Our program thrives on feedback from graduates, unsolicited comments that help us shape and improve our program. It is one of two things we ask of every BIMS graduate: stay in touch and let us know what we are doing well and where we need change. The other thing we ask is for them to be successful and change the world.
So it is not a surprise that we have heard back from a student who is in his first year of medical school. He provided his topic list for the first week or so of medical school, with a comment that a week of medical school includes a semester of biochemistry. That, and the emphasis on metabolism and physiology, are signals to us to be sure our pre-med students are advised into particular courses and that our required courses emphasize important topics. We want our students to be successful and prepared. So every comment from alums is considered valuable to that end.
Next week, I will be giving the welcome for the faculty to the students of McMurry at our Fall Convocation. The key point I will make is that faculty are not the enemy – we are the allies who work with students to achieve success. The enemies are laziness, distraction, and lack of discipline that cause students to lose their focus on what is important to their future. They need to devote everything within them to growth of body, mind, and spirit during their four years of college. We, the faculty, are devoting our efforts to help this happen; they need to do their part as well.
Faculty are in an unusual position of giving away to students everything they have learned in order to allow their students to achieve greater things than they thought possible. It is an unselfish and totally satisfying career. But I digress… :) Suffice it to say that this week’s feedback from our med student alum is rewarding – a student says “thanks” and moves forward to achieve his dream. Our program learns valuable information that can be applied to give others that same advantage in professional school. And the sweet rewards of being a college faculty member are realized.
We’re now about a fourth of the way through the semester, and I thought I’d give an update of what’s going on in our BIMS courses and program.
BIMS 1300. Intro to Scientific Research. Dr. Benoit has students looking at contemporary issues in science and explaining the science and processes and research to students in the class via formal presentations. Ever wonder what they’re talking about with stem cells, how DNA fingerprinting is done, how ethical breaches impact biomedical research? Stop by and you just might find your answers!
BIOL 1301. Unicellular Organisms. Dr. Benoit has had the unfortunate luck over the past few years of seeing every book chosen for this course taken out of print. He’s decided to take things into his own hands and has go with a custom published book that draws only the chapters central to his course from a larger textbook. The course is taking a decided cell anatomy and physiology focus to help prepare students for their sophomore level classes.
BIOL 3410. Microbiology. Dr. Wilson has his students screening fresh vegetables for E. coli and other enteric organisms. Next up will be their screening of the campus population for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Real science here conducted by lots of sophomores and juniors from Biology, Nursing, Biochemistry, and Biomedical Science majors.
BIOL 3460. Genetics. Dr. DiFrancesca will be missing class in mid-October to attend the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in San Diego. By then, the students will have isolated their own DNA and will be in the midst of PCR and analysis. While she’s gone, the students will have a guest lecture by Dr. Jon Weidanz of the Texas Tech School of Pharmacy in Abilene (and the founder of the biotech firm Receptor Logic) discussing the genetics of biotech research. Amazing things going on in here!
BIOL 4320. Molecular Cell Biology. Students are getting a great foundation in the fundamentals of molecular structure and control of eukaryotic cells. This course represents the content capstone for BIMS juniors, where knowledge from previous semesters is integrated into a full understanding of how cells work. Dr. DiFrancesca has got it going on in here!
BIMS 4120. Molecular Cell Biology Lab. Here, Dr. DiFrancesca builds on skills learned in Genetics the year before to provide a deep experience in molecular biology techniques. Students have not begun working with cancer cells yet but will embark on that journey before much longer. Imagine the conversation around the dinner table at Thanksgiving – “Sonny, what are you doing in your classes at McMurry?” “Well, grandma, we’re studying and trying to find cures for breast cancer.” Is that the type of thing you’d hear from average students from average schools?
So, its business as usual in the BIMS courses, all geared toward giving students real experience solving real problems. When you compare this approach to education to those from other colleges and universities, you see very quickly that we take a different approach and give our students a different experience because the futures of our students depend on doing so.
Although the BIMS program is too new to have any graduates, there are MANY McMurry Biology graduates who have gone to graduate and professional programs aligned with biomedical science. Each summer, I send out an update on what’s happening at McMurry to my former students. I always ask them to “check in” and let me know what they are doing. Here’s some of the responses I got this summer.
- Dr. Andrew Hockert completed his doctorate in Cell Biology & Biochemistry at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (TTUHSC-GSBS) and now is teaching molecular biology and biochemistry at Cumberland University.
- Dr. Abby Crume received her D.O. from UNT-TCOM and is in a surgical residency in Maine.
- Dr. Gena Jester Nichols completed her doctorate in Immunology from Wake Forest and is in a post-doctoral position at Tulane.
- Kira Chumbley completed her masters in Medical Microbiology from TTUHSC-GSBS and works as a Senior Research Technician the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and teaches microbiology at a community college for fun.
- Dr. Yancey Natividad completed his Doctor of Pharmacy degree at UNM.
- Sheena Banks continues in the PhD program in Immunology at UTMB, where operations were severely interrupted by Hurricane Ike last fall.
- Jessica Crawford is a third year medical student at UTMB.
- Dr. Cari Roark Sloma, who completed her degree in Medical Immunology from Mayo Graduate School of Biomedical Science is now on the faculty at Ross University School of Medicine on the island of Dominica.
- Stephanie Coffey is in her fourth year at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M.
- Dr. Asha Kurian is an internal medicine resident/endocrinology resident in Arizona.
- Dr. Clipper Strickland has returned to Abilene to establish is practice after graduating from UH-College of Optometry.
- Dr. Kendra DeBerry has graduated from UPenn School of Optometry and is practicing in Ft. Worth.
- Drew Hillhouse should be nearing completion of his PhD in Medical Microbiology from UMizzou-Columbia.
- Dr. Stacy Beaty completed his MD at UT-Houston School of Medicine and has joined the Shannon Clinic in San Angelo.
- Dr. Sam Nixon completed his DPT degree from Hardin-Simmons and is in private practice.
These are just a sampling of the reports we get from our students. Each is a success story. Each is a student who came to McMurry with dreams and worked hard to make those dreams come true. I hope the incoming freshmen this fall will be featured in a report like this 5, 6, or 7 years from now.