B.S. in Biology (Pre-Medicine emphasis), Grand Canyon University
Colorado Springs, Colorado
“ This profession combines the ability to empower patients, apply critical thinking in a clinical setting, and build long-term relationships that can change the course of people's lives. ”Halley McDonald
Biomedical Sciences Student, Class of 2022 Osteopathic Medicine Student, Class of 2026
What inspired you to pursue a healthcare career? How did your background and history factor into your career choice?
My passion for a career in osteopathic medicine was shaped by my experiences working in the underserved communities of Apache Junction and Phoenix as a volunteer, public health intern, and teacher. As a volunteer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, I fell in love with the patient-physician relationship the doctors built with the children and their families. Every interaction I had with the physicians and the patients was a breadcrumb that lead me to the ultimate realization that years of obtaining medical knowledge as a physician can be used to make crucial and a lifelong positive impact on a person's life.
My time at Phoenix Children's fostered a passion for the medical field that I wanted to apply to make an impact in underserved communities around me. As a public health intern, I was able to travel to hospitals and pregnancy centers across Apache Junction to educate the community about their health and help provide food for families who were burdened by the socioeconomic impacts of a high-risk community. I enjoyed every encounter, whether this was teaching adults about hypertension, educating new moms about toddler nutrition, or attending meetings with the governor of Arizona to discuss how underserved communities can be better served. I was able to grasp the inner workings of our healthcare system and how each physician was not only able to make a difference in clinics but also in the community.
My passion to pursue osteopathic medicine was solidified during my position as a teacher at a Title 1 school in Glendale, Arizona. In this position, I learned how to communicate and empower people of different socioeconomic and cultural statuses, language barriers, and education levels. I was able to witness how my education can help build a foundation in the lives of the people that I encounter and how important the educational journey is in allowing for vertical movement in their careers and life.
It was the combination of witnessing the physician's dedication, compassion, and knowledge that led me to wholeheartedly pursue a career in medicine. It was in these moments as a volunteer, an intern, and a teacher, that I realized why I had a desire to be a physician. This profession combines the ability to empower patients, apply critical thinking in a clinical setting, and build long-term relationships that can change the course of people's lives. It is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge, and it can be disheartening at times, but on the days when all the hard work pays off, there is a human on the other side who will be forever changed by your efforts.
Why did you decide to attend Midwestern University?
Initially, I was drawn in by the rigorous curriculum of the Master of Arts in Biomedical Sciences program that I believed would best prepare me to be successful during medical school. However, as I dove deeper into the University, I began to truly value the supportive faculty, mentorship, interconnectedness of multiple healthcare professions, and the University's involvement in the community. Additionally, I valued being a part of a program that valued cultural competency, diversity, and forming an inclusive student body. I discovered all these aspects present at Midwestern University, where I found faculty working towards these goals by organizing inclusive programs such as the Bridges Program and incorporating Humanity in Medicine as a requirement for AZCOM students into the curriculum.
At Midwestern University I was not only surrounded by the support of my family and friends but the faculty that live up to the "open door policy" in everything they do. Overall, I felt that Midwestern University was the perfect fit to provide me with all the resources I needed to be successful as a future healthcare professional.
How did the Bridges program open up opportunities for you as aspiring healthcare professional?
The Bridges program opened a door that was previously closed or otherwise seemed unattainable. This program provided me with the supportive environment, mentorship, and resources that were crucial to becoming a competitive applicant in applying for and being accepted into medical school. Additionally, the Bridges program fostered an environment where diversity and inclusion are openly a part of the conversation to provide opportunities for underrepresented groups in medicine to have a seat at the table.
Growing up in Monument, Colorado, as an African American, I was always a part of the 1% of the minority population. My experiences with diversity were rare, and I never truly grasped the benefits of inclusion and cultural competency until college. My devotion to healthcare equality and community service aligned with the osteopathic mission to incorporate each person's unique and diverse background along with their mental and emotional state to bring wellness to their physical condition. As an African American female, I identify as an underrepresented minority; because of this, I am devoted to contributing to the osteopathic goal of forming a more inclusive and culturally competent environment in the medical field to continue to build equality for all groups of people. At Midwestern University the Bridges program served as the hands and feet that brought this mission into reality and provided the opportunity for me to be successful as a future healthcare professional.
What about a Midwestern University education do you want to carry forward in your career?
I aim to incorporate the relentless push towards developing a more inclusive and diverse environment and provide quality healthcare to high-risk communities.
Halley McDonald is a Class of 2022 graduate from the College of Graduate Studies Biomedical Sciences Program and Class of 2026 student from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale.