Katie Payne, the daughter of a logger and a school teacher, knew she wanted to make a big impact on the world, but it took an anatomy class at Cuba (Mo.) High School to guide her decision to go into medicine.
“When I started telling people I wanted to be a doctor, because I come from a small town with no family background in healthcare, their first reaction was to tell me how unpractical this was,” says Payne, a 2014 biological science graduate of Missouri S&T.
Her choice to attend Missouri S&T started out as an economical one, but when she saw how caring the faculty were, and started on her first research project, she knew she was in the right place.
“I have been very fortunate with research opportunities in college,” says Payne, who worked as a research assistant for Rolla dermatologist Dr. William V. Stoecker. “The job allowed me to collect data directly from patients and analyze it.”
Payne graduated with eight research publications on her resume. Her favorite, which was published in the November 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology, examined the way pain is transmitted in a patient with a brown recluse spider bite.
Now in her third year of medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Payne is still conducting research. She works with a neurologist and headache specialist at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City to use trigeminal nerve stimulation to treat chronic migraines in kids.
“Medical school is challenging but very rewarding,” Payne says. “I spend most of my time trying to find a good balance between work and play, which I think is common to most careers.”
Payne plans to graduate in May 2019 and begin her residency that June. In March she will start clinical rotations at Truman Medical Center, a safety-net hospital in Kansas City. She is thrilled to get out of the classroom.
“Working with patients at Truman Medical Center is a humbling experience,” she says. “It really adds a new perspective to medicine.”