For 14 years, Traci Bourgeois taught 6-12 Science in Jefferson Parish Public Schools. When her school, the Jefferson Parish School for Science and Technology, was renamed the Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, Traci had no idea what an impact the Taylor family would have on her life. She didn’t know then that she would be going to medical school, and that the Patrick F. Taylor Scholarship in Family Medicine would make her dream of becoming a primary care physician a reality.
“As much as I loved teaching, I always felt that there was something else I was supposed to be doing with my life,” Traci said, “It was always my dream to go to medical school, but life got in the way.”
Although Traci was devoted to her students, medicine never was very far from her mind. While teaching biology, she was amazed and frustrated with the knowledge that her students didn’t know enough about their bodies. “In biology, the entire human body is supposed to be covered in a 6-week span of time,” She explained. “In my opinion, that isn’t enough time to gain a true understanding of how organ systems work and interact with each other.”
To ease her frustration, Traci wrote the curriculum for a one-credit anatomy course that was approved by the state of Louisiana. She was able to teach this class at her school, and to help other teachers implement the course at their schools.
Then, thinking that it might help her fill that need that she was meant to be doing something else, Traci earned a master’s degree in biology from Mississippi State University, and began teaching anatomy part time in the evenings at Delgado Community College. While she enjoyed this experience tremendously, she still felt something was missing.
During a career day at Patrick Taylor, Traci volunteered to staff the medical field lecture given by a physician. At one point, she pulled the doctor aside and asked him what he knew about older applicants going to medical school. His response was to encourage her to apply. After completing another school year, she finally decided she didn’t want any regrets in life, so she took the MCAT and applied to medical school.
Traci was the first one in her family to graduate from college, let alone go to medical school. “I never thought that I would receive an interview much less several,” Traci said, “I was thrilled that LSU decided to grant an interview to me and even more thrilled to be accepted.”
One day, while lecturing at LSU Health New Orleans, Dr. Mary Coleman told the class about the Patrick F. Taylor Scholarship in Family Medicine. From working at Patrick Taylor Science and Technology Academy, Traci was familiar with the legacy of Patrick Taylor and was excited at the chance to apply for the scholarship.
“I have always intended go into primary care medicine,” Traci said, “I love the aspect of being on the front line, so to speak, trying to keep people healthy and out of the hospital as much as possible.”
But the truth of the matter is primary care doctors often do not earn anywhere close to their counterparts in other fields. This often prompts students like Traci to feel like they have to specialize in order to pay back school loans. For Traci, winning the scholarship meant that she could indeed pursue a career in primary care without the burden of the additional two years of tuition weighing on her decision. In addition, Traci has hopes the scholarship will enable her to practice in a smaller community that could truly benefit from a primary care physician.
“I love the idea of giving back to the state of Louisiana, and look forward to practicing here. The scholarship strengthens my desire to give back to my community,” Traci explained.
Traci wants anyone considering giving to LSU Health Foundation New Orleans to know that their money will have a great impact, not only on a scholarship recipient’s life, but will also enable that recipient to provide care for communities in Louisiana that may not have ready access to quality health care.
“As a former teacher and future doctor, it is my hope to be able to not only care for citizens of the community, but also to educate them on their health and the steps necessary to stay or become healthy,” Traci said. “I am proud of the years that I spent teaching and feel that it has prepared me for a career in medicine. In order to be a great physician, I feel one must also be a great teacher.”