Adriana Saavedra-Simmons

saavedra-profile-imageName: Adriana Saavedra-Simmons
Hometown: Edinburg, TX
Year in Medical School: MS2
Undergraduate School: Brown University

Adriana Saavedra-Simmons is a second-year medical student from Edinburg, Texas. She serves on the executive board of the UTRGV School of Medicine Student-Run Clinic, is a Student Ambassador, a student representative on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Organization of Student Representatives for the Class of 2022, community service chair of the Latino Medical Student Association and a member of the Minority Advancement in Medicine. She is interested in hematology and will spend this summer conducting pediatric leukemia research at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Do you serve on any student interest groups/organizations/activities? If so, which one(s)?

- Student-Run Clinic Executive Board
- Student Ambassador
- Student Representative—OSR AAMC for the Class of 2022
- Latino Medical Student Association Community Service Chair
- Minority Advancement in Medicine Member

What inspired you to become a doctor? When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I’ve been interested in healthcare professions since high school, but it was not until college that I realized the powerful impact a physician can have on patients. I admired physicians for their use of knowledge, in a compassionate manner, and I love that medicine gives me the opportunity to learn and work with others to improve a patient’s life. I cannot imagine myself pursuing another profession. Medicine is challenging at times yet rewarding and invigorating.

Why did you choose UTRGV School of Medicine?

I chose UTRGV SOM for its commitment to service, supportive faculty, and its collaborative environment. Since Welcome Back Weekend, I felt welcomed as a valued member of the school. The curriculum caters to multiple styles of learning, and I have enjoyed getting to cooperate and learn from my professors and peers.

I also appreciate the many opportunities to be involved. Serving on the Student-Run Clinic Executive Board has been a wonderful experience that is teaching me how to best serve underserved communities. I have also enjoyed serving as a Student Ambassador in which I get to share how our school is unique and exemplary.

What specialties of medicine interest you the most? Why?

I am considering pursuing hematology, a subspecialty in internal medicine. I am intrigued by how ordered processes in our bodies can go awry and become self-destructive. When I first learned about hematology, it fascinated me that a nonspecific symptom such as fatigue may signal a malignancy. I recall sharing my newfound knowledge about chronic myelogenous leukemia with a group of university employees. One of the employees shared how her mom was misdiagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia and it was not until she was worked up for surgery, that a CML diagnosis was made. By that time, it was too late, and she passed away several months later. Her experience motivates me to learn more about how blood disorders are diagnosed and the steps necessary to avoid misdiagnosis. I desire to be the physician that bridges the gap for low-income patients with blood disorders.

How has the UTRGV School of Medicine fostered your interests in pursuing a career in medicine?

UTRGV School of Medicine has refined my desire to serve underserved communities. Before I started medical school, I considered pursuing primary care to provide care to low-income communities. Now, I understand that I can serve the Rio Grande Valley through multiple outlets. Through various lectures and extracurricular experiences, I realize that I can serve underserved communities through advocacy while serving on committees that make decisions that impact health, in addition to providing medical care.

What are your plans for research this summer?

As part of the American Society of Hematology Minority Students Awards Program, I will be conducting pediatric leukemia research at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. We will be comparing the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines between high end-of-induction lymphocyte count and low end-of-induction lymphocyte count plasma samples in effort to better understand chemotherapy toxicity in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Given the increased survival rates of pediatric leukemia patients, researching the impact of chemotherapy-related toxicities is the next step in improving cancer care.

What is one interesting fact others might not know about you that you are willing to share?

I wrote a poem titled “Pure in His Eyes” in high school and it was published in a collection of student poetry.