WBU graduates testify to preparation received for medical programs

PLAINVIEW – Dr. Adam Reinhart and Dr. Vaughn Ross are on a mission. Though the two interact daily with students in Wayland Baptist University’s science department who dream of careers as doctors, therapists and physician’s assistants, the myth that small schools like Wayland cannot prepare students for these careers or the rigorous graduate education facing them still exists.

Ross, professor of biological sciences and chairman of the Division of Mathematics and Sciences, said the opposite is true. In fact, Wayland currently has six graduates in medical schools, and that doesn’t count those who are studying for other health careers like nursing, pharmacy, physician’s assistant, physical therapy and others.

Debunking the myth has been an important part of Reinhart’s job as well. As associate professor of science and pre-health coordinator, he’s busy setting the record straight about Wayland’s ability to train students in these careers.

“The Pre-Health Program at Wayland is a very intentional program designed to give students every opportunity to build into themselves the qualities, skills and knowledge to excel in health professional programs,” Reinhart said.

“Admission into medical school or other professional programs is a very competitive process involving a number of selection factors. To be successful, students must make themselves stand out from the crowd,” he said, adding that Wayland’s faculty are deliberate in their efforts to make sure students stand out during the application process. 

But Reinhart knows that the stories of former students and their current successes speak much louder than he can. What follows are stories about three graduates who found success in professional schools and give WBU some of the credit.

Blevins felt Wayland prepared him well

In John Blevins' opinion, Wayland Baptist University was a perfect choice for his career goal of medical missions.

"Wayland was the only Baptist university in the state that would let me do what I wanted, which was to be involved in music, study science and religion," said Blevins, a 1999 WBU graduate who is now a third-year medical student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Though the medical field was his primary career choice, Blevins felt the religious education was equally important to his calling. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree, double majoring in biology and religion and minoring in chemistry. Immediately, he enrolled in Wayland's Master of Arts in religion program and earned that degree two years later.

The next day, Blevins moved to Galveston to begin coursework toward his medical degree. Planning to graduate in May 2007, Blevins will then have several years of residency. He is considering specializations in endocrinology, nephrology or cardiology, and would like to do medical missions work in either the Rio Grande Valley or in Central America.

Blevins takes issue with rumors that smaller schools like Wayland may not prepare students for continued medical study. In fact, he feels like he had the advantage in medical school.

"Wayland taught me how to study on my own, which is a lot of what medical school is about," he said. "I learned how to ask the right questions on my own and study the material.

"I felt I was better prepared for the type of work that's being done, hands down. I was used to the work load and learning and applying the information rather than just regurgitating."

Blevins credits Wayland's science faculty with having a major role in his success not only in the undergraduate realm but in his current medical studies.

"I preferred the smaller school where I had more intimate relationships with the faculty. I think all the professors had my interests at heart, not theirs. They made sure I was taking the courses that would really help me," he said. "I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get an education at Wayland. It has really shaped who I am, and I worked with some great professors there."

Physical therapy training easier after WBU experience

Miranda Turner Harvey did not initially choose the medical field, fearing the schooling might be too hard. But after her boyfriend suffered major injuries in a car wreck her sophomore year and she had exposure to his rehabilitation efforts, she changed her major to pre-medicine and decided to pursue physical therapy.

Five years later, Harvey is now a physical therapist at Seminole Memorial Hospital, earning her Bachelor of Science from WBU in 2003 and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene in December 2005.

Though she admits her graduate work was challenging, Harvey said the work was much easier than she expected thanks to her professors at Wayland.

"The testing was a breeze thanks to Dr. (Vaughn) Ross," she said. "The best thing they did at Wayland was beat into your head that if you're serious about this, then learn the material now and dig into it."

Harvey said that perseverance has helped her in the graduate realm as well, especially in terms of study skills.

"One of my favorite classes was the parasitology class, because Dr. Ross taught us to think critically through the process of how diseases begin," she said. "Until you learn how to do that, graduate school is not going to happen easily."

Harvey said she also enjoyed the expertise that Ross brought to the classroom from having worked in the medical mission field. And while she did originally fear she might not be prepared for graduate level medical training, she actually felt better prepared in some areas, including anatomy.

"I felt better prepared than most of my class. And I got a 100 on both my lab test and the written test," she said. "I knew what questions to ask because of how Dr. Ross taught his anatomy class at Wayland."

Harvey said she knows she's in the right place because of several experiences with patients, even at her short time in Seminole. A few stood out, including one woman who needed only four visits with Miranda using manual therapy in order to be totally healed from neck injury and a stroke victim who has been a longtime project.

"When she came to us she could not do anything, and we've been able to get her to move around on her own and function again," she said. "She told me, 'Now I have the will to live' and that really chokes you up but it makes you feel good."

Harvey said in the future she may pursue additional education in athletic training and in manual therapy, wanting to be well versed in all areas of therapy and be able to make a difference for people.

WBU encouraged Godino in pursuit of pharmacy degree

A light bulb led Dr. Marcelino "Junior" Godino to a career in pharmacy, though he never would have dreamed it would happen.

"I was working at Kmart as a stocker while in high school, and one day I went to change a light bulb in the pharmacy," he recalls. "The atmosphere there was so calm and the people were so nice. The pharmacist there said I should consider going to pharmacy school."

After graduating from Plainview High, Godino went to work at Kmart as a pharmacy technician, figuring the job was as close as he'd get. His supervisor had other ideas, and she not only encouraged him to pursue pharmacy but took him to Wayland to enroll. He began attending classes full-time and working full-time.

He earned his bachelor's degree in 1999, then was accepted to the Texas Tech School of Pharmacy in Amarillo. For two years, he attended classes in Amarillo, then spent two years in Lubbock doing rotations.

He earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree in December 2003 and became licensed in 2004.

Today, Godino is pharmacist in charge at Pinnell Medical Center Pharmacy in Plainview. He said he regularly draws on the skills and knowledge learned at Wayland and appreciates the professors there who encouraged him on his way.

"They really give you the one-on-one help and interaction you need. If you didn't understand something, you could always go ask and learn more. The professors were good to make sure you learned everything well," he said.

"They kept on encouraging me and sent letters of recommendation for me. They knew what I really wanted to do."