Raised in a Latin American household, Sara Maria Jensen broke molds. She showed the world her unwillingness to take no for an answer from an early age. It's this steadfast determination that will continue to serve Sara Maria well as a future physician, and as she gears up to begin her 4th year as a medical student at Trinity School of Medicine. Trinity students exhibit a level of drive and commitment that can’t be ignored. Recently, Sara Maria became the top choice for the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), serving as the organization's Reproductive Health Fellow. This distinguished role allows Jensen to share her passion and raise awareness for women's reproductive health.
From Missouri to St. Vincent
At just 16, Sara Maria enrolled in college. Her tenacious approach has helped her overcome personal challenges and continues to drive her focus on the hope of healing others.
"Learning about science is very different from learning about medicine," explains Jensen, who earned a bachelor's degree in general biology from Northwest Missouri State and a master's degree in reproductive physiology from the University of Central Missouri. "I learned a lot," says Jensen, "but it didn't help with medical school. There's a professional aspect, but the academics didn't prepare me to think like a physician. It allowed me to grow and gain more knowledge, which ultimately led me to have more of an appetite for medical school." she adds.
So, how did Sara Maria land a seat at Trinity? It took a lot of work and took filling out and applying to over 100 medical schools. Jensen says she applied to both M.D. and D.O. programs and that she "wanted to cast a wide net. I got secondary applications back, but most medical schools only have a small box of applicants of who they take." In fact, U.S. medical schools reject 60% of their applicants. Once a dialog had been established with Trinity, it wasn’t long before Jensen found herself with an interview scheduled. She remembers all of the details well. She went and bought a new suit for the occasion, got her mom to ride along, and they were bound for St. Louis.
On the day of her interview, she met with Trinity's now provost and dean, Dr. Purcell. The meeting went well. After Sara Maria’s interview, Dr. Purcell took the time to also meet with Sara Maria's mother. Dr. Purcell wanted to meet Sara Maria's mom and wanted her to feel confident and comfortable with the entire experience. At Trinity we are all family. Dr. Purcell explained the opportunities and outcomes they could expect from Trinity and that International Medical Graduates (IMGs) are very successful. Sara Maria came out of the interview feeling like she could be an asset and a great fit at Trinity.
When asked what were some of the things she liked most about her time studying on St. Vincent, Sara Maria explained, "There are many pros when it comes to attending Trinity, Trinity has support staff to help you along the way. It's a smaller school, and that's a good thing. If you have an idea, once you've pitched your idea, it's typically supported by the administration. The bigger the school, the bigger the hoops you've got to jump, and at Trinity, that isn't the case. You are allowed and encouraged to do so many things that help you develop as a person and as a student. She says, "where is the need? I always tried to figure out where the need was while I was a student on the island at Trinity." The mission at Trinity is to train and instill a passion for service to the health and welfare of the communities our graduates will live in and serve.
For example, while she was on St. Vincent, she started a professionalism club. She spent her free time visiting local colleges on the island to help other students create resumes and held review sessions. She got to know these students and even organized a local photographer willing to volunteer their services for professional head-shots for the students.
Sara Maria has a refreshing approach when it comes to life. Jensen's not afraid to break barriers, emphasizing the importance of being open-minded to learning new things, and never having any expectation of "what's in this for me." So how did Trinity help prepare this soon-to-be doctor to be a top-notch medical professional?
Trinity offers her the skills and opportunities to be more than merely successful. She has immersed herself in every aspect of community service available; this is genuinely a Trinity advantage. As a result, Sara Maria says Trinity afforded her an abundance of networking opportunities while teaching her and her classmate's presentation techniques that are unique and meaningful. She also reinforces the notion that Trinity allows students to gain early clinical experience, beginning in the first term. Sara Maria says Trinity's access to early clinical experience allowed her to witness firsthand situations. She also points out that if you attend a United States medical school, you won't get this type of medical student experience. Everything in the U.S. may be provided to their students, but this type of clinical experience is not.
In contrast, Trinity students are afforded the opportunity to learn and engage with patients in an active hospital setting. "You get taught to practice medicine and not just how to pass an exam. You'll learn a lot of techniques that aren't even on an exam," she adds.
After completing her fellowship with AMSA, Sara Maria will be entering her 4th and final year of medical school in September. Without a doubt, Jensen's drive and dedication to being a compassionate medical professional will continue to serve her well. Jensen is on a mission to always seek out what is best for patients while also staying ahead of best practices in medicine. Trinity School of Medicine is proud to have stand-out-students such as Sara Maria. We know she will continue to succeed and excel as she pursues her journey into Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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