The following is an interview from when Hillary was a medical student at Midwestern University's Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine.
For Hillary Carnell, life is about being of service. From volunteering for mission trips to providing medical care for the homeless, she is always looking for ways to help.
It's in her genes. Her sister is a missionary, her mother a care minister. Both her parents visited Russia for mission work, and she started going on her own mission trips in college. "Growing up in that environment made me want to go into the path of service," says Hillary Carnell, AZCOM student, accomplished athlete, and dedicated community outreach leader.
In Jackson, Mississippi, during sophomore year, she helped the Spencer Perkins Foundation with racial reconciliation projects aimed at trying to understand and acknowledge current racial struggles. During junior year, she visited Johannesburg, South Africa to work with nurses providing home-base care for patients with HIV. She and other volunteers visited people's homes, providing medications, clothing, housecleaning and even some construction help. "It was so much fun," enthuses Hillary. "You can become addicted to community service, because it's such a great experience you want to keep doing it!"
It was her love of community service that especially drew Hilary to AZCOM. "It's beautiful here," she says, "I was very impressed with the whole interview process, and everything everyone said. But I especially liked knowing there was a large underserved community in the Valley area that I would be able to work with."
You can become addicted to community service-it's such a great experience you want to keep doing it!"
— Hillary Carnell, D.O., AZCOM Class of 2012
During her college mission trip to Johannesburg, Hillary's passion for volunteer work intersected momentarily with her other life-long passion: athletics. She recalls her awe at seeing the soccer stadium being constructed there. "Most people at MWU don't know I was an athlete my whole life," she says. "I played soccer since I was five, including four years at Ohio Wesleyan and 10 years of club soccer, and I also coached for two years." She has played in a few local leagues around the Phoenix area as well, in addition to campus intramurals.
When Hillary talks, deep determination emerges from her usual quiet focus, and it is not difficult to imagine her as a life-long athlete. A comforting sense of discipline and purpose seems to underlie everything she does, so it was a surprise only to her to be nominated last year for Student D.O. of the Year. While she did not win the award, the nomination itself is an example of her many quiet successes on campus, from service to athletics to leadership as Coordinator of the HOME (Health Outreach through Medicine and Education) project during her second year on campus.
For HOME, Hillary oversaw student volunteers, organized supplies and schedules, worked with site coordinators for three downtown homeless shelter sites, managed budgets and grant writing, and served as liaison with Alan Schalscha, D.O., Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, the club's faculty advisor. All of this in an effort to provide quality medical care and education to a mostly homeless population, while creating experiences for AZCOM students to work with a unique local population.
"I absolutely loved it!" says Hillary. "It was a whole lot of work, but we were able to expand from the previous year and add a pediatrics night at the Vista Colina site three times a month, plus two health fairs through the United Methodist Outreach Ministries (UMOM) site." Hillary and her team also added a dental component to the project, which now includes students from all of MWU's colleges: AZCOM, the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona, the College of Pharmacy-Glendale, the College of Health Sciences, and the Arizona College of Optometry. With the recent expansions to the HOME project, more than 500 MWU students provide close to 700 patient visits throughout the year at the three Phoenix sites.
"I didn't mind putting in all the time," she says. "It was really enjoyable; anything we did directly affected the population we served. It was very rewarding."
Hillary's dream is to be able to go into a community as a physician and have enough resources to provide care to all who need it, and to change it through quality health care and education. She is well on her way to realizing that dream. This past year, she received a National Health Services Corp scholarship, which provides free medical school tuition for four years in return for post-graduation service as a primary care physician in a federally-designated underserved area. "Being able to go into service right after residency is really neat," she shares, her face lighting up with anticipation.
She especially likes the idea of free clinics "to fill that gap our society isn't able to fill," she says. "Or even just to provide that peace of mind. . . ."
Hillary Carnell, D.O., is a 2012 graduate of the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, located on the Glendale Campus of Midwestern University.