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Parents helped inspire Chickasaw medical student's health care career choice

Megan Corn believes more Native American physicians important to the country


January 6, 2021

Chickasaw citizen Megan Corn has big aspirations for her medical career.

A first year medical student, she is making impressive strides to pursue her dream of enhancing the quality of health care Native Americans and rural communities receive.

Ms. Corn's parents are both physicians. She was greatly inspired by their efforts in health care. "From a young age I've had some exposure to health care," she said. "Seeing that growing up really inspired me to pursue medicine, so that was kind of a cool experience. As I've gotten older I've tried to carve my own path and find my own way to medicine."

Ms. Corn, 24, is the daughter of Todd and Ayumi Corn, and sister of Deric Todd and Alec Todd. Originally from Oklahoma City, Ms. Corn and her family moved to Washington state prior to her freshman year of high school. Upon graduation from high school, Ms. Corn attended California Polytechnic State University at San Luas Obispo, Calif.

At Cal Poly, she majored in biology, with a concentration in anatomy and physiology. She minored in biotechnology and Spanish.

She engaged in several research projects at Cal Poly, and Washington State University during her summer breaks. This experience helped further her knowledge in areas of biology, climate science and epigenetics.

As a premed student, Ms. Corn knew the preparation of applying to medical school would require a lot of work. Some of her fellow premed classmates, she said, applied to as many as 25 different schools. But Ms. Corn was selective regarding where she wanted to attend med school. She applied to nine schools and interviewed at four. She was accepted to the University of North Dakota (UND) in January 2019.

Specifically, Ms. Corn was accepted to UND through the Indians into Medicine (INMED) Program.

INMED assists American Indian students in becoming health professionals to meet the needs of tribal communities.

"When I went and interviewed it was such a cool experience to interview with 20 other Native Americans who all wanted to attend medical school," Ms. Corn said.

Contributing to Native American representation in medicine is an aspect Ms. Corn believes strongly in.

"I think that it's a great opportunity to try and inspire more Native Americans to go into medicine to get more representation," Ms. Corn said. "If you have representation in the leaders and physicians in the community, you're going to have more representation among health care. Eventually it will lead to equal access and better care for all Native cultures."

She credits the Chickasaw Nation for supporting her educational journey. The tribe's support has significantly improved her ability to continue pursuing her goals.

"It really inspires me and my pursuit and knowing that I come from strong people and that we are a community that I can fall back on if I need to," Ms. Corn said. "It's such a great tribe and part of my motivation as well, in addition to my parents."

Since starting her first semester, Ms. Corn has been elected the president of her freshman medical class of 70 students.

Leading up to the election, she decided she didn't want to run for the position. Her classmates thought otherwise and nominated her.

The initial nomination was followed by several other students seconding the nomination.

"It felt really great to know that I had that support from my classmates who wanted me to be the president and then to actually win it, it was an awesome moment," Ms. Corn said.

Ms. Corn's med school curriculum is divided into four blocks throughout the year. Each block focuses on different subjects.

"The first block we completed was on biochemistry, cell bio, some anatomy of the upper limb, and some immunology," she said. "Now we'll start moving into the systems, so, cardiorespiratory, kidney, renal, GI, and we finish the year in neurology."

As class president, Ms. Corn is tasked with several responsibilities on top of her studies.

Each week her class studies a new patient's case and his or her disease. Part of her duty is to conduct outreach to the patient, introduce them to the med school and write thank you letters when his or her case is complete.

She attends five or more meetings weekly to go over the curriculum, faculty and student satisfaction and to shed her insight on how UND can work to improve their medical school. She also serves on UND's medical accreditation board.

Medical school has provided Ms. Corn with an abundance of opportunities – serving as a leader among her peers is one that has proved to be particularly rewarding.

"It's a lot of responsibility that I'm ready to take on," she said. "It's just a great experience to be able to get to hear everyone's voice and then project that into the community and to our faculty, and also getting to know my classmates better as well as upperclassmen."

Although Ms. Corn has years of schooling ahead, she's enjoying the journey of learning. She is already leaning towards two particular fields.

"I really want to go into obstetrics and gynecology," she said. "I feel that's the best specialty because you can act as an educator for sexual health and mental health and be a supporting physician in a rural community for all aspects of medicine."

Ms. Corn has a projected completion date of medical school in 2024.


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