AHEC Scholars Spotlight: Claudia Waters

Claudia WatersAHEC Scholar Claudia Waters is a 4th year medical student at The Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine at Western Michigan University. Claudia recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her experience as a medical student and an AHEC Scholar.

When did you know you wanted to pursue medicine as a career? Do you know what field you want to specialize in yet?

Medicine has always been my dream. Since I was young, I knew I needed to pursue a lifetime of curiosity, selflessness, and academic rigor. Medicine has fulfilled each of these goals and also challenged me to grow in areas I did not expect. Now that I am in my fourth year of medical school, I have decided to pursue Internal Medicine as a specialty. This area of medicine focuses largely on diagnosis and clinical skill while providing a comfortable balance between inpatient and outpatient training. Once I complete residency, I hope to settle at a rural Midwest community hospital where I can serve patients who are also my friends and neighbors.

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to undergrad and what was your major?

I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, an area nestled into the Fox Valley on the northeastern side of the state. I love my home state, so I decided to complete my undergraduate degree within the University of Wisconsin system at UW – Eau Claire. At UWEC, I majored in Biochemistry/ Molecular Biology with a large emphasis on pre-medicine courses as well as biochemical research. These years gave me excellent exposure to basic science research and further confirmed my decision to pursue medicine as a career.

How did you hear about the AHEC Scholars Program?

WMed told us students about the AHEC Scholars program, and I pursued it as a way to equip myself to work with underserved populations. Rural medicine is my passion, and these patients can face barriers to healthcare that are not experienced in more populated areas. Learning to develop interprofessional approaches to healthcare barriers will be a skill that serves me well throughout my career as a physician.

Can you please speak to your experience with AHEC Scholars—how has the experience been for you?

I have most enjoyed getting to know the other participants in my AHEC Scholars cohort. It has been interesting to hear the perspectives and considerations of students in pharmacy, social work, and nursing. I feel that I have gained a better understanding of how they are trained and the resources they have to offer to patients as well as health care providers.