Former science teacher pursuing medical studies in population-based urban and rural community health

From a very young age, Stella Barth dreamed of becoming a doctor. As a student, she turned to science classes and research. But after earning a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology from Harvard College, she took a different path.

The Stoneham native taught science for eight years, first at Newton Country Day School in Newton, then at the Williams School in New London, Connecticut, before arriving at TH Chan School of Medicine the last fall.

“Medical school was always something that was still on my mind,” Barth said. “I finally decided to apply to medical school and UMass Chan. The school really jumped out at me. Being from Massachusetts, I felt they really appreciated that students from the Massachusetts come to train as doctors within the Worcester County community.

Barth is a first generation university and medical student. She is part of the Population-Based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) stream, which focuses on population health, health care disparities, and health issues specific to urban and rural communities. She chose the PURCH track because the tight-knit community resembled her community of teachers. Students in this program study alongside physicians from Baystate Health.

“We get these one-on-one sessions with them where we talk with them and then we can actually go see patients with them,” Barth said. “I already feel like I’ve developed a good relationship with my preceptor and his patients, and I feel like it’s just the intimate contact with the clinical community that you want in a program like this. this.

Between teaching and medical school, Barth worked as a clinical research coordinator in a spinal cord injury research laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and completed a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at Harvard. She was able to work with patients with spinal cord injuries and observe their evolution over time. After her medical studies, she wants to practice neurological physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Last fall, Barth presented the results of his research on spinal cord injury at two national conferences: the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Society for Neuroscience. She said it’s important to learn about health care through individuals within communities and what they need over time because that changes.

“Working with people with a wide variety of spinal cord injuries and paralysis has taught me a lot about how people adapt to continue interacting with their environment when their bodies don’t behave like they used to. “, Barth said. “I am very dedicated to working with people with neurological injuries and other functional deficits.”

Barth thrives on the path she has taken and she also encourages others to follow their dream.

“I am an older, non-traditional student. It doesn’t matter how long you haven’t been to school,” she said. “I took a decade off before going to medical school, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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