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Touched by an AHEC: Stories from 100 Counties
Rachel McLean, DO, OB/GYN resident

Rachel McLean, DO, OB/GYN resident with a patient.

New Hanover County | South East AHEC

Rachel McLean, DO, OB/GYN Resident

By Ricky DiMartino.
Reprinted with permission from FRIENDS: The Newsletter of the SEAHEC Fales Health Sciences Library, Winter 2008-2009, Number 9.

Meet Rachel McLean, Doctor of Osteopathy, a fourth-year resident in the OB/GYN program of South East AHEC (SEAHEC). Originally from Texas, McLean and her family moved to Charleston, West Virginia at the age of sixteen and has considered that her hometown ever since. Prior to the move, McLean’s mother struggled with breast cancer on and off for four years and consequently spent a lot of time in the hospital. She passed away when McLean was just eight years old. It was this experience coupled with her desire to simply help people that were the primary factors in McLean’s becoming a doctor.

As for the greatest influence in her life, that would be her father. After her mother’s passing, McLean’s dad had to raise all four daughters by himself. McLean is the youngest. “He would take us to school, pick us up, he was always around. He was a minister, very family-oriented,” and “didn’t have set hours,” explains McLean. Upon completing undergraduate studies at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, McLean went looking for schools with in-state tuition. She decided on the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine based in Lewisburg. “It was a tiny little place; great for studying,” says McLean. “I had a friend that did well and loved osteopathic school. I felt like they really cared about their students and I heard good things from other students.”

Choosing the school was one thing, but selecting the area of study was another. Obstetrics and gynecology was not immediately on the radar for McLean. When she entered medical school she thought she wanted to be an ophthalmologist because growing up, “it was the only doctor I saw for a long time.” As time progressed she wanted to do gastroenterology and anesthesiology. However, in the end the pros of OB/ GYN won her over. “The patients are younger. I make a bigger difference,” McLean admits. “There is clinical and surgery, not too much of one, some primary care; I like a good mix.”

Since completing osteopathic school, McLean has been at SEAHEC. “We have some excellent teachers,” she says. “There are four that take a lot of calls with us: Drs. Lofgren, Westbrook, Stinson, and [Todd] Beste. They teach in different ways, they’re always willing to help, and they all contribute something.” According to McLean they take more calls than most doctors normally would. Aside from the faculty, McLean values the other benefits of SEAHEC, namely the library. “[The staff] is always very helpful, there are always a lot of resources; whenever I need something it’s there,” mentions McLean. Furthermore, the library “is a good place to read.” She likes “that [the library] doesn’t block its computers – it’s the only place you can come and look at your Facebook. I don’t have a computer, so it’s nice to have it here,” adds McLean.

At the hospital, McLean works like all residents: a lot! Every day of the week she works from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and then she will work one of two rotations on the weekend: 1) all day Saturday until Sunday morning; or 2) Sunday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It’s necessary to work so much, she says, because “basically you need to get your education in four years.” She adds that the work is “much improved than it used to be (before her time) because of the work restrictions. [Residents] used to work 120 hours a week.” On top of that she has to read in her spare time. On a typical day McLean is quite busy. “I round on patients in-house, go to the clinic or go to surgeries, round patients in the afternoon, follow up on anything we ordered in the morning, then check-out to the night team,” says McLean.

When she’s not at the hospital McLean says that her 10-month-old daughter, Lisa, “consumes essentially all of my time.” She also spends time with her husband, Luke, and with the minimal free time she does have, she likes to exercise, go to the beach, and feed her infatuation for interior design. In the not-too-distant future, McLean simply plans to graduate and then land a job. As for where, she is looking in North Carolina, admitting that she likes it here.