Brenda Pecotte de Gonzalez, OMS II at A.T. Still University-SOMA Awarded $5,000 TOMF Founders' Scholarship

May 28, 2015 Pecotte de Gonzalez, OMS II, grew up in the small town of DeForest, Wisconsin and wants to be a family physician, just like the one who took care of her whole extended family while growing up.  “He (the doctor) did everything, from well-child checks to stitches to chronic condition management and to coordination of care with specialists.  I really like that family medicine allows seeing all ages and offers a large scope of practice, including preventive medicine.”  She really looks forward to discovering what “style” she’ll develop as she enters practice.  We asked Brenda a few questions about her path to medicine, daily life as a medical student and her future endeavors as an osteopathic physician. Read on to find out more.

1. What is your hometown?
I am originally from DeForest, Wisconsin (a small town about 20min north of Madison, Wisconsin). I went to undergrad at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. I moved to Tucson, Arizona in August 2009 where I completed an Masters in Public Health in 2012 and Masters of Arts in Latin American Studies in 2013 at the University of Arizona.

2. What caused you to choose medicine as a career?
I always remember thinking that I would go into a medical or healthcare career. My younger sister was born premature and has cerebral palsy. I remember going with her to many doctor's visits and visiting her when she was in the hospital, so I think that personal experience helped plant the seed in me that the medical profession can help and have a deep impact on not only the person but their family. As I got older, I realized how much I liked learning about and studying the human body. The more I explored various career options, the more I always came back to medicine and realized that is where I wanted to be.

3. Which specialty do you plan to practice?
Family Medicine - I think this has been my plan since day 1. I grew up going to see a family practice doctor who took care of my whole family. He did everything from well-child checks, stitches, chronic condition management and coordination of care with specialists. I really like that is allows seeing all ages and offers a large scope of practice including preventative medicine.

4. What does your typical school day look like?

This is a bit complicated to answer since every day is different with the ATSU-SOMA curriculum in second year at our CHC campuses; I am at the Tucson Community Health Center campus at El Rio Community Health Center. It may be easier to do it as a week. Mondays are test days if there is a test scheduled that week for one of our courses (either OPP, Epi/Biostats, Block course). Tuesdays are available for us to study the didactic lectures. Wednesdays we have OPP in the morning and the afternoons are for Medical Skills course activity. Thursdays are clinic days where in our second year we spend the day in clinic either with a physician or another health professional. Friday mornings we have small group presentations and clinical case presentations. Most evenings I spend studying and spending time with my husband.

5. What qualities do you look for in a mentor or role model?

All the people I consider mentors have been those individuals who have been authentic and honest with me in sharing their experiences and answering questions. They truly love what they are doing and want to share that with me. Also, they have made themselves available and have actively taken the time and interest for teaching and mentoring.

6. As a mentor and role model yourself, what advice would you give to a student considering medicine as a career?
-Take every opportunity you can to learn something new and show your enthusiasm for medicine. It is those opportunities-whether personally, volunteering, shadowing, working- that really showed me what a career in medicine means and also helped open doors to where I am now.
-Seek out opportunities-volunteering, shadowing or working- in the medical field that really interest you because that is where you will learn the most and be invested. Realize that some places or people will say no and that is okay. Don't be afraid to reach out to your family and friends for connections and networking. Also, current medical students and residents are great resources, too!
-Take a moment and write down what makes you excited or motivates you to pursue this and keep it somewhere to remind you. Always remember how fortunate you are and that it is a privilege to study medicine and one day practice. Although I am only two years into my training, I think it is the perspective that you start school with that will motivate and encourage you as you progress through the various courses and clinical experiences.

7. What is the most interesting thing you've discovered so far in your medical training?
Patients really are the reason you become a doctor. Thus far, the majority of patients I have seen in clinic are very receptive to letting a medical student see them during their appointment and be involved in their care. Often they are interested as to why I want to be a doctor. They are some of your biggest supporters offering words of encouragement and support. Every patient is unique and really will teach you something new.

Also, I don't know if this is the most interesting, but maybe the most encouraging. There have been a number of occasions either when at home studying or during a clinic day or while talking to friends where I think "this is exactly what I want to be doing and where I want to be".

8. What are you most excited about doing after you become a physician?

I like being a part of the community where I live and the larger community, so I hope to continue that as a physician. I am most excited to see where I will be practicing and what my style will be. I have heard and been told by many physicians that over time you develop your own style. After having shadowed and worked with a number of physicians already and more to come and been able to pull from those experiences, I am curious to see what my style will be. Also, I don't think I realized how much variety and paths exist in medicine, so I am excited to see if there is a particular direction within medicine that I am drawn to.
I am also looking forward to having continuity with patients and using the osteopathic principles in every day practice. I have enjoyed learning OMM and using it in clinic and with family and friends. 

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