North Carolina AHEC Program
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Meet SEAHEC Resident Jadene Lowry, MD
By Ricky DiMartino
Jadene Lowry, MD, is a third-year resident in the family medicine program at South East AHEC (SEAHEC). Lowry, a Lumbee Indian, was born and raised in Pembroke, North Carolina, in Robeson County, a county that is predominately Lumbee. Growing up there did not feel unique for Lowry. “It wasn’t until I went to Greenville in second grade that I realized not everyone was a Native American,” noted Lowry. Her family moved to Greenville while her mother attended medical school at ECU, then spent two years in Fort Still, Oklahoma where her mother worked for Indian Health Services.
The Lumbee Tribe is the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi River. Although the state has recognized the Lumbee as an official Indian tribe, they have not been federally recognized. “It would mean more for the tribe as far as getting funding for education,” explained Lowry. “However, I prefer to stay out of the politics of it all.”
Lowry’s surname is one of the more common names of the Lumbee people. Strike at the Wind, the annual outdoor drama that takes place in Pembroke, depicts Henry Barrie Lowrie, who is somewhat of a “Robin Hood for the people [of our tribe],” said Lowry. She is not aware of any relation to him, but grants there might be one somewhere down the line. Furthermore, the 1790 census, the United States’ first, indicates that Lowry was a common Lumbee surname. According to Lowry there might be a connection between the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the names of the Lumbee. “A lot of people think that’s where our ancestors came from,” she said, adding that some Lumbee do have blonde hair and blue eyes.
Lowry completed her undergraduate studies a t UNC-Pembroke and medical school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her aspiration to make a difference and her mother were prominent influences. “I decided to become a doctor after seeing my mom go through medical school and I wanted to help people and feel satisfied. I like getting to know people. As a doctor you do more than just provide health care. You get to know your patients and build relationships and affect their lives in positive ways,” said Lowry. She admits that being a doctor takes a lot of time, and it wasn’t “family friendly” when her mother was going through training. Lowry hesitated initially. “I thought, ‘Should I be in computers? Or business?’ But there’s no middle ground with being a doctor. It’s either something you really want to do or you don’t.” Her mother often jokes about her “misguided” choice to be a family physician. But in reality her mother gave helpful advice for tests and encouraged her during the strenuous education.
Lowry came to SEAHEC as a third-year medical student and that experience made her want to come back for her residency. “I wanted a hospital with a more personal approach, not a big university hospital. That’s what you get here. You’re not just another face in the crowd, you’re Jadene,” said Lowry. However, in spite of the homey feel, the work is grueling. “It’s like the Army; you get yourself into a routine for whatever rotation you’re on— get up, go to work, go home, eat dinner, go to bed.”
Lowry likes the fact that she can get in to the library afterhours. She says that the staff is “always willing to help find articles when I can’t get them anywhere else.”
In the time away from work, Lowry frequently goes home to Pembroke where most of her family lives. She also enjoys listening to music, watching movies at home, cooking and is “addicted” to Facebook.
Lowry looks forward to graduation. She thinks she’ll end up back home in Pembroke for a little while, adding that “there’s something in the water that keeps me coming back.” She continued, “I’m not sure what kind of practice that I’ll choose, but I know I want to go back home. I could be a hospitalist or have my own clinic. That’s the good thing about family medicine. You can pretty much go anywhere, and do anything.”
Reprinted from the SEAHEC Health Science Library Summer 2010 newsletter Friends of the Library.