Lindsey Keplinger ‘18

B.S. in Biology

“I want to build a relationship with my patients and earn their trust.”

An opportunity to help provide medical care to residents living in impoverished Ecuador has strengthened the career aspirations of WVU junior Lindsey Keplinger.

The Foundation Scholar from Braxton County spent this past summer working with the Medlife organization in the South American country, providing medical services, health and wellness education through mobile clinics.

“It made me realize the small things I take for granted. It also motivated me to continue to pursue medicine,” said Keplinger, who will earn her bachelor’s degree in biology next year.

Keplinger assisted Medlife doctors, using the opportunity to strengthen her desire to pursue a future in medicine to help those here in the United States who may also lack medical care.

Keplinger had made plans to attend West Virginia University even before becoming a Foundation Scholar, the top scholarship awarded by WVU annually to just five incoming freshmen from West Virginia. She said WVU was close to home, provided a wonderful opportunity for medical school and was going to be financially easier for her and her family.

Keplinger said without the Foundation Scholarship, she likely would not have had the chance to travel to Ecuador with Medlife.

While there, Keplinger stayed in a hostel in Riobamba, and every day traveled about an hour to a community to set up a mobile clinic. At the clinic the organization would set up triage, dental, pharmacy, education and obstetrician-gynecologist stations which Keplinger and the other students rotated through daily assisting the organization’s trained medical staff.

“While assisting the physicians, I wanted to be able to help more, but I couldn’t simply because I didn’t know how. This feeling of helplessness is what pushes me to pursue medicine, because I always want to be able to help as much as I can in every situation.”

Keplinger had never been out of the country before the trip, and said the experience expanded her view of the world, and made her feel lucky to live in the United States.

After earning her undergrad degree, Keplinger plans to attend medical school specializing in pediatric care or obstetrics/gynecology. She already has had the opportunity to shadow at J.W. Ruby Hospital in Morgantown with both physicians and medical students who are also rotating as attendees.

She decided to pursue medicine because it combines her love for science with her love for people. She loves learning, and believes a career in medicine will provide many opportunities to be a life-long learner.

Keplinger said she can also combine that love for learning with her desire to teach others, whether it’s through formally teaching a medical school class, guiding residents and medical students on rounds as an attending physician, or teaching her patients more about their own bodies and health.

“WVU’s greatest gift has been the amazing people I’ve been able to meet in the three years I’ve been here,” she said. “They are some of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.”

And she knows that once she graduates with her bachelor’s degree, medical school, likewise, will be a fantastic and memorable experience.

“I want to build a relationship with my patients and earn their trust.”