Dec. 16, 2019 — At the age of 16, most are busy ranking their favorite teen heartthrobs and taking trips to the mall. Mitsy Audate, however, was focused on something greater: her future career in medicine.
The summer before her junior year of high school, Audate — now a first-year student at the UF College of Medicine — attended the BEST Summer Academy, a program for Tampa area minority students interested in medicine. Learning in the anatomy and cadaver laboratories at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and presenting cases to faculty members riveted Audate. She’d spend her nights studying each day’s material and marveling at what she’d witnessed in the lab.
“I remember holding a real brain in my hands. You hear so much about this organ, but to hold it is something completely different,” Audate says. “After that summer program, I was sure I wanted to be a doctor. I’d been thinking that since I was 9, but the program gave me the taste of medicine I needed to affirm that this is where I needed to be.”
Today, receiving the Helen Aubrey Pratt Scholarship gives Audate further motivation to pursue her passion at the UF College of Medicine. Inspired by the college’s belief in her abilities, Audate has recently joined a mentoring program to coach undergraduate students interested in medical training.
“Receiving this contribution feels like the UF College of Medicine is helping me achieve my dreams and making it possible for me to pay it forward and help future students,” she says. “It’s showed me that you’re never too busy to pay it forward. The people who mentored me were very busy people, too. You have to make time for what’s important.”
Audate makes time for her fellow members of the class of 2023 by serving as their vice president and student advocate. Bolstered by the support system her class has formed, Audate advocates for them by holding office hours to gather students’ questions and concerns and then presenting those to faculty. Currently, she is organizing a workshop with the college’s learning resource specialist and mental health counselor to prepare her class for the volume of study material coming in their second semester.
“Inevitably, medical school is hard, but what gets you through is who you are surrounded by. My classmates are a family to me. I love my class and felt like I could advocate for their needs and represent those who need to be represented,” she says.
Ever since she attended the BEST Academy, one career has been top of mind for Audate: a hand surgeon who treats upper extremity issues like carpal tunnel and broken hands and wrists. She’d love to practice as part of an academic institution where she can continue her love of teaching others.
“When we learned about the musculoskeletal system in the BEST Academy, I thought, ‘Oh, yes!’ I’ve run with that idea since I was 16,” she says. “Medicine is more than fixing a problem; it’s educating patients.
“Medicine is a great integration of problem solving, human interaction and teaching all at the same time.”
After only one semester into her medical training, Audate is confident she is receiving the education she needs to become the patient-centered physician she’s dreamed of being since she was 16.
“You can’t be an amazing doctor if your patients don’t feel like you care or that they can talk to you,” she says. “I came to UF for medical training because they demonstrated how important patient-centered care is here. UF is a place where I can become a humanistic and skilled physician all in one.”