Master of Science in Cell Systems and Anatomy student Shalea Francois became an in-home care provider four years ago after seeing her mother and other patients struggle with end stage renal disease.
“I drive my mom to treatment, help her with dialysis and through all these experiences and meeting other patients…I’ve seen the frustration that people have from sitting in waiting areas at the doctor’s office, from standing in line at the pharmacy and various medical settings,” she said.
After shadowing different clinicians, Francois decided that she would like to become a physician assistant.
“It’s hard to have motivation when I am studying all the time, but the emotion I feel when next to someone on a sick bed motivates me to continue with my career goals,” she said.
“It’s nice to be at the health science center because I feel like everyone is here for the same thing—-science, medicine, and helping people,” she said.
“Learning anatomy is really important because you are able to understand any deviation from the norm,” she said. “I think Anatomy is the foundation of learning medicine, without a solid base in anatomy as a physician or clinician you would be lost.”
Currently Francois is a first year student in her second semester. Her favorite class is the Gross Anatomy Lab.
“I didn’t think it was so intense, I took undergraduate anatomy and it’s nothing like that. Studying gross anatomy is nothing like studying the structures in a book. It puts in perspective how big or how small certain organs and structures are and how there can be variation among these structures,” she said. “I’m really in awe and humbled every time I go into the gross anatomy lab.”
In addition to school and her role as an in-home care provider, she also works in the Department of Pharmacology as a work study student.
“I know I’ll be taking a pharmacology course in the future so it’s helping me to familiarize myself with the current research in the field.”
Francois is also part of the Interprofessional Leadership Scholars Program, a program organized by the Office of Student Life to encourage inter-professional engagement.
“It was a great experience that will leave a valuable impression on me for the future on how to work with people from different professions—whether you are a nurse or a doctor; teamwork in science, medicine, and in health care is important.”
This article was written by Charlotte Anthony, marketing specialist at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio. This article is part of the “Meet The Researcher” series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.