The Terry Foundation

Alumni Spotlight- Brittney Campbell

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can manifest itself in many different ways, depending on the person. Some people with ASD are verbal; some are nonverbal. Some have seizures; some don’t. Some are savantssome are not. Each one of them shares a common diagnosis, but they are all different much like anyone else you might meet. Brittney Campbell (UTD 2012) shares her brother Kendall’s story and what life is like in medical school.

All siblings are special, but Brittney feels a particularly strong bond with Kendall, even though he cannot fully communicate with her. This bond was nurtured through years of accompanying her parents on the journey of autism- doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment. Neurologists, Gastroenterologists, and Psychiatrists are all involved in Kendall’s care plan. Because her deep love of science and this exposure to the medical field from an early age, Brittney thought she wanted to become a doctor- for Kendall and for herself. After all, it was everything she wanted in a career. After shadowing her brother’s Psychiatrist, she knew she wanted to become a doctor.

This shadowing experience confirmed everything for Brittney. At first, the office was hesitant to bring her on board due to confidentiality, especially in a psychiatric practice. She persisted, and her persistence served her well. More often than not, undergraduates face numerous barriers to seeing and experiencing patient care first-hand. Brittney says she did have to “cold call” potential sites, and once they responded, she would provide her university transcripts. The successful attempt eventually did come from that real-life connection to her brother’s psychiatrist, so as she says, sometimes “it’s who you know.” Thanks to an active Terry Alumni network, current scholars can access the TAP List in any field to seek leads and guidance, whether it’s in the medical field or on the stage- Brittney’s two passions in life.

Psychiatry was exciting. Brittney listened to patient stories, and each of them were the lead in their own tale- similar to Brittney’s other passion, theater. During her undergrad, she took several improvisation courses to balance out the heavy science classes. Unfortunately, the demanding schedule of the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) has prevented her from stepping onto the stage recently. However, to her, “The sacrifices are worth it.” Whether through theater or another hobby, it is important to find an outlet to relieve stress. As Brittney says, “Those tests are no joke!” To reflect and to cope with the stress, she recommends that all medical students write about their experiences, especially the good ones. “It’s important to remind yourself that you deserve to be here,” she says.

It isn’t all studying and stress, though. Brittney’s favorite aspect of medical school is learning how to interview patients. Much like a detective, doctors must know which questions to ask to figure out any underlying issues or extenuating circumstances that could affect a patient’s physical or mental health. This skill is that much more important for Brittney, who is on the road to becoming a psychiatrist and is now in her second year of medical school. Class is in session; good luck to all of our current medical students!

To learn more about autism and how you can help, visit the website of the advocacy organization, Autism Speaks.