6 Questions with Dr. Lawson Montgomery (Class of 2019)
Dr. Lawson Montgomery has come a long way (literally) from the small Kansas town of Bennington to graduating from American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. We sat down with the newly-minted physician for advice on what aspiring undergrads should look for in a medical school, how AUC helped him on the path to achieving his dreams, and where he sees himself in the future.
Did you always know that you wanted to be involved in medicine?
I was lucky that my mother was a family physician and an AUC School of Medicine grad herself (Dr. LaDonna Schmidt, Class of 1990), so growing up I thought it would be awesome to be a doctor like her. Going with her to the office and hanging out in the doctors’ lounge while she saw patients was normal. I also worked as a phlebotomist before medical school and that really solidified my desire to be hands-on and directly involved with patients.
Any advice for undergraduates seeking out the medical school that’s right for them?
Look for schools that you feel will set you up for success, ones with reputations for producing high-quality physicians who match into residency. Matching is key. You’ll want a school that provides a lot of support and resources around the residency matching process and USMLE exams, which are ranked highly as criteria for getting residency interviews. Finally, pick a school where you feel comfortable living, that has culture, and places to eat, and that allows you to relax and unwind. You’ll spend your days and nights studying, so how you spend the small amount of free time you have is important. You’re going to need breaks when the opportunities arise.
Why did you choose American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine?
Well, I was a bit biased since my mother is an AUC graduate! From a young age I knew all about the school and saw firsthand that if you study in the Caribbean you can make a good life for yourself. It wasn’t until I was older that I truly understood how great AUC really is and that they have a history of consistently producing physicians who are eligible to practice in all 50 states.
Did you have a favorite course in medical school?
The anatomy lab at the Sint Maarten campus is fantastic and quite impressive. To me, it’s one of the strongest assets for incoming first year medical students; it sets the foundation for your medical knowledge. Being able to dissect cadavers helps you understand anatomy more deeply than you would if you were just learning from a model or a pre-dissected body. At AUC, you can really immerse yourself with the structures of the human body. If you’re a doctor, you need to know anatomy and you’ll never get a more immersive experience at any other point in your medical school career than during your first semester. I even stayed on as a teaching assistant the following four semesters to keep my anatomy skills sharp for the USMLE Step 1 Exam.
What is life like on Sint Maarten?
The first thing that sticks out is that it’s always 82 and sunny, literally every day. The perfect weather helps so that when you finally break from studying, you know it’ll be a nice day. It’s also very comfortable as far as day-to-day living is concerned. There’s lots of restaurants by the school to grab a quick bite and there is a grocery store just down the road, within walking distance. The perk of Sint Maarten being a popular tourist destination is that the island is very “Americanized” and molded around tourism so you can always find whatever it is that you need.
What are your career hopes for the future?
I’m a first-year resident in the Family Medicine program at the University of Kansas School Medical Center and right now I’m just really looking forward to the endless possibilities in my field. I’m hoping to pursue fellowship opportunities in Sports Medicine or Emergency Medicine once my residency is done.
I have a deep-rooted passion for sports and being the team doctor of a bigtime university or sports team would be a pretty awesome life, but I’ve also always had a love for the acuity for the ER so working in a small town ER may be my calling. Either way, I’m sure it will all work out in the end much like it has by attending AUC. I can’t imagine things turning out better than they have and I am very lucky that this is the life I’m living.
Dr. Lawson Montgomery is currently a family medicine resident at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS.
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