Alumni

New Medical Student Helps To Keep Her Family Legacy Alive

Thursday, September 1, 2011

As the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson welcomed the Class of 2015 on Aug. 5 at the White Coat Ceremony, Rachel Baumann, daughter of alumna Susan Baumann, MD, helped to continue a family legacy.

Dr. Susan Baumann graduated from the UA College of Medicine in 1985 and currently practices psychiatry in Phoenix. Her daughter, Rachel, recently graduated from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and now is a student on the Tucson campus.

Rachel said her mother did not push her to follow in her footsteps, but instead helped support her throughout the rigorous application process.

“My parents missed me during college and undoubtedly hoped that I would return to Arizona for medical school, but the decision to make the UA College of Medicine my first choice was my choice alone,” she said.

Dr. Baumann also shared her feelings about her daughter’s application process. She explained that Rachel felt an allegiance to Arizona and wanted to return home after being so far away during her undergraduate education.

“I was both excited and nervous. I knew that she would make an outstanding physician. I wanted her to be accepted so badly, but just had to wait. I think in some ways it may have been more stressful than waiting for my own acceptance 30 years ago,” Dr. Baumann said.

Now that the stress and anxiety of the admissions process have ended, she appreciates the fact that her daughter is walking in her shoes.

“I am deeply honored that Rachel chose to follow in my footsteps. When [she] decided to apply to medical school I was very excited and very honored that she had chosen to follow my career path,” she said. “I have loved being a physician, and do believe that I conveyed that to her. I continue to believe that it offers an incomparable opportunity to be constantly challenged, to use one’s diverse strengths and to improve life for those we encounter.”

In order to attempt to make their legacy tangible, the Baumanns have an item that has been passed down to symbolize the journey towards becoming a physician.

“When I started medical school 30 years ago, my mom gave me a small, stuffed Snoopy wearing scrubs and a surgical cap. I kept it on a shelf in a spare room and eventually pinned my medical student nametag to its front,” Dr. Baumann said.

She explained that when Rachel received her acceptance letter she gave her the Snoopy stuffed animal. The item now sits on a shelf in Rachel’s apartment to signify a gift and “passing of the torch” from her mother.

“I hope it exudes love and support, and helps her through those tough times,” Dr. Baumann added.

She also handed down her ophthalmoscope, otoscope and “infamous black bag” from medical school and residency. Because Dr. Baumann does not use those items in her psychiatry practice, she is able to freely give them to Rachel to offer support during the long, strenuous hours she’ll endure during the next few years of her life.

In addition to obtaining physical evidence of her mother’s career, Rachel said she also holds fast to the traits that make Dr. Baumann a successful physician. Rachel said she admires her mother for many reasons.

“More than anyone I know, my mom lives a truly balanced life. She strives every day to be the best person that she can be, at home and at work. Toward her patients, she is compassionate and listens with patience and respect,” she said. “She finds time to exercise every day, literally, make home-cooked meals every day and still be available and present for her children, her husband and her elderly parents. She is a person who is constantly striving to be the best that she can be and I admire her for that.”

Although Rachel exemplifies a legacy at the College of Medicine, she may not follow directly in her mother’s footsteps. She does not believe peruse psychiatry as a specialty.  

“Tentatively I hope to become a pediatrician or some pediatric specialist, but after starting medical school last week, it has really become clear to me how many different specialty options are available. I’m sure I will change my mind multiple times over the next three years,” she said.

In the future, Heather Saner, director of alumni affairs and special events, would like to establish a legacy program for incoming students whose relatives have attended the UA College of Medicine.

“The UA College of Medicine has reached an age where we are beginning to see ‘legacies.’ A legacy is a student or alumnus who has a relative who graduated from the UA College of Medicine,” Saner said.

Medical graduates from the University of Arizona share a special bond. Regardless of graduating class, Med Cats embrace similar memories and instruction that are cherished for years. Being a legacy makes attending the College even more special because family members are able to reminisce about their experiences.

The Alumni Office is interested in recognizing alumni who are making the UA College of Medicine education a part of their family tradition. This information has not been tracked officially in the past, so the office staff is asking for your help. If you are a member of a legacy family, please contact the Alumni Office at medalum@u.arizona.edu to share your legacy information.