RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Courtney Austin is a d/Deaf third-year medical student at the UTRGV School of Medicine.

Growing up Austin said she was not fully aware she was deaf and might have limitations.

d/Deaf refers to an individual who identifies as being deaf, with the lowercase “d” indicating that they have a significant hearing impairment.

“As a d/Deaf child, it was easy to think something was wrong with me,” Austin. “I was not like the other kids and did not act like them. But, I spent a lot of time with physicians who made me feel like I could do and be anything.”

Those experiences as a child motivated her to consider medicine as a career and she did not allow deafness to dictate what she could do.

“I was inspired to consider medicine by spending my childhood in the doctor’s office,” Austin said. “I thought everything they did was incredible.”

She admitted, for a time, she thought medicine would not be a good fit for her. The turning point was when she and her father were in an accident. It took nearly a year for her father to fully recover from his injuries.

“In that year, I experienced the highs and lows of patient care and advocacy and the moans and groans of our health care system,” she said.

The UTRGV School of Medicine has provided Austin with patient exposure from day one and allowed her to conduct investigations that could lead to possible treatments.