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Member of First Freshman Class Becomes a Doctor

Editor’s Note:  The fall of 1998 was a significant moment in the history of The University of Texas at Tyler.

Fifty young, eager students not only began the next chapter of their lives, but they also helped the university begin the next chapter of its life as a traditional four-year university. They are UT Tyler's first freshman class.

Those young students have moved on to experience travel abroad, graduate schools and careers. In this series, we will take a look at life after UT Tyler for a few of those history makers.


Shelly From the small town of Quitman to a pediatric residency in Arkansas, Shelly Hamrick, one of UT Tyler’s first freshmen, has experienced new beginnings, leadership, medical school and discovered her true passion.

In the fall of 1998, Hamrick was a member of UT Tyler’s first freshman class.

“Since there were only 50 freshmen in my class, we were almost like a family or a small high school class,” said Hamrick. “It was nice because we really got to know each other, and in a way it was more welcoming.”

Each year UT Tyler accepted more freshmen and the university continued to flourish.

“In our sophomore and even junior years, we were able to act as mentors to the upcoming freshmen and guide them through the changing university,” recalled Hamrick. “We were starting out just like the university was, and I think that helped me stay on track because I knew others were looking up to my class.”

Because Hamrick was a pre-medical major, she spent most of her undergraduate career preparing for medical school.

“While I was at UT Tyler, I was a member of the Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental club. We visited different medical schools and learned when to take the MCAT, when to apply for medical school and the admission processes,” said Hamrick. “Those trips really helped me be prepared to get into medical school.”

Hamrick graduated from UT Tyler in May 2002 with a bachelor of arts in health and kinesiology. The following August she began medical school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth in the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

When applying for medical school, Hamrick interviewed with both the osteopathic and allopathic schools. She felt the philosophy of osteopathic medicine was more in line with her own philosophy of the human body and how to treat it.

“Doctors of osteopathy and medical doctors, which are also known as allopathic doctors, have very similar training. In addition to the standard training and teaching methods, a D.O. is also trained in manipulative medicine,” said Hamrick. “In manipulative medicine, we are trained to feel how the bodies’ tissues, muscles and bones are aligned and then treat them to relax. For instance, a person who is having pain in their hand may have a problem in their neck causing the hand to hurt. We determine the source of the pain, and treat the actual problem instead of just the symptoms.

Hamrick spent her first two years of medical school in the classroom.

“Getting through medical school requires a determination and a drive to study. I learned early in medical school that one semester is equivalent to 33 hours of undergraduate work,” said Hamrick, who thinks being a member of UT Tyler’s first freshman class and engaging in its academic environment better prepared her for the challenges of medical school.

“It was difficult, but it wasn’t a very hard transition for me. I feel I was more prepared than the other students because of the studious environment that was present at UT Tyler,” said Hamrick.

After two years in the classroom, Hamrick spent her third year conducting rotations in the different fields of medicine. Rotations in her fourth year were tailored to pediatrics, which is the type of medicine Hamrick wants to practice.

In May, Hamrick graduated from medical school as Dr. Shelly Hamrick, D.O. She is currently performing a three-year pediatric residency at a children’s hospital in Little Rock. After completing her residency, Hamrick plans to move back to Texas and practice general pediatrics in the Tyler or Fort Worth area.

"For the next three years, I will perform monthly rotations in the hospital, emergency room and clinics as an intern and then as a second and third year resident. I have all the privileges that any other doctor does, like writing orders and prescribing prescriptions, but there are upper level residents and attending doctors who serve as my mentors and help guide me," said Hamrick.  "So basically, I will continue to learn to treat children and help them live healthier lives."


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