ACOFP 2021 Marie Wiseman Outstanding Osteopathic Student of the Year Award winner Heather Marie McGuire, OMS-V, shares her story in an interview with Auxiliary to the ACOFP Appointed Resident Spouse Member Stephanie Hall Campos.
Auxiliary to the ACOFP Appointed Resident Spouse Member Stephanie Hall Campos sat down with ACOFP’s 2021 Marie Wiseman Outstanding Osteopathic Student of the Year Award winner Heather Marie McGuire, OMS-V, to discuss her experiences as a non-traditional medical student with a dedication to community service, what winning the prestigious award has meant to her and why she would encourage other students to get involved and apply for the 2022 Student Awards Program.
Why did you decide to pursue medical school?
I’ve always been a person that has always wanted to help people. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s, and I would go with my grandmother to volunteer at the nursing home, because she could be with him and make sure he was getting the proper care. While she was with him, I would go around and see other residents. I enjoyed that, so it’s always been a part of my life in some way. I also had a fantastic family physician; he was such an amazing person.
Growing up non-traditional, I was the first person to go to college—let alone the only person in my family to even do anything medically related. So it was a challenge for me. But every time I would go into a field, I was always missing something. With psychiatry, I loved my patients, but I had no power to help them beyond my job duties. And so I had worked as a CNA and mental health technician. And then after that, I went to nursing school full time, while I still worked full time. There, I found my love for medicine; it was what gave me a little bit more autonomy over my patients. Even being a psychiatric nurse, I would have been able to do a lot more than I would have been able to do as a tech.
As a physician, you really get to set the path for your patient and get to be there for them on a whole other level. It was only through some amazing female mentors who said, you should try to go to medical school. So I put all my eggs in that basket and went pre-med. It was a struggle, but I got through it. And here I am. I definitely have a lot more involvement with patient care and with their planning to make sure that they’re going to do OK.
Why did you choose osteopathic family medicine?
There was one representative at a pre-med fair from an osteopathic school. And I was like, “What is this? I’ve never heard of it.” And so she had explained that osteopathic medicine was the same path, except you get this added benefit of being able to treat people using the musculoskeletal system. So I started looking at more about it, and I found out that there was a school in Kentucky, because I had been in Kentucky my whole life.
I applied to many more DO programs than I did traditional MD programs, because it’s just an added tool that you get. I feel like the way society is now, it’s less about the medication as it is and more “What can I do for my overall health? What are other things that I can do besides taking a pill all the time?” There’s so much polypharmacy out there, where people are just on a whole list of medications. If we can decrease that in any way, I’m 100% all for that.
Going in the direction of the award you received, why is community service such an important part of your life?
Two reasons. The first being, I just enjoy it. It really brings me back to why I’m doing this. Medical school is difficult, and it’s a nice way to break away from that, still do something for the community, but also do something that you enjoy. You get immediate gratification from it. I needed that during medical school—being away from family, being away from friends, being in a new place and making new friends. It’s just something that I was able to do with those new people to build new relationships and still do something great for the community.
The other reason that I love community service so much is because it just goes back to why I want to do family medicine—I just really enjoy helping people. So it’s always something that I look forward to. I currently ask a lot of the places where I’m interviewing what types of community service they have, because on the weekends—even if it’s something small—I want to be able to do it. It’s just enjoyable for me and it makes a small difference. But even that small difference can be huge for people whom you’re doing it for. And I think it’s nice to show that these are some things that we’re doing and other people should do it too. It doesn’t take much time at all. I mean, I know that I have a lot of hours, but the way that I got those hours was doing something small for just a couple hours on a weekend. It just really builds up after that.
How did the Marie Wiseman Outstanding Osteopathic Student of the Year Award impact you?
It’s probably my biggest accomplishment thus far. And it feels good. I’m weird about taking compliments, but that is one I will take because I have worked hard. I’ve overcome a lot to to be here. I’ve sacrificed a lot to do this. To be the winner of such a prestigious award is an amazing feeling. It’s gratifying. It makes me realize that all of this hard work was worth it. I’m also just super grateful. I know that it brought a lot of pride to my college. It’s an award that they can publish as well. Hopefully, that’ll encourage other students to go for awards, dream big, go out there and make a difference.
Why would you encourage other students to get involved in ACOFP and to apply for the awards offered by the Auxiliary to the ACOFP?
It doesn’t take much. You put yourself out there, and maybe you win something, and maybe you don’t. But even a little bit helps. It’ll help you not only realize that you’re in the right place for the right reasons, but it will also boost your self-esteem that you are doing something good. And it fuels you forward. In this career path, it will also strengthen your connections, not only with getting into residencies, but also in general. You get to make connections and you will get to know people that you never would have met before.
I am a huge proponent for encouraging everyone to be a part of ACOFP. It’s a standard at our school that everybody is a member. It’s free to join—why would you not? There’s just so many opportunities that are just there. So, for me, it’s always just get involved; the more that you’re involved, the more that you’re going to get out of it and the more that you’re going to get from it.
That applies to applying for awards. It’s just the next step. Get involved with ACOFP—you’ll love it. And then once you’re there, the next step is awards. Apply for them. Worst case is you don’t get them, and if you, it’s amazing. There’s so much that comes from it monetarily, but it’s nice for your own self esteem.
Learn more about the 2022 Student Awards Program, sponsored generously by the Auxiliary to the ACOFP, and submit your application by December 31.