COM Announces Student D.O. Of The Year
Dec. 20, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd
Gabriel Hapenciuc was named the 2022 Student Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine of the Year by the Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Nominations for the award are peer-based and Hapenciuc, a first-generation student, is honored to be recognized by his classmates for the work he has completed in pursuit of his dream of being a doctor of osteopathic medicine.
This dream originated from an incident that left Hapenciuc’s father, a hard-working Romanian immigrant, injured and in need of repeated doctor and hospital visits that yielded slow results. As he watched his father carry on with numerous treatments and surgeries he wondered if there was a better way.
“When I found out that osteopathic medicine was a thing, and that they could do some physical manipulation on patients to help their healing without having to use more extreme methods, I thought, wow, that’s super cool,” Hapenciuc said.
After finding his calling he decided to attend SHSU for his bachelor’s degree, which he received in 2020. After being immersed in the university’s environment during undergrad, Hapenciuc knew he wanted to join SHSU’s College of Osteopathic medicine.
“I just love the atmosphere there, it’s so familiar,” Hapenciuc said. “Everyone’s super friendly, friendly faculty, administrators, staff and other students. You can go around any corner and there’s a face smiling back at you. I didn’t find that anywhere else.”
Hapenciuc takes pride in the COM’s passion for providing quality care to those who are underserved. The COM’s mission is to train physicians to provide the eastern region of Texas with primary care access. While he has yet to work under a rural physician, Hapenciuc has volunteered at UT Southwestern Dallas’s free community clinic.
“Most people that go there are immigrants who arrived within the last week, so the vast majority of them were only Spanish speaking,” Hapenciuc said. “This was their first experience [in the United States] and we didn’t just offer them healthcare, we also give them resources. It was awesome to be able to do more than just healthcare.”
Looking ahead, Hapenciuc is excited to continue his studies and show others how osteopathic medicine can help them. He said through the advanced palpatory skills he and his peers are learning they can help identify problems and work through solutions that may be overlooked by others.
“This award is another big motivator, I’m trying the best that I can because I’m not just doing it for me, I’m doing it for my family, I’m doing it for my future patients,” Hapenciuc said. “They deserve to have an excellent physician out there and I want to be the best physician that I can be to provide the best care that I can and make an impact on people’s lives.”
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