Whitney Clearwater has always had a passion for helping underserved populations. She is now in her fourth year of medical school, but she's already made impressive contributions toward improving the lives of others, and she's getting closer to achieving her dream of becoming a family physician.
Whitney knew from an early age that she wanted to improve people's lives. Raised by a single mother, she was motivated to help underserved communities after seeing them first-hand. After majoring in biology at the University of Kansas, she traveled to California to get her Masters in Public Health, but it wasn't quite what she was looking for.
"I didn't like looking at people as statistics," she says. "I'm interested in a little bit of everything; research and clinical work, community development, education. Everything is a possibility right now."
Returning to Kansas to attend medical school proved to be a perfect fit for her interests, and Family Medicine soon became her top choice of specialties. "I've had really great family medicine mentors, and I've been involved in different programs that I really enjoy."
One such program is the BullDoc clinic, based out of Wyandotte High School. High school students visit the free clinic and are diagnosed and treated by medical students like Whitney. The students then consult with KUMC physicians such as Dr. Allen Greiner, who helped get the clinic running. Like the JayDoc safety net clinic, (now in its 10th year,) the BullDoc clinic provides medical aid to patients who might not otherwise receive it, as well as providing medical students with valuable clinical experience.
Whitney also got first-hand experience when she was awarded the Clendening Fellowship by the History of Philosophy of Medicine. The fellowship allows students to create their own project, and Whitney immediately knew that she wanted to involve women's health in some way. She traveled to Africa, where she spent one month in a public OBGYN hospital observing operations and interviewing patients and staff.
"I went in with these grand plans," she says. "But I ended up learning more than I ever could have expected. It was an amazing experience."
Now in her final year of medical school, Whitney is at a very interesting place in her education.
"I'm seeing both worlds," she says. "I've had more experience being the patient, so I want to hold onto that feeling. I don't want to forget how vulnerable you are with your physician. It's a big responsibility."