Though Transylvania University student Taylen Henry has not yet attended medical school, she’s already seen two major emergencies from a hospital’s perspective.
Henry, who graduated from Transylvania this weekend, worked at Marshall County Hospital throughout the pandemic at the front desk of the emergency room, and then again after tornadoes ripped through the state. She hopes to become an emergency room doctor in a rural hospital, like the one she’s worked at for the past several years.
“It was the hardest I’ve ever worked,” Henry said, referencing working in the hospital after the tornadoes. “Other than the pandemic.”
In December, Henry had just returned home for winter break. She arrived home and almost immediately had to shelter in the basement of her mom’s house in Benton, Kentucky, as storms and tornadoes hit the area. Thankfully, her family did not have any major storm damage or injuries.
But Benton is about 30 minutes from Mayfield, which took a huge hit during the tornadoes, and Marshall County Hospital quickly became busy, Henry said.
Henry’s mom, a nurse, was called into the hospital around 2 am Henry was scheduled to work in the emergency room the next morning, and went in early to help. People were being transferred to Benton from Mayfield, Henry said, and “it was chaotic.”
She began going to patients, transporting them to rooms and cleaning hospital rooms. She worked for about 14 hours that day, doing whatever she could at the hospital. It reminded her of why she wants to pursue rural medicine, because “you really got to see the community come out,” Henry said. Nurses and volunteers were calling or coming to the hospital, asking how they could help.
Those experiences only strengthened her desire to become an emergency room doctor, she said. Henry said she feels like she got valuable experience working in a smaller setting, and was able to get one-on-one time with doctors that she may not have in a different hospital.
Henry began working at the part-time hospital when she was 18 and still in high school. She knew she wanted to do something in the medical field, inspired by her mom, but was not exactly sure what she wanted to do. She worked at the front desk in the ER, and said it was what inspired her to pursue a career as an emergency room doctor.
“It’s the most immediate form of helping people,” Henry said.
Henry has been accepted to the University of Louisville Trover Rural Track to pursue rural medicine. The program, based in Madisonville, accepts about 10 students each year for their clinical rotations and trains them in rural medicine.
Henry said she knew the Trover Program was the next step for her because it reminded her of Transylvania. Her interview for the program was the week after the tornadoes hit Kentucky, and their first questions were about making sure she was OK.
Henry said she values the experiences she had, from the hospital to Transylvania, and they’ve helped prepare her for her next step of medical school.
“Those experiences just helped me prepare for any type of situation that could walk through the door,” Henry said. And, to be quite honest, you’re still never going to know every situation that walks through the door. You just have to be able to adapt to whatever situation, and stay calm and stay cool, stay in that leadership position, and work through the problem. ”