Courtney Pitman graduated summa cum laude from Eastern New Mexico University with a bachelor's degree in biology with an emphasis in pre-medicine in December 2016. She is now preparing to start medical school at the end of July.
Which medical school will you be attending?
I have been invited to four interviews – Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM), West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) and Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM-Auburn). I attended three of the four interviews. I was accepted at ARCOM and BCOM. My admission is still pending at WVSOM. I made the decision not to attend my interview at VCOM-Auburn because prior to the invite, I had already accepted a seat in the class of 2023 at Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. My journey at ARCOM will begin at the end of July.
What inspired you to go to medical school?
I have grown up exposed to medicine. Both of my parents work in the medical field; therefore, they sparked my initial interest in medicine. I started working at an ENT clinic my freshman year and continued to work there throughout my college breaks and then full time after graduating. This is where I was exposed to different areas of medicine. I was immersed in the clinical aspect but also had the chance to experience the operating room when Dr. Potocki had surgical cases. After working for some time, I realized that being a physician was something I could envision myself doing.
Dr. Potocki played a vital role in my decision to attend medical school. He really motivated and encouraged me when I wasn't sure if medical school was the right path for me. I've learned a lot from working for him because he always finds a way to incorporate a teaching moment into whatever we are doing. I definitely consider him a mentor and appreciate all his help throughout my journey towards acceptance into medical school.
Which part of medical school are you the most excited for?
I am most excited to be exposed to different areas of medicine that I have not had the chance to experience yet. There are so many different avenues available, and I am excited to explore them.
How did ENMU prepare you to go to medical school?
ENMU is unique in the fact that it has smaller class sizes. This allowed me to build a relationship with my professors and get help if I needed it. The benefit to small class sizes is that you know the majority of the students taking the class with you. This encouraged me to form study groups, gave the opportunity to collaborate with other classmates and surrounded me with people with similar goals, which helped to keep me motivated.
What do you hope to pursue as a career?
With so much exposure to otolaryngology, it is definitely on my radar for a specialty that I would be interested in pursuing. I also liked shadowing dermatologists and anesthesiologists. Those are the three specialties I can see myself really enjoying. However, I plan to go into medical school open to other specialties because I don't want to limit myself.
What do you hope to achieve in your career?
At this point, it is too early to say. It is a major accomplishment just to get accepted into medical school. My goal is to push myself out of my comfort zone to really prepare myself to match into my desired specialty. Once I determine what kind of specialty I am going into, it will be easier to determine my future career goals from there.
I hope to become the best physician I can for my future patients, and I am confident that ARCOM will prepare me to do so. I hope to carry over some of the traits I have observed from other physicians to my own practice such as making the patient feel at ease, that their time is important and that ultimately they trust that I am working towards their best interest.
Tell us about your academic honors at ENMU.
I was on the Dean's List every semester I attended ENMU (spring 2014-fall 2016). I also was recognized on the Lone Star Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll for my duration on the soccer team.
I received an ENMU Women's Soccer Scholarship, Dr. E.L Miller Memorial Endowed Scholarship and a Freshman Academic Scholarship.
I was also a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
Which activities were you involved in at ENMU?
Outside of the classroom, I was a soccer player at ENMU. Participating in a sport at the college level is basically a full-time job. It teaches you time management, how to cope in stressful situations and how to interact with all different types of people to work cohesively as a team. I believe these experiences have prepared me to handle the rigors of medical school and will contribute to my success.
Off the field, the ENMU women's soccer team participated in many volunteer activities such as crab fest, highway trash cleanups, working sporting events and visiting children's homes. This is where a lot of my volunteer hours came from during college but after I put a lot of my time into sewing beanies for newborn babies in the NICU.
As I mentioned above, I worked at an ENT clinic in my hometown during semester breaks as a medical assistant. I am now working at the office full time until I start medical school. I really enjoy having the opportunity to work directly with patients, and it has given me insight into what I will see in medical school.
Which professors helped mentor you during your time at ENMU?
Dr. Varela was a BIG help throughout my process of applying to medical school. I would highly recommend to anyone planning on applying to medical school or any type of graduate program to utilize the resources available to you. The professors I spoke with about this process are very knowledgeable and are there to help! It is also beneficial to get to know your professors because they will be the ones writing you a letter of recommendation. The more they know you, the more they can advocate for you and your desire to become a physician.
What was your favorite class at ENMU?
It's hard to choose. There were quite a few classes I took that were really fascinating, but if I had to pick one, I would probably say endocrinology with Dr. Liu. It was interesting to learn about the hormones in the body and the impact they make.
Why did you choose to attend ENMU?
I was recruited to play soccer at ENMU. I had other offers to play at different colleges; however, I ultimately chose to attend ENMU. My deciding factors were that it was close to home and offered affordable tuition. Also, my recruiting trip helped solidify that ENMU was where I wanted to be.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in your field of study?
Oh boy, I could probably write a book full of advice. But most importantly, START EARLY! If you aren't sure if the medical field is right for you, I highly suggest shadowing different types of doctors in different settings (OR, Clinic, Hospital, ER) to really get a feel if this is something for you. If you know that medicine is the path you want to pursue, start preparing for the application process. Do your research! Getting as much clinical exposure as possible is vital.
Also, a major tip I wish I knew while I was taking my prerequisite courses is to buy a set of MCAT books (Princeton, Kaplan, etc.) and read through them at the same time you are taking your class. For example, if you are taking physics simultaneously review the physics MCAT book. Find the topics you are working on in class and supplement them with the same section in the MCAT book. Not only will this help you succeed in the class, but this will also put you way ahead when studying for the MCAT.
Another tip I have is to find something you are passionate about and stick with it (hobby, project, research, etc.). This is something that can set you apart from other applicants and make you stand out.
Tell us about your family.
I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. My parents are both from New Zealand, and the majority of my family live there. I have two siblings: Thomas, who is an accounting major at ENMU, and Danielle, who is a senior in high school.
Any additional information you would like to share?