Dr. Michelle Dobbs: Minnie Lee Lancaster, M.D., Scholarship Awardin Family Medicine

By Kristen Holland Shear

Dr. Michelle Dobbs recalls the eighth-grade project that led her toward a career in medicine.

The project involved studying how people react emotionally to colors.

“That got me interested in ophthalmology and psychiatry and really reinforced the idea of going to medical school,” said Dr. Dobbs, who moved to Round Rock, Texas, from Johannesburg, South Africa, at age 12. “I was excited to find something that allowed me to use my academic abilities and interests to help people in need. The fact that my family has had excellent family doctors throughout my life also reinforced my desire to be a doctor and, ultimately, a family doctor.”

Dr. Michelle Dobbs

For her work and dedication to the field, the 24-year-old Texas A&M University graduate has been awarded the 2010 Minnie Lee Lancaster, M.D., Scholarship Award in Family Medicine. In 1953, Dr. Lancaster and her husband, Dr. Edgar Lancaster, opened the Grapevine Clinic and Hospital, the first clinic in Grapevine and the forerunner of Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine.

Dr. Dan Sepdham, assistant professor of family and community medicine, said Dr. Dobbs has a “servant’s heart” and a “passion for the underserved, particularly in Third World nations.”

“She has been highly active in volunteer opportunities throughout medical school, both locally and internationally,” he added. “Michelle embodies the spirit of family medicine in her desire to help all patients, regardless of age, gender or disease condition.”

Dr. Dobbs, who will complete her residency in family medicine at John Peter Smith (JPS) Hospital in Fort Worth, said she and her husband, Jered, plan to stay in Texas. Once her residency is completed, she hopes to join a group practice and provide primary health care in her community. Dr. Dobbs said that being able to participate in medical and nonmedical mission trips is also important to her both professionally and spiritually. “I hope to continue that throughout my life,” she said.

Dr. Dobbs said many people, including her parents, family and friends, have played a role in her success, but two physicians stand out as mentors: Dr. Vanessa Rogers, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern, and Dr. David McRay, a family physician at JPS.

“Dr. Rogers helped me when I was briefly considering other specialties and wondering what to do with my life,” Dr. Dobbs said. “She encouraged me endlessly and helped talk me through what I wanted in life.”

Dr. McRay, she said, “is the example of a caring Christian doctor whom I hope to emulate. He not only taught me but also encouraged me professionally and spiritually. By watching him, I have learned what an endlessly giving Christian doctor looks like and how to integrate my faith into my practice.”