Meredith Herman: Make discoveries
Nov. 9, 2016
My enthusiasm for medicine and research developed during my education in the Biomedical Laboratory Science program. As I grew my interest I found many opportunities to become more involved. I found on-campus work through the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, volunteered to raise funds for the Muscle Dystrophy Association day camps for kids and sought medical experiences abroad. I gained perspective on difficult diseases and built the confidence to take on a tough research project.
Working as a clinical assistant in the Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology at the MSU Clinical Center has allowed me to interact with patients and observe physicians tackle complex cases. Each medical history presents a new story, a different puzzle, and a unique solution. Compassion for patients facing debilitating diseases inspirited me to be a part of the cure.
Doing research with Amit Sachdev, neurologist and the director of the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine in the Department of Neurology, granted me the opportunity to step into the shoes of a physician-scientist to correlate clinical data to pathology and make a unique discovery. In the case of focalized pain and numbness, there are several plausible causes. This research showed how a thorough medical history, physical examination, EMG and MRI can assess the function and structure of the bones and nerves in idiopathic neuropathy. This avoids improper diagnosis and greatly improves patient outcomes, especially when finding treatment for symptoms of pain.
I am fortunate that the original abstract “Neuropathic distal foot pain as an atypical presentation of a treatable plantar plate tear” was accepted to be presented in the poster symposium at the Michigan State Medical Society Annual Scientific Conference. Being the only undergraduate among 20 other medical students across the state was a remarkable experience. Moreover, presenting to a panel of judges, who are also physicians, can be intimidating. Going into the presentation, I was the expert on the topic and was tasked to educate viewers on this subject. The positive feedback and intellectual discussion about the research was enlightening.
Solving the puzzle to improve the quality of someone’s life motivates me to be a physician-scientist and contribute to the infinitely expanding medical knowledge and serve patient populations battling the disease. Even more, the teamwork with brilliant physicians from various specialties taught me that I enjoy working with people who are also passionate and research minded. After graduation I plan become more involved in clinical research, and continue lifelong learning as a physician to improve treatment for future patients.
I encourage students to take every opportunity to get involved in research (even if it is not medically related), study abroad, or honors options. Take advantage of resources on campus to get connected to research projects or programs that will boost your mastery of classroom material in the real world – it may lead you to uncover a different field that interests you. Go ahead, ask questions and make discoveries!