Leslie (Pickett ’04) Hutchins, M.D. | Biology and Biochemistry
Neurosurgeon, Virginia Commonwealth University
As chief resident of neurosurgery at Virginia Commonwealth University, Leslie Hutchins has already completed her rounds of checking in with the neurosurgery patients at the hospital - both ICU and regular floor patients - by 8 a.m. and now has the choice of which surgeries she will perform today. Of course, that's after rising at 4:30 a.m. to feed her 1-year-old daughter and getting ready for work.
Life of a neurosurgeon
"Neurosurgery can be emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting," Hutchins says. "It seems glamorous, but when you are sacrificing everything, spending 14- to 16-hour days during residency, it's not so glamorous. But when you can perform an intervention that can change an outcome for an individual or a family, that is what I love the most about my job."
As a student at Cooper High School in Abilene, Hutchins worked on the yearbook staff and cultivated an interest in photography. She planned to make that her career until one of her science teachers planted a new idea. He suggested that her grades and personality might be a good match for a career in medicine, and that advice set Hutchins on a new path as she enrolled in college.
After receiving a Presidential Scholarship to ACU, she majored in biology and biochemistry. Both of Hutchins' parents attended ACU, and her father, Hubert Pickett ('74), is a former member of ACU's Board of Trustees. Family connections aside, Hutchins was drawn to ACU's impressive medical school acceptance rate and the genuine personal attention of the faculty.
"I knew ACU had a great reputation for getting its students into medical school," she says. "The professors start molding and preparing you your freshman year, emphasizing a solid GPA and being well-rounded. Their letters of recommendation are genuine and demonstrate the essence of ACU and its students. They also have mock interviews to allow you to prepare for your interview date. The students coming from ACU are exactly the type of students every medical school wants."
Hutchins' medical career plans evolved during her time at ACU and as she began medical school. She entered the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center with an ambition to work in pediatrics, but, despite once fainting while watching a hernia repair, later changed her focus from pediatrics to surgery.
"As a second-year medical student I was observing in the emergency room when a patient with a subdural hematoma came in and went immediately to the operating room," Hutchins says. "I got to go along to the operating room and, ever since then, I have been hooked."
While a freshman at ACU, Hutchins met (and later married) the boy next door. Brian Hutchins, who was then enrolled in the Marine Corps, lived next door to her parents and came over one evening to meet her at the suggestion of her dad. They married three years later, and he completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of North Texas while she attended medical school at UTSW in Dallas. Today, they have a 1-year-old daughter, Talia, and Brian is head of technology for Benedictine College Preparatory, an all-boys military high school near their home in Richmond, Va.
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