Dr. Cari Cowling: Southwestern Gynecologic Assembly Award

Even though she grew up as the daughter of a nurse, Dr. Cari Cowling never had a medical career in mind for herself.

Her mother's job on a hospital medical/surgical floor did spark Dr. Cowling's interest in medicine, but the path she initially preferred was research. Leaving her home in Hallettsville, Texas, she majored in genetics at Texas A&M University with an eye toward that goal. But fate had something different in mind.

"I worked as a lab assistant for most of the four years I went to college," she said. "And a person that I worked with in the lab wanted to go to medical school. He knew a lot [about UT Southwestern] and liked it."

Soon, Dr. Cowling decided that medical school was the right path for her. "I interviewed at all the schools in Texas, and I liked UT Southwestern the best."

Dr. Cowling discovered her true interest is in obstetrics/gynecology, and she graduates with the honor of being named winner of the Southwestern Gynecologic Assembly Award. Established in December 2003, the award is given to an outstanding UT Southwestern graduate who is pursuing a career in obstetrics/gynecology. Dr. Cowling is only the second recipient of the award.

Dr. Susan Cox, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, nominated Dr. Cowling for the honor. Dr. Cowling, she noted, completed the OB/GYN clerkship in 2003-04 with the overall highest average.

"She excelled in every category we assess," Dr. Cox said. "The attendings and residents respected Cari and her ability to gather patient information. She is not only bright, but establishes an easy rapport with all members of the health-care team."

Dr. Cowling trained at Parkland Memorial Hospital for labor and delivery, as well as gynecological surgery, and did her subinternship in maternal/fetal medicine.

"That just made me make sure that I definitely wanted to do OB," she said. "It's just exciting. I thrive in that kind of environment."

In particular, Dr. Cowling remembers being affected by a rare payoff: A patient she'd treated for weeks in the hospital for a pregnancy complication actually came back to visit after her baby was delivered. "I followed her for a long time," she said. "I just really got to know her well. She was a really fun person."

She said pregnant women, in general, make great patients because they are so willing to follow instructions and take care of themselves. "A pregnant woman wants to do the best for her baby," said Dr. Cowling, who will remain at Parkland for her residency after graduation.

She said she's grateful to all the mentors and friends she's met and learned from during her medical school years.

"I had such great teachers and people that were willing to show (me) things," she said.

One of those mentors, Dr. Cox, said Dr. Cowling is sure to do well because, "She has all the innate qualities to be an excellent OB/GYN -- one that I would love to call my doctor. She is personable and a delight to be around and will be a devoted and caring physician."