Update: After this article was published, Dr. Hernandez was elected to the position of chief resident for her program. Please join us in congratulating her!
Trinity School of Medicine has always prided itself on the strength and ambition of its students. So many future physicians come our way looking for something new; whether that’s a unique learning environment built on support and a strong relationship with the faculty, a curriculum with an emphasis on clinical skills and service to patients, or just a fresh start. In this next edition of our alumni spotlight, meet Dr. Amy Hernandez, a psychiatry resident.
Dr. Hernandez was a diligent student, interested in medicine from a young age. She excelled in science and math, and looked up to doctors as role models of her community, providing guidance and leadership when it came to health and personal care.
However, in her own words, she “didn’t do too well on the MCAT.” It’s an all-too-common story: the US and Canada is full of students that would make great physicians but the weed-out tactics used by many schools lead to them going overlooked before their application even gets a serious evaluation.
Among the options available to her, “I chose Trinity because I liked the small class size. The faculty to student ratio was very favorable. And, to be honest, since day one of the interview, everyone was so nice. It was a very friendly process and made everything just feel like a good fit.”
Life on the Island
Typically, when Trinity students aren’t in lecture, studying, or doing community outreach, they’re resting and conserving energy. Dr. Hernandez is a bit different. The first clue should have been her undergraduate career: she has a B.S. in applied physiology and kinesiology from the University of Florida.
“I really liked the island. There was a lot to do to keep me sane, keep me busy. It’s how I recharge.” The beach, sport-fishing, running, these were Dr. Hernandez’s tools to succeed at Trinity. “After every major exam, a group of us would pool our resources, we’d rent a sailboat, and go sailing throughout the islands (the Grenadines), as far as Palm Island, Bequia, Mustique, it was a great way to explore and focus on something else between terms.” She always had her mind on the big picture, though. “Getting involved in the culture, meeting people, seeing what they needed motivated me to learn more about medicine.”
Dr. Hernandez’s enthusiasm held through leisure activity and on into the classroom, “I really enjoyed my time at Trinity. I was really close to my classmates. Everyone was very supportive of each other, studying together and apart, we’d grab groceries for each other, we got very close, we’re all still in touch today. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Returning to the United States
A common question we ask in these interviews is how the students felt during their rotations. It’s often considered a test for Caribbean medical students because they’re thrust back into a US clinical setting, usually working with students from other schools.
Dr. Hernandez said she felt, “Mentally prepared for rotations, most of the Caribbean students had a chip on their shoulder, not just from Trinity. We wanted it ‘more,’ and we felt we had something to prove. We worked harder, we stayed longer, we read more, tried to shine more. I think the US students were a little scared of us, to be honest.”
Residency and Beyond
So where is Dr. Hernandez now?
She’s a third-year psychiatry resident back home in Florida. This is an unexpected switch from her exercise physiology past, but ultimately it came from what motivated her in the first place rather than how it manifested. She explains, “It came while I was doing my rotations. I wanted to do sports medicine, and I love anatomy, but in my rotations, I realized it was behavior that I loved. I liked talking to the patients more than any of the anatomical and physiological evaluation procedures in other specialties. I wanted to know what they [the patients] had been through and help however I could at that deeper level.”
Dr. Hernandez was very frank about the challenges she faced in securing a residency. She didn’t match on her first attempt. She was far from giving up, though.
In her own words, “What hurt me early on was I struggled up front with Step-2, which created some difficulty in my interviews. Giving up wasn’t really an option, though. I’m not wired for it. I secured work as a clinical research coordinator (her first work in psychiatry), I got to know other physicians, and learned more about the system itself. It’s really just about being persistent. Securing a residency is like getting into medical school. You don’t stop because you hit a roadblock if it’s what you want to do. You keep trying.”
From her dedication to her energy, her candor, her care for her patients and her drive to aid the community, Trinity School of Medicine couldn’t be more proud of another one of our alums: Dr. Amy Hernandez.