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Amelia Bowman

Class of 2017

Aug. 16, 2013 - A physician offered Amelia Bowman this advice as she was considering entering medical school: “If you can be happy doing anything else, you should.”

By that time she had done enough homework to know her answer.

Bowman had spent years investigating medicine as a career. She’d volunteered at Vail Valley Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Colorado; shadowed physicians at Denver Health as well as ophthalmology and oral surgery clinics; interviewed medical students at different stages of their education; talked to medical professionals about their careers.

She began suspecting medicine was her career while teaching skiing fulltime and volunteering in the evenings at the Vail hospital. Later, shadowing physicians taught her how varied medicine could be.

“At the oral surgery clinic they would go through the day’s schedule in the morning and they might say, ‘We’ve got 12 wisdom teeth (extractions) today.’ That all sounds the same, but you realize quickly that every case is a little different from the others.”

She had also worked with Project C.U.R.E, a Denver group that distributes used and leftover American medical supplies to 130 counties, shipping 40-foot cargo containers filled with items like X-ray machines, ultrasounds, needles, IV fluid.

Her job involved coordinating visits for medical professionals once the shipment arrived at its destination.

“It combined two of my biggest interests - travel and medicine - very nicely,” she says.

There, Bowman learned the ins and outs of other types of health systems – or non-systems.

“It will be interesting to try to find ways to improve our system based on what works in other countries,” she says. “One common thread from the U.S. and anywhere else in the world is how much need there is for access to quality care and quality medication. I’m really excited to learn how to be part of the solution because there is need everywhere.”

She saw that the lack of a clear health care system can have its benefits.

“I was really impressed by the work ethic and the passion I saw. I think everyone here is guilty of taking what we have for granted. (Abroad) they use resources so creatively and thoroughly. There is innovation and passion I’d like to see more of here.

“For example, if they don’t have the right piece of equipment, they’ll do things like add some tubing to make it work. There’s a resourcefulness that’s really good. The rules here are created with the best of intensions, but they can hamper creativity and innovation.”

There’s a downside though, too, “like reusing sterile gloves.”

She learned that health needs are the same all over, but the scale is different.

“The most shocking things were not the person who’d been mauled by wild animals or affected by tropical disease, but cases of hypertension or diabetes that were completely uncontrolled. I regularly would see blood sugars over 500. Here 200 is considered uncontrolled. It was a learning experience to see the symptoms from a pathology that has progressed so far.

Interesting work - but she already knew it wasn’t enough.

“I’d seen different positions that could lead to lifetime careers, but I wouldn’t have been satisfied,” says Bowman, 26. “By process of elimination I became certain.”

Knowing the need for good doctors will help motivate her these next four years.

“I hope that when I have a long night studying I can remember that one more hour won’t kill me. And that next time I see a problem, I’ll know what to do to help someone.”