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Career Center

Elizabeth Hopson

K-State graduation year: May 2006
Degree: BA Spanish and BS Human Nutrition
Other degree received: MD, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque NM
Current employer: First Choice Community Health Care and University of New Mexico Hospitals, Department of Family Medicine
Position: Family Physician, Outpatient Clinic. Attending Physician for Maternal Child Health Service (the family medicine obstetrics and infant service at UNMH)

Describe the process of choosing your major.

In high school I had an interest in learning Spanish after doing volunteer work multiple summers in Mexico. I also was interested in health and fitness and wanted to learn more about nutrition so I picked my majors bases on the desire to learn more about these fields.

What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
  • Tri Delta Sorority 
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Phi Kappa Phi 
  • Golden Key Honor Society
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?

After college I received a Fulbright grant to do research at El Instituto Nacional De Salud Publica in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I worked in public health research related to nutrition and childhood obesity. I then completed Medical School and Family Medicine Residency in New Mexico.

Describe the process of finding your first job.

As a primary care physician its fairly easy to find a job because there is a high demand for primary care physicians such as Family Physicians, Internal Medicine Physicians, or Pediatricians. I was interested in working with an underserved Spanish speaking community so when looking for a medical practice I focused on the patient population as well as a practice with similar values among my coworkers.

Briefly describe a typical day at your job.

I work usually 8-5 at an outpatient medical practice. I have the opportunity to take care of patients with a wide range of medical problems, from newborns, women needing prenatal care, adults and the elderly. A few times a month I work with the residents at UNM hospitals supervising obstetrical care.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety. I really feel that I use my undergraduate education daily as I speak Spanish about 65% of every day in the clinic. I like helping patient’s lead healthier lives. I also enjoy the relationships that are built with patients over their lifespan.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Physicians are pulled in many directions from administrative tasks, to teaching residents, to taking care of patients, it can be difficult to find balance with work and home life. 

What advice would you give someone interested in your field?

I think medicine is an exciting field for people who desire to constantly learn new things, as well as have the opportunity to help people.

What were the stepping stones that led to your current career?

The road to becoming a physician can be long. There are many requirements and tasks such as pre-medical classes in college, getting good grades, and taking the MCAT. Then medical school can be a challenging environment with studying and working many clinical hours as well as taking multiple board exams. After medical school comes more clinical training in the field of your interest during residency; which can range from 3-7 years. After residency some physicians will do fellowship and become more specialized in their fields and some will start to practice in the community. It can seem like a long process, but for myself it was worth it in the end.

Has your career path taken any unconventional turns that you never would have expected?

No, since deciding to become a physician with the exception of the year I spent doing research as a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico, I have been pretty much on the same training track.

How have any changes in your life situation affected your career path? 

I was lucky to meet my husband in medical school, we did the residency match together and together we picked a residency that would be great for both of our careers. 

What was the one thing you did in college that has had the most impact on your life or career?

I believe both of my majors have been very important to my career. Learning Spanish has allowed me to work with a larger population of patients. Learning more about nutrition has given me a great advantage working with patients on making lifestyle changes for improved diet. Unfortunately nutrition does not get more than a few lectures in medical school so I felt fortunate to have this education prior to becoming a physician.

What tips do you have for current undergrads about opportunities they should definitely take advantage of while they are in school?

Get involved with research that interests you. Learn another language and if you study language go abroad for a semester if possible. I spent at least a year in Mexico and Spain while in college and these were some of my favorite memories.

Was there a specific class you remember that sparked your interest in your career direction?

My favorite class in college was Spanish Poetry, I don’t think it helped my medical career but the lectures and poetry by Dr. Benson were memorable.

Was there a specific person in college who had a significant impact on your life or career?

I had a lot of help from many people in the College of Human Ecology, especially in the department of Human Nutrition.  Dr. Mary Higgins was my research advisor, and I felt that all of the faulty were approachable and helpful.

What didn't college teach you that you wish you would have known before you started your career?

Be your own advocate, be confident in your skills and education, and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Do you keep in touch with your college classmates? How have those relationships influenced your career?

I am in touch with many students from my majors and I think that we are supportive of each other in professional networks.


For more information, Elizabeth can be reached at elizabethgreig.2011@gmail.com