How a College of Medicine Community Outreach Program Prompted One Woman to Achieve her Passion

Mini-Medical School presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Cirillo in 2009

Mini-Medical School presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Cirillo in 2009

Dr. Mary Ketchersid is not your typical nursing student, and her path to nursing school nearly ended before most (if not all) of her classmates were even born.

More than four decades after having her acceptance into a nursing program revoked simply because she was married, Dr. Ketchersid decided to attend a unique program called Mini-Medical School hosted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Medicine, and the rest is history.

Now in its seventh season, Mini-Medical School invites members of the Bryan-College Station community to participate in lectures and interactive question-and-answer sessions with TAMHSC-College of Medicine faculty. Over six weeks, faculty members lecture about current health issues, diseases and prevention. (Beginning in October 2010, Mini-Medical School will also be offered at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Round Rock campus.)

“I have attended Mini-Medical School for four or five years, and I have really enjoyed each program,” Dr. Ketchersid said. “I love medicine and always wished for more classes.”

“I wanted to go into nursing in 1962 when I graduated from high school and was accepted into a program,” Dr. Ketchersid explained. “I got married but was told that as a married person, I could not attend.”

Time passed, and in 1965, Dr. Ketchersid took a job at Texas A&M University where she would continue to work for 44 years. She officially retired from Texas A&M in January 2010, and along the way she earned a B.S., an M.S. and a Ph.D.

In 2005, Dr. Ketchersid joined the St. Joseph Auxiliary, the volunteer organization for St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, but holding down a full-time job meant she could only volunteer on weekends. St. Joseph’s obliged, and she began volunteering 12 hours every Saturday. To date, she has accumulated more than 1,500 volunteer hours in the emergency room and at St. Joseph’s Joint University, an experience she said, “…made me want to be a ‘real nurse.’”

Armed with that desire, Dr. Ketchersid emailed Cathy Hansen, M.S.N., R.N., an assistant professor in the TAMHSC-College of Nursing, whom she thought was in Corpus Christi working with an online nursing program that offered clinical rotations in Bryan. The email found Hansen, but, as luck would have it, she wasn’t in Corpus Christi after all. She was at the TAMHSC-College of Nursing in College Station.

“I visited with [Hansen] and was encouraged to apply to nursing school here,” Dr. Ketchersid said. “I was accepted to the 2010 accelerated class, and now with two semesters to go, I will graduate in May 2011.”

Since being accepted, the TAMHSC-College of Nursing has relocated to the health science center’s campus in Bryan. Dr. Ketchersid continues to tackle the second half of her training for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree.

To learn more about the Mini-Medical School and the TAMHSC-College of Nursing, visit medicine.tamhsc.edu/mini-med and nursing.tamhsc.edu, respectively.

— Marketing & Communications