Three Medical Students

By Linda Weiford, WSU News

Nick Randall, Ashlyn Jimenez and Erik Stiles recently wrapped up their first year at WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. With the most academically rigorous year of a lifetime behind them, they’re starting the only real summer break they’ll get during medical school.

Even so, they won’t be turning off their brains, watching Netflix or vegging at the beach — nor will their 57 colleagues, all of whom make up the medical school’s inaugural class of students.

“The students’ first year? I’d say it was tough, amazing and gratifying,” said Daniel Teraguchi, associate dean for student affairs. “Completing it is a first big milestone on their road to becoming doctors,” he said.

Summer break traditionally takes place between the first and second year of medical school. After that, coursework and labs, and eventually full-time clinical training go on pretty much year-round, he explained.

“Most students are taking a short breather – two have weddings planned – before launching into health care-related projects, research or volunteer work,” he added.

Medicine on wheels, new baby and summer camp

Ashlyn Jimenez likened her first year of medical school to taking sips from a firehose of information without drowning. Nonetheless, “I’ve never been happier,” she said.

Jimenez is spending the summer assisting with the creation of the university’s mobile health clinic, expected to start running this fall. Medical students will work with health care specialists to aid underserved populations in Spokane County.

“Our first priority is completing a needs assessment that will allow us to understand what the people of Spokane feel their gaps in care are,” she said. “We are working with nonprofits, schools, government employees and health care institutions to identify the needs that a mobile clinic could address.”

“A blur,” is how Nick Randall described his first year of medical school. “While it was very difficult and busy, it was also a very good time,” he said.

Heavy coursework aside, he faced another, yet joyful challenge when his wife gave birth to their first child in early March.

“I’ve gotten pretty good at studying with a baby on my chest,” he said.

This summer, Randall, who is fluent in Spanish, is working with the Tri-Cities campus to develop a medical Spanish curriculum.

“This course will help all health care providers learn conversational and medical Spanish so that they can more effectively connect with their Hispanic patients,” he explained.

A good thing, too, since Franklin County’s population is more than 50 percent Hispanic, according to the most recent U.S. Census bureau data.

Erik Stiles graduated from WSU’s College of Nursing and worked as a nurse for more than four years before entering medical school last August.

“This last year, we burned the candle at both ends, but I don’t know that I would take it any other way,” he said. “It has been fantastic.”

Stiles is spending part of his summer working at Camp STIX, a medically-supervised sports camp for children and teens with diabetes. This will be his ninth season at the camp, located along the Pend Oreille River.

“Not only is participating in camp an excellent way to learn about diabetes, but it’s an empowering experience for the kids,” he said. “At camp in particular, they are able to take charge of their diabetes, and show staff just how resilient they are as they teach us what it’s like to live with a chronic disease.”