Get to know: Cannon Woodbury
Meet Cannon Woodbury, one of three Engineering Medicine (EnMed) pilot students at Texas A&M College of Medicine. EnMed is a partnership between Texas A&M College of Engineering, College of Medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital to educate a new form of doctor—a physician engineer, or “physicianeer.” We spoke to Woodbury about his experience as a pilot student, his thoughts on the engineering-based medical degree program and his aspirations.
Q: Why did you choose a career in medicine?
A: I always loved working with my hands and my brain. Medicine seemed like the perfect combination.
Q: What made you choose Texas A&M College of Medicine?
A: I like Texas A&M’s dedication to military and rural health. Also, my younger brother is studying construction science here, and I wanted to join him in College Station.
Q: What was your biggest hurdle getting here, and how did you overcome it?
A: My biggest hurdle was deciding against other careers to pursue medicine. I was studying biomedical engineering and torn between a PhD, going into the engineering industry or studying medicine. I did a semester of research in the University of Texas Southwestern orthopedic research lab, where we worked right down the hall from the orthopedic surgery department. I was able to take part in clinical experiences because the lab and the surgery department worked so closely together, and through those experiences I realized medicine was my calling.
Q: What has your experience been like so far?
A: I get a feeling of dread if I use something and I don’t know how it works. Getting to learn exactly how our bodies work and how they go wrong is just what I needed to take away some of that ‘I use this body every day and have no idea how it works’ dread.
Q: What’s the coolest thing you’ve done at Texas A&M?
A: I joined the Texas A&M Triathlon Team, and every Saturday we cycle a 50-mile route outside of College Station called ‘The Prairie.’ Cruising at 18 mph down country roads on a road bike with the most awesome people at Texas A&M has been the coolest thing for me.
Q: If you could invent anything though this program, what would it be?
A: I would improve on the current brain-computer interface technology so people working in an operating room or other high-intensity situations, such as in the military, emergency room, air traffic control, just to name a few, can link their minds together. This would allow them to communicate instantly and work as a perfect cohesive unit.
Q: What impact do you hope to have on the world?
A: If I can take one person’s ‘worst day of their life’ and improve it in some small way, that would enough for me. If I can make a device that does that, but for thousands of people, that would be even better.