baby on my own. That moment changed everything for me. Obstetrics is all about bringing life into this world. What’s not to love?
Lessons Learned: There’s a lot of lessons to be learned out on clinicals. I think the most common (and important) one across all my rotations so far is the idea of remaining humble. Humility is the foundation upon which many other important virtues lie such as kindness, compassion, and patience. If you never lose that foundation, you’ll never lose your true self. Patients benefit from having humble providers.
Perceptions of Eastern New Mexico: Life in general is more simple, slower, and quieter out here in rural New Mexico. That said, medicine is busy, busy, busy. In an area with so few providers, the ones that are here receive lots of gratitude from their patients. I don’t think I’ve ever seen patients so kind and eternally grateful for their care as I’ve seen here. It’s very motivating and inspiring to see, especially as a medical student.
Surprising Fact: A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them this but in college I double majored in Entomology (study of bugs and insects), and did a minor in Anthropology. I’m fascinated in all areas of Biology. Entomology has a lot of applications in medicine, but it’s also an interesting discipline to study in and of itself. I enjoyed studying Anthropology to learn more about the diversity of life throughout time and throughout the world. It’s opened my eyes to many more cultures and religions that I would not have otherwise known about.


Stephanie Ayala
Hometown: Saratoga Springs, New York
Alma Mater: I trained to become a paramedic first and then went back to school at the State University of NY-Albany to finish my bachelor’s degree in Human Biology. My degree was interdisciplinary; Biology and Anthropology.
Favorite Rotation So Far: Pulmonary critical care. It was a combination of having an amazing preceptor and the acuity/complexity of the patients. My preceptor always pushed me to learn new things and every day I was learning something that expanded on my current knowledge. I spent a few days in the cardiac ICU unit as well, which was an awesome experience. It was great to be exposed to so many procedures including flexible bronchoscopy, central line placement, arterial line placement, and invasive hemodynamic monitoring.
Lessons Learned: The art of presenting a patient. Every patient deserves respect, and an non-judgmental approach. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Every patient and clinical rotation holds knowledge for us, we just have to look for it.
Osteopathic Benefits: Many of my preceptors and support staff have pointed out that they notice a difference in how we DO students interact with patients and our approach to certain topics. For instance, considering someone’s home lifestyle, religion, or financial status when prescribing a medication or coming up with a treatment plan. Most MD preceptors I’ve worked with have asked for OMM treatment and patients respond very well to it.
Perceptions of Albuquerque: The diversity in Albuquerque is great from a med student-patient standpoint. In general, it’s a decent sized city with a lot of the things people from bigger cities crave-shopping, night life, great restaurants; while still providing access to outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, camping, etc. My favorite thing to do is attend the farmers markets; they have 2 great ones here every week (during the season).
Free Time Fun: Some of the things I enjoy include reading, travel, cooking, dancing, and hiking. I started playing poker several years ago and one of my bucket list goals is to play in the World Series of Poker.

Las Cruces

Jessica Jacob
Phoenix, Arizona
Alma Mater: 
University of Arizona for my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics with a minor in Business, and a Masters of Medical Science obtained from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Favorite Rotation So Far: I have had many favorites during my year. I loved OB/GYN because it was a mix of everything surgery/clinic/continuous care, but it was also my first. I loved general surgery and could have lived in that OR 24/7; the procedures were phenomenal and having the patients wake up and feel better is immediately satisfying. Finally, I loved internal medicine because of the mystery and trying to unravel why a patient is sick and realizing that no two patients respond to the same treatment.
Lesson Learned: Eat when you can.
Osteopathic Benefits: I think that being trained the way we have, we tend to ask different socioeconomic and holistic questions to patients, and I have treated patients I admitted to the hospital with OMT that seemed to alleviate some of their musculoskeletal symptoms.
Free Time Fun: Other than spending quality family time with my husband and two cats, binge watching Netflix and I love playing video games. I recently got Red Dead Redemption II and Fall Out 76 that I enjoy when I can.
Surprising Fact: Per my parents, I am Native American on both sides, Arizona Cherokee (my grandmother was a medicine woman), and Idaho Black Foot.
Future Plans: I have loved everything, so as I keep telling my attending physicians–I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I want to be a doctor.

El Paso

Mikhail de Jesus
New York, New York
Alma Mater: Cornell University. I graduated with a B.S. in Human Development.
Favorite Rotation So Far: Cardiology with Dr. Ed Assi (pictured above, left). I really enjoyed the balance of the clinical aspect in the clinic/hospital and the technical aspect in the catheterization lab. Dr. Assi let me be very hands-on during my rotation, and my time with him convinced me that interventional cardiology is the field I’m meant to pursue instead of surgery.
Lessons Learned: Always stay suspicious, even when you think something may be very benign. Always keep a broad differential in your mind. It can be very easy to miss an important diagnosis. I personally think this is hard to do because the tests and the board exams require you to figure out the exact diagnosis based on the clinical picture. It’s difficult to shift your mentality from “this is the only diagnosis that fits” to “it could be any of a, b, c, d, or e possible diagnoses.”
Osteopathic Benefits: There’s been a recent trend where mental health and overall wellness have been more openly discussed in the main stream media. We see many celebrities, athletes, and social media influencers talking about their diets and exercise routines and their experiences and struggles with mental health issues. These people have been promoting the osteopathic philosophy. The first tenet of osteopathic medicine is the body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit. Whenever we see patients and listen to their concerns we always look for organic causes of patient symptoms first, but if they get ruled out, then we have to consider other possible causes and take a look at the broader picture. With the increasing awareness of the importance of mental health, nutritional health, and the fairly common preference of patients to avoid medications whenever possible, I would say that this is a great time to be a DO.
Perceptions of El Paso: It is very clear that El Paso needs more physicians. Coming from New York City where people can choose from a large list of specialists in any specialty to El Paso where a certain specialty can have only 5 or 6 specialists in town, is eye opening. The people of El Paso share many of the same health problems; so much so that one of my preceptors jokingly called the combination of diabetes, high cholesterol, and vitamin D deficiency “El Paso Syndrome.” The city needs to take a multifaceted approach that attracts more physicians to this area and increases emphasis on public health education for these preventable diseases.
Free Time Fun:  I enjoy golfing. Las Cruces and El Paso have some nice courses with beautiful views. I’m an aspiring horologist; I will likely take up watchmaking whenever I retire.