Growing up in rural Missouri, fourth-year medical student Tassy Hayden and her family regularly drove more than an hour to see their physician, who always seemed to be running behind because of the extra time spent with each patient. But they didn’t mind the long drive or the hours spent in the waiting room. “Our family physician was an excellent communicator who carefully explained the nature of the illness, the diagnosis, and the proposed treatment,” she says.
These interactions fostered Hayden’s interest in a career in medicine, a path that ultimately led to Washington University School of Medicine.
Hayden received a BA degree — magna cum laude — in psychology and biology from Washington University. As an undergraduate, she received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellowship and travel stipend, which allowed her to present a poster at the American Diabetes Association conference in 2007.
With her dreams clearly in focus, Hayden applied to medical schools and ultimately chose to remain in St. Louis. “I selected Washington University School of Medicine because the financial aid package was so generous in comparison to other medical schools,” says Hayden.
After her first year, Hayden returned to her home in Maryville, where she completed a primary care preceptorship with rural family medicine physicians. It was during this experience that she recognized her passion for primary care medicine.
Megan E. Wren, MD 85, associate professor of medicine, and Alan I. Glass, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and assistant vice chancellor and director of Student Health Services on the university’s Danforth Campus, have been particularly supportive of Hayden’s plans to pursue a career in primary care medicine.
“It has been such a pleasure working with Tassy over the years,” says Wren. “Her intelligence is complemented by her outstanding rapport with patients. Even as a first-year medical student she was poised at the bedside — professional, yet warm and kind.”
Hayden’s hard work has paid dividends. She was one of the top students in the Practice of Medicine course and won the Physical Diagnosis Award given by the American College of Physicians.
Hayden has also been involved in several extracurricular activities at the School of Medicine, including the student musical and the Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic (a free clinic for the uninsured run by medical students). Additionally, she served as co-organizer of Student Support Services, a group dedicated to the health and wellbeing of medical students.
After graduation, Hayden plans to practice medicine in a rural area.
“Tassy embodies the qualities we want in our own doctors,” says Wren. “I was thrilled when she shared her plan to pursue a career in primary care medicine.”