Baine Herrera

Baine HerreraBaine Herrera, a second-year medical student at the UTRGV School of Medicine, graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology.  At UT Austin, he helped investigate new techniques in cancer cell detection. Before applying for medical school, Herrera worked for Houston Methodist Hospital and Legacy Community Health—one of Texas’s largest Federally Qualified Health Centers. At Methodist, Herrera researched and published the organization’s 2013 Community Health Needs Assessments—one for each of the five Houston Methodist hospitals. At Legacy, Herrera served as the government grants writer, where he helped secure 35 awards totaling $23 million dollars in federal, state, county, and city grant awards that supported community health initiatives. His medical interests include Urology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Anesthesia, Surgery, and Internal Medicine. Currently he serves as president of the School of Medicine’s Student Government Association.

What inspired you to become a doctor? 
I have the good fortune of having multiple avenues of inspiration. I have two wonderful parents who emphasized and demonstrated the joy of serving others and working on behalf of your community. I went to a Jesuit high school and firmly believe in the ethos of “Men for Others”. I have been extremely blessed to have known, been mentored by, or worked with fantastic physicians. I saw the impact they had. I saw an opportunity to grow as a person. I saw an opportunity to influence my community in a positive manner. I can’t imagine a more interesting, fortunate, or better opportunity to go to work every day.

Why did you choose UTRGV School of Medicine?
I always tell potential medical students during their interview day with UTRGV School of Medicine that people make the place and the place makes the experience. We have fantastic people here. From our faculty, staff, students, and everyone in between, I have zero doubt that this is one of the state’s finest institutions. It’s all about people. Welcoming, friendly, familial, and community-oriented, I am so proud of our school and what it stands for. When I came for my interview I left feeling the vibrant life blood of the school’s community and wanted to be a part of it. I drove straight home to Houston and remember telling my girlfriend and friends that if I was lucky enough to see myself matched to UTRGV School of Medicine I wouldn’t think twice about going.

What areas of research interest you the most? Why?
While at the University of Texas at Austin, I worked under Dr. Sara Goodwin as part of the Ellington Lab’s work on aptamers (short snippets of DNA). I worked with Dr. Goodwin from September 2010 to December 2012. I participated in research that explored using aptamer binding patterns in cancer cell typing and detection. I specifically utilized molecular biology lab techniques such as PCR, qPCR, and RT-PCR, and gel electrophoresis. That was a long time ago.

As far as medical research goes, I’d like to explore patient safety, male reproductive health, inflammation, infectious disease, technology and rehabilitation, and the economics of future reimbursement models.

How has the UTRGV School of Medicine fostered your interests in pursuing a career in medicine?
One of the best parts of the pre-clerkship curriculum that we have is just how much exposure our students get to long-practiced physicians from various fields. For example, Problem Based Learning is a major part of our week. We spend time exploring and discussing real cases during the week before having a specialist come give a grand rounds type lecture. Our students are able to meet and get a sense of various specialties through these interactions.

Additionally, UTRGV School of Medicine’s curriculum has 12 weeks separating the first and second year. This helped me foster my own interests in medicine. I believe a student can take advantage of this time to complete one or more clerkships, precept with a physician, start and finish a research project, travel, see family and friends, and generally grow personally and professionally. These experiences can be deeply influential for our students and their futures.

Tell me about the summer about your first and second year of medical school. Did you engage in any interesting research?
I spent eight weeks with the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I learned an incredible amount from that experience. I was able to improve my clinical skillset, learn about a specialty most people have never heard of, interact with patients, grow under mentorship from residents and faculty alike, and experience life in a new city.

What is one interesting fact others might not know about you that you are willing to share?
I used 4 of the 12 summer weeks to travel and hike over 160 miles of the Colorado Trail.