Dr. James Andry: American Academy of Neurology Medical Student Prize for Excellence in Neurology

By Jeff Carlton

Dr. James Andry

In his time as a student at UT Southwestern Medical School, Dr. James Andry sought a wider view of health care. A one-month elective focusing on the intersection of medicine and public policy helped him, he said, “learn how the real world ticks.”

“I gained a big appreciation for the doctors involved in the public-policy arena,” said Dr. Andry, 26, winner of the American Academy of Neurology Medical Student Prize for Excellence in Neurology. “Instead of taking care of a population patient-by-patient, the doctors that go into that field are trying to care for an entire population at once.”

The elective fully immerses students in public health care issues and includes a two-week stint in Austin working with Dr. Jose Gonzalez, medical director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Medicaid division, Dr. Andry said. He also spent two weeks at Parkland Memorial Hospital, seeing how the initiatives from the state are imple mented in a public hospital setting.

Given the important debates about the government’s role in health care, Dr. Andry said he felt the experience was timely. 

“This is a very interesting moment to be behind the scenes and see what is being done from a policy per spective,” he said. “It’s a rare perspec tive to get while you are going through med school.”

Several faculty members nominated Dr. Andry for the neurology award, including Dr. Mary Quiceno, who said his interest in the elective was particularly impressive.

“We need more physicians to be involved in understanding how public policy will affect their patients and how it will affect the practice of medicine,” said Dr. Quiceno, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neuro therapeutics. “Kudos to him for doing that forhimself and his future patients.”

Dr. Andry, who grew up in San Antonio and graduated from St. Mary’s University, will serve a neurology residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. He said he is considering an additional year of studying both sleep medicine and move ment disorders. His interest in neurology solidified when he did a rotation during his third year of medical school.

“I always had an intellectual interest in neurology, but I wasn’t sure if the clinical day-to-day work would really capture me,” he said. “But once I experienced it, that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Another nominating faculty member, Dr. Mark Agostini, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, worked with Dr. Andry during his ambulatory elective and said the medical student displayed great compas sion and dedication toward his patients.

“He is very enthusiastic and truly cares. He is very dedicated to getting it right with his patients and that comes through rather quickly,” Dr. Agostini said. “He is a very bright student who will, without doubt, be a leader in neurology.”