CHASING HER DREAM
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MELISSA DAVIES | Student | Fayetteville, N.C.
Undergrad: Campbell University (’10)
BY CHERRY CRAYTON, PHOTO BY BRYAN REAGAN
In 2011, Michael Davies (’08) received an issue of Campbell Magazine in the mail that featured an article about Campbell University’s plans to open a School of Osteopathic Medicine. The article included an explanation of osteopathic medicine, which sent him running to his wife, Melissa Stout Davies (’10).
“Read this!” Michael said to Melissa. “This seems right up your alley.”
About a dozen years earlier, somewhere around the age of 10, Melissa had decided she wanted to be a doctor. It started with “The Cosby Show.” She grew up watching the sitcom and was fascinated by the character that actor and comedian Bill Cosby played: Dr. Cliff Huxtable, an obstetrician. Melissa pictured herself delivering babies, too. “I wanted to help people,” she says.
After graduating from Fayetteville’s Pine Forest High School, where she met her husband, Melissa attended Campbell. She liked the small size, the emphasis on faith, and the strong programs in the sciences. She was a biology major and planned to enter medical school immediately after finishing her undergraduate degree. She applied to M.D. programs, but things didn’t work out.
So she took a job with a medical office in Erwin, N.C., and studied to improve her MCAT scores. She helped the medical office move to electronic record keeping and measured patients’ weight and checked their blood pressure. In time she was trained to do EKGs, draw blood, and communicate with pharmacies. She loved the work, and it kept afloat her desire to be an OBGYN or a primary care physician.
It was about a year into the job when her husband encouraged her to read the article about Campbell’s new medical school. Melissa was familiar with osteopathic medicine, and she still planned to attend medical school, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to wait a couple more years for Campbell’s to open. She talked with several of her former professors for advice, researched more about osteopathic medicine, and shadowed a radiologist with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.
The more she saw and heard, the more she became convinced that osteopathic medicine was the right fit for her and waiting for Campbell’s school in the profession to open was worth the wait. “Maybe things didn’t work out initially because I had this opportunity waiting for me here,” she says.
She was drawn to the focus on preventive medicine and the holistic approach to working with patients. “One of the things I love about osteopathic medicine is the recognition that taking medicine is not always going to solve the problem,” she says.
Osteopathic medicine, she adds, fell exactly in line with the kind of doctor she hoped to be—one that’s emphatic, a good listener, and communicates well with her patients and that serves others much like her mother, Jung Stout, does.
When Melissa was growing up in Fayetteville, Stout’s mother lived with her and her parents. Her grandmother had suffered several strokes and needed constant care. Stout provided it. Stout’s mother died during Melissa’s freshman year at Campbell, and three years later, when Melissa was a senior, her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her mother took care of him, too, until he died shortly after Melissa graduated in May 2010. “Seeing how my mother took care of her mother and my father set the example of how I want to be as a doctor,” she says.
Last October, a couple of months after being accepted into Campbell’s School of Osteopathic Medcine, Melissa learned she was pregnant with her first child. Her due date was June 15, about six weeks before her first medical school classes were set to begin.
When she shared the news with family and friends, a few questioned her: Starting medical school is a big transition, and the work can be intensive, so doing that, while caring for a newborn? Do you really still plan to attend medical school?
It’s true that the pregnancy wasn’t part of the plan at this point in her life, Melissa told them, but becoming a doctor was her dream. “So I’m going with it,” she said, “and it’s going to be worth it.”