Name: Whitney Stuard
Medical School: UT Southwestern
County Medical Society: Dallas CMS
Social Media Handle: @whitneystuard (instagram), @stuardwhitney (twitter), /whitney.stuard (facebook)
Why do you think your section is an important part of TMA?
The medical student section is important to the future of TMA and organized medicine. I believe the role of the medical student section is two-fold (1) it is to provide an introduction and education to students to organized medicine and advocacy as they continue in their careers and (2) it is to provide an opportunity to present new ideas to the TMA from eager students. To begin, the medical student section trains students to be able to understand the importance of organized medicine and their participation. For example, TMA gave me the opportunity to take the disparities I saw while volunteering in medical school and write policy. One policy I wrote, that was passed by the TMA, was about sobriety requirements for Hep C treatment that exist within Medicaid laws in Texas, which then leads to many patients with Hepatitis C and co-occurring substance use disorder to not be able to access treatment. Through this process not only did I learn a great deal and have wonderful TMA physician guidance, but I was also able to be helpful and serve my community. This year, I was even able to write a resolution on corneal transplantation guidelines. Overall, the medical section gave other students and myself a positive learning environment and physician guidance to allow us to learn how we can best make a difference in medicine.
What benefits have you derived from your membership in the section?
Throughout my academic career, I have been an advocate for helping others. By holding positions in the MSS and TMA, I have found fulfillment in working with a team to create high-impact policy changes and teaching other students how to do the same. Over this past year, I served as the TMA-MSS reporter and I am now serving as the TMA-MSS Alt. Delegate to the AMA HOD. Through these experiences, I was given the opportunity to coordinate a board of students, be a part of policy review, and mentor students on policy writing. My past roles on the TMA Candidate Evaluation Committee and the TMA Ad-Hoc Committee provided me with the chance to speak with people from diverse backgrounds and discuss gaps in healthcare access. I have also held roles as the UTSW student representative for the TEXPAC Board of Directors, the UTSW TMA co-president, and the UTSW TMA Delegate, in these positions, I learned how to organize meetings and create new initiatives. In all these positions, I continued to gain leadership experience, which has helped me in my work to this day. I was also honored to be chosen as the Student of the Year in 2021. Serving in these positions has allowed me to expand my passion for working with other physicians and students to enact change and provided me with extensive knowledge of the healthcare system.
Who or what inspired your medical career?
Collectively, my motivation to care for patients and push the boundaries of medicine will fulfill my drive to become a physician scientist in the eld of ophthalmology. As a physician-scientist, I will have the opportunity to effect change not just in society’s current state, but also in its future. To me, the eyes are the most magical part of the human body: a combination of art, emotion, and science. The eye’s value and importance in everything we do attract me to the core mission of the profession. I hope to mold this interest, which I have developed through both my laboratory and clinical experiences, to make contributions to restoring sight to those who have lost it.
However, I know as a physician-scientist my role can go beyond the laboratory and the hospital through organized medicine. I have learned the importance of advocacy and policy writing. Personally, I would like to model myself after one of my personal role models Dr. Robert Gunby, a TMA member. Not only did he deliver me as a baby, but he has been making an impact on my life ever since. His dedication to his patients, advocacy, and medicine as a whole is something I hope to embody in my own career.
What is your favorite pastime or hobby?
I am a marathon runner. When I started my MD/PhD I had never run more than a 5K. However, everyone told me that completing my MD/PhD would be a marathon not a sprint, so I took this advice to heart. I decided if I could complete all of these years of education, what was to stop me from running a real marathon. I began training one year before my first marathon and I found the harder I worked in medical school and graduate school the more motivated I became to run farther. My first marathon was the Marine Corp marathon in DC, followed by the Chicago Marathon, and the New York City Marathon. I have absolutely loved running and finally found a hobby that challenges me just like my work does.