February 28, 2020
Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University biology graduate Erica Herrera will follow her dreams to medical school at Rocky Vista College of Osteopathic Medicine in Parker, Colorado in July 2020.
Herrera, a Las Vegas, New Mexico native, graduated cum laude from Highlands in May 2019.
“I like the philosophy of osteopathic medicine including its approach that medicine should be inclusive of the mind and soul when working with the human body,” Herrera said. “I also appreciate the osteopathic emphasis on preventative medicine, which is going to be even more important in the health of future populations.”
Herrera said it was her first Anatomy and Physiology class at Highlands with biology professor Ben Nelson that planted the seed for her to become a physician. She said that working as a scribe at the Alta Vista Regional Hospital emergency room for three years solidified her dream to pursue medicine.
“At Alta Vista, I have started to understand medical decision making and the intricacy of patient care. I want to become a defining factor in lessening obstacles to health care for my community and communities like Las Vegas,” Herrera said.
Steven Spady is an osteopathic physician who directs the emergency room at Alta Vista Regional Hospital where Herrera is the chief scribe. Spady said scribes are an integral part of the medical team for documentation and coordination of care for patients.
“Erica’s potential in the medical field is unlimited,” Spady said. “She is so enthusiastic about medicine and wants to serve mankind as a compassionate provider. Erica works extremely well with the patients and staff at Alta Vista.”
Spady said Herrera is an excellent supervisor and leader of the scribes at Alta Vista.
“Erica demonstrates the highest professionalism at all times,” Spady said.
Herrera said her education at Highlands was phenomenal and well rounded.
“I was able to study immunology, histology, cardio physiology and evolutionary medicine at Highlands,” Herrera said. “The excellent professors I learned from made it possible for me to compete with students from top universities like USC, UCLA, and Notre Dame to earn a seat in medical school,” Herrera said.
Herrera said biology professor Jessica Snow was one of the first professors at Highlands to believe in her.
“After completing a genetics class with Dr. Snow, she helped me get a research grant and taught me a lot of valuable techniques in the lab. Dr. Snow has been a fantastic mentor throughout my undergraduate education and I’m very grateful,” Herrera said.
Herrera said Highlands biology professor Ben Nelson was also instrumental in her education, offering numerous pre-med courses.
Snow said Herrera’s dedication to her studies and scribe work is exceptional.
“Erica demonstrates the ability to balance many challenges simultaneously,” Snow said. “She always came to class prepared and knowledgeable, despite working nearly full time at Alta Vista.”
Snow said that as a doctor, Herrera will be an outstanding problem solver.
“Erica will be dependable in her diagnosis and care for patients. She’ll be empathetic and have a good bedside manner. I have full confidence in the doctor Erica will become,” Snow said.
Looking ahead, Herrera said she is interested in serving rural populations.
“I think everyone deserves equal access to quality medical care,” Herrera said.