Okla. When Cherokee Nation citizen Socia Love Thurman was younger,
she periodically watched her parents work as emergency medical technicians,
which piqued her interest in medicine.
"That kind of sparked my interest
in it and then I just kind of watched them my whole life and saw
that it was a really rewarding career to work with people and serve
them through health care," the 25-year-old said.
Although her plans are to become a doctor,
that wasn't always the case. While attending the University
of Oklahoma she first majored in nursing.
"Nobody in my family is a doctor
and I just wasn't sure if I was capable of doing that. But
I remember someone telling me 'this is your chance. If you
even remotely think that that's what you want to do then you
just need to go after it and do it,'" she said. "So
I ended up changing my major to pre-med and just kept on that track
As a pre-med student, Love Thurman focused
on microbiology, which deals with the structure, function, uses
and modes of existence of microscopic organisms.
"I just kind of thought that it would
be a good background because there's so much infectious disease
and things that people get and learning how those bugs work and
how do we fight them off. I was interested in that."
Since graduating from OU, she attends
the University of Minnesota Medical School because of its Indian
health services. She first attended the Duluth campus, but is now
at the Twin Cities campus. Now in her third year of medical school,
she goes to clinics to rotate through specialties such as pediatrics,
surgery, family medicine and internal medicine.
"It's fun because every six
weeks or so you change and do something different, and you really
get to see all the different things and see where you kind of fit
in medicine," Love Thurman said. "I think everybody kind
of has an idea of what they kind of want to go in to, but so many
people change their minds when they, they think 'Oh, I definitely
want to be a surgeon' then they go through surgery rotation
and think 'Oh no, no, I don't want to do that' after
being on that rotation."
She said rotations helps students decide
what area to focus on. Love Thurman just finished her surgery rotation
and started pediatrics. While she enjoys each rotation, she tries
to keep an open mind on what to focus on.
"I kind of started out thinking that I wanted to do family
medicine and be a family doctor, and I still have that in the back
of my mind, but I'm just trying to keep an open mind just in
case something sparks my interest more," she said.
After medical school, Love Thurman will
pick a residency and undergo further clinical training.
To help pay for school, she has an Indian
Health Services scholarship. When she graduates from medical school
she will be able to work at IHS for four years and pay off her school
debt. When finished, she plans on moving to Tahlequah and starting
a career at W.W. Hastings Hospital.
"I really couldn't see anything
else but Hastings because it's one of the bigger facilities
and I think it's a great facility," she said.
As she winds down her medical school experience,
she encourages others to pursue higher education.
"I just hope that my story could
help someone who's even remotely thinking about medicine that
they can do it because I didn't even think that I could do
it. You just really have to work hard at what it is that you're
wanting to do and you can do it."