Q&A: Regens Known for Patient Advocacy, Leadership

By April Wilkerson
Writer, OU College of Medicine

Alexandra “Allie” Regens earned her medical degree May 21 with the Class of 2016. Regens had a distinguished medical school career at the OU College of Medicine, winning the Krishna Award for her community service efforts working in free clinics in Oklahoma City. She also won a Podalirian Award, chosen by her peers in recognition of her clinical performance, community service, leadership, strong advocacy on the part of patients and fellow students, and her ability to function well in the team approach to medical care. She will be doing her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the OU College of Medicine.

Regens answered several questions about her time as a medical student.

Alexandra “Allie” Regens receives a Podalirian Award during the 2016 Aesculapian Awards.

Q: What spurred your interest in attending medical school?

A: For as long as I can remember, I have always said I wanted to be a doctor. This desire stuck with me over the years as I realized I wanted a career where I could form strong personal connections and see the direct impact my work had on others.

Q: Describe your time working in the free clinics – what did you do, and how did those experiences change you?

A: Being a hands-on learner, I knew early in medical school that there was knowledge I would never gain in the classroom. I started volunteering at Good Shepherd Clinic during my MS1 year, which quickly filled that gap for me. In contrast to having one professor in the classroom setting, the clinic is full of teachers – attending physicians, staff, peers and, most importantly, the patients. At Good Shepherd, I did not just learn to perform an adequate history and physical; I focused on the nuances that made these skills my own. I practiced truly listening to my patients and adapting my approach to their individual concerns, both medical and social. I think these skills are vital to building a relationship of trust with your patients, especially in the free clinic setting. Recognizing your patients’ circumstances is vital to breaking down their individual barriers to health.

Alexandra “Allie” Regens is presented the R. Murali Krishna, M.D., Community Service Award during the 2016 Bridges to Access Conference, which is organized by OUHSC students. With her are R. Murali Krishna, M.D., left, and Robert McCaffree, M.D., OU College of Medicine faculty member.

Q: How has the OU College of Medicine shaped you as a future physician?

A: Having grown up in Oklahoma, I feel a special connection to the people here. They are hardworking, generous and kind. This spirit is evident in the countless faculty, peers and patients who have served as mentors during my time at the OU College of Medicine. It is also apparent in the emphasis that is put on volunteer opportunities for our students. Programs such as the OU Community Health Alliance (OUCHA) and Empowering Patients through Interprofessional Collaboration (EPIC) shaped my medical education. Because of the encouragement from the OU College of Medicine and their volunteer organizations, I am confident that service will remain a focus throughout my career.

Q: What made you choose OBGYN as a specialty?

A: During my MS3 OBGYN clerkship, I was advised that when picking a specialty you should consider its pace. I personally tend to work harder under pressure, which made me feel comfortable on labor and delivery or in the operating room. I also enjoy working with my hands, which attracted me to the procedural aspect of clinic. The real heart of my passion for OBGYN, however, lies in the opportunity to connect deeply with your patients. This field allows you to follow a woman through so many key life experiences. I see that as a unique privilege and challenge of OBGYN.

Q: What excites (or scares) you about residency?

A: Everything about the transition from student to resident is both exciting and somewhat scary for me. I am thrilled to be staying at OU for my residency and getting to work with the people who inspired me to pursue OBGYN. I am also excited to take this next step in my career and actually have patients of my own. While the idea of taking on all the new responsibility is admittedly intimidating, I am confident that my time at the OU College of Medicine has left me well prepared for the challenges to come.

Q: As you continue your educational journey, how do you want your patients to view you as a physician?

A: My biggest goal as a physician is for my patients to feel heard. Having ample time to sit with a patient was one luxuries of being a medical student; it taught me to see patients’ health not just as their diagnosis but rather as a conglomerate of their circumstances. I know this can be a major challenge for physicians due to time restraints. I hope that I can adapt my style as a physician so that my patients see me as provider who hears their concerns and treats them as an individual.