ElevateMed selects OSU medical student for scholar program
Friday, June 25, 2021
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Growing up medicine and science were always of interest to Holly Flores, but she didn’t seriously consider it as a career until much later.
“As a kid I loved science, I loved learning about science, and I saw physicians as superheroes. As I’ve grown my understanding of what it means to be a physician has obviously matured but it only strengthened my desire to be one,” said Flores, a medical student at OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Going to college I didn’t believe in myself enough to go pre-med.”
Flores, who is Mexican American, attended Texas A&M and first studied dance science and then switched to biology.
After college she worked doing research and development tax credit consulting and then process improvement at Baylor College of Medicine.
“I learned a lot about communication and ownership, things you aren’t really taught in a classroom. One of the biggest takeaways for me was learning how to be an advocate for my clients,” Flores said. “It really empowered me when I applied to medical school, even as a non-traditional student, because it’s not so different than what a physician does— advocate for their patients. All those things strengthened my desire to become a physician.”
Her father was in the U.S. Navy so her family moved around a lot when she was growing up.
“I’ve lived in California, different cities in Oklahoma, mostly Houston, but I lived in Tulsa when I was in elementary school. I have some family here so I took a chance applying to OSU-COM,” she said.
“I was lucky enough to get an interview and I just fell in love with OSU on my interview day because it was personalized, and it was so different than some of the other interviews I had had. I could tell the culture felt familiar, it felt like a family to me.”
Now a third-year medical student, Flores is one of only 10 medical students in the country selected for the 2021 ElevateMeD Scholar program, which aims to develop talented medical students from underrepresented backgrounds into the next generation of physician leaders.
Being named an ElevateMeD scholar is a huge honor, Flores said, and something she wasn’t expecting. The scholar program provides a $10,000 scholarship each year for the remainder of medical school, as well as other resources such as leadership training, mentoring and debt management education.
“It means that my story spoke to someone and connected with someone. I will be the first Dr. Flores in my family,” she said, and while it’s exciting, it also comes with challenges. “Becoming a physician is a long journey, it’s a big financial commitment and it’s very difficult.”
Flores said the scholar program will give her a little more financial freedom that she wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“The scholarship will be very helpful. It will mean being able to afford things like traveling to my residency interviews and paying for board exams,” she said. “Students eat the cost of these things and they’re difficult to budget for with our existing student loans. This scholarship is very helpful to me in managing how I’m going to pay for all that.”
Flores is also proud to be a part of the scholar program because of ElevateMeD’s mission of elevating medical students from underrepresented backgrounds.
“There are big differences. The debt ratio for underrepresented minorities is not the same as their counterparts. Access to things like mentors is not the same, and the financial commitment itself is one of the biggest reasons qualified premeds and potential future doctors ultimately decide not to pursue medicine,” she said. “That can have very important downstream effects because we know diversifying the physician workforce is important for patient communication, even health outcomes in clinical medicine. This scholar program is wonderful because it takes important steps in addressing those disparities.”