Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Incredible Alumni: Shannon Toews Potter

Shannon Toews Potter graduated from LETU in 2006 with a Bachelor's degree in biology. She went on to attend the University of Texas School of Medicine, followed by a residency at St. Louis University School of Medicine, where she was named Best Teaching Resident. She now lives in Congo and works as an OB/GYN and Director of Maternity Services with Samaritan's Purse World Medical Mission. She spends her days bettering the lives of women and children and making LETU proud to call her an alumna.

What does an average day look like for you?
Shannon Toews Potter
The light from the sun and the sound of the community wake us around 6:00 a.m. I go in to the hospital at 7:00 a.m., discuss and treat patients with other doctors or medical students, and do surgery three times a week. We have a two hour lunch break and then it's back to the hospital until 5:00 p.m. Dinners are usually shared with another missionary family. It's a small community and easier to cook for a few extra than to cook every night. We have a gardener and house help, which replace the dishwasher or lawnmower that most people in the US have and gives people in the community a very respected job. In the evenings, we occasionally listen to a podcast, watch a movie, prepare teaching lessons for the next day, make homemade ice cream or play a board game. We are board game nerds and brought over 40 pounds in games.

What are some of your responsibilities in your current position?
Responsibilities include performing surgeries three days a week, participating in official teaching meetings and patient rounds with medical students and residents three times a week, improving the structure and quality of care in the maternity ward, seeing patients, performing and teaching ultrasound techniques and teaching nurses newborn resuscitation.

Describe a high point in your career since graduating from LeTourneau. 
I was named Best Teaching Resident out of all residents and fellows at St. Louis University, as voted by the medical students and received the medical student teaching award specifically for OB/GYN three times during residency. Passing on knowledge to the next generation is such a joy to me and being recognized for my efforts was very special.

How is your LeTourneau education benefitting your current position?
It's more often who you know that matters, rather than what you know. As I continued to add layers of knowledge in medical school, it is hard to know exactly when I learned specific information that I use every day, but the people I know from my time at LETU continue to benefit me. For instance, a fellow LETU student connected me with someone in admissions at the medical school I went to (it's hard to get in to a Texas medical school when one is from out-of-state). LETU professors and alumni support us financially and prayerfully as we are on the mission field. Some even promised that support over eight years before it happened! I email a fellow classmate surgical questions I need second opinions on. A former LETU professor visited us in language school in France and we are even working with LETU alumni here in Congo. The network of people, nerdy–ahem–smart enough to have taught or graduated from LETU is also crazy enough to follow God's call on their life, be that here in Congo, an oilfield in the Middle East, the business place in China, a farm in Texas, or giving back by teaching other LETU students.

What would you say to a current LETU student in your same major? What would you say to someone considering the same major? 
Dr. Jarstfer, then the dean and also my professor for many of my biology courses, counseled me not to settle. That's different for everyone, but don't settle just for lack of trying. If you can go for a PA or MPH or Master's level, don't settle with a Bachelor's. If you can go for an MD, DO, or Doctorate, then don't settle for an MPH, a Master's level or a PA. Get to the highest level you can that will open the doors that you don't even see yet. You won't regret it.

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