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Highlighting the Heroes: Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine Grad up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medelita H.E.R.O. Award

Brooke Walls

Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine – Indian Shores, FL
Brooke Walls graduated from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine where she excelled both academically and professionally. She has a passion for learning and enjoyed her basic sciences courses, especially anatomy. Brooke's passion for anatomy and teaching was illuminated by her enthusiasm for teaching. After completing her first year of basic science courses, she was offered a coveted position in the anatomy department to teach an accelerated anatomy course and laboratory to physician assistant students. Over the course of the summer, Brooke, along with four other medical students, lead cadaver laboratory sessions and helped students learn through her own passion for anatomy. Anatomy is integral in the osteopathic training and a thorough understanding of structure and function is pivotal in order for osteopathic students to improve patient care and treat patients according to osteopathic principles. Brooke’s creativity in teaching allowed students to easily understand the basics of anatomy and learn effortlessly. For Brooke, this was a huge accomplishment, as she had never taken an anatomy class prior to medical school. In undergraduate she studied international affairs and spanish. While this education contributed greatly to her understanding of the world and her environment, she approached medical school with great trepidation. She placed great priority on her studies, so she could become the best physician possible. She felt the more effort she put into learning now, the more it would pay-off for her future patients in the long-run. Her strong background in anatomy has molded her into an excellent cutaneous surgeon, where it is imperative to know superficial anatomy. The residency program in Florida offers advanced training in skin cancer prevention, detection, and treatment; it has an excellent dermatology surgery teaching and Brooke has a passion and cutaneous oncology and surgery. She is an excellent surgeon and takes much pride in her work. She completed a year of research prior to entering dermatology residency. During her year of research she worked in the cutaneous oncology department at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida where she conducted epidemiology research on melanoma and other rare cutaneous skin cancers such as merkel cell carcinoma and adnexal neoplasms. Her strong research foundation has given her the opportunity to work with some of the experts in the field of melanoma. She has contributed to many research projects and manuscripts that have advanced our understanding of melanoma. As well, because of her outstanding understanding of cutaneous oncology, she has been able to foster relationships and establish a clinical rotation at Moffitt for future dermatology residents. Her passion for skin cancer prevention is also manifested by her willingness to volunteer at many community skin cancer screening in the community. She is also race director of an annual 5k run charity event that benefits the Melanoma Research Foundation. Brooke works tirelessly to help patients, the community, and the residency program. Her goal is to leave the residency better than when she arrived and to provide opportunities for those who follow in her footsteps. Brooke’s mother has been diagnosed with melanoma three times. While this initially fueled her interest in cutaneous oncology, her work at Moffitt Cancer Center ignited her passion for this field. She witnessed many patients with advanced stage disease and felt helpless as she watched so many of them succumb to their disease. Her research at Moffitt Cancer Center, the volunteer efforts that she is involved with, and her desire to prevent melanoma and help contribute to the understanding and treatment of this devastating cancer are the driving forces behind her passion. After graduation Brooke will spend another year as a fellow at Brigham and Woman’s cutaneous oncology fellowship, continuing in her efforts to become a better physician. Brooke made many personal sacrifices to earn her osteopathic degree. She grew up in an economically disadvantaged family. She has worked since she was 11 years old, paid for her undergraduate and graduate education on her own. However, she would not admit to being the one in her family that has made sacrifices, as she feels it is a privilege to be a physician and to have been given this educational opportunity so that she can help improve the lives of her patients. When pressed, she would say that it is her husband, a truly selfless individual that has made the personal sacrifice. Devon Walls, her husband, has put his career on the back burner to support her and her dreams for the past eight years. She contributes her strength and everything she has accomplished to the support of her husband and her family who have believed in her. Vote for Brooke here. If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.