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'No one can tell you that you can't': Fort Worth medical student born with one hand is overcoming barriers

Taylor Orcutt is a second-year medical student at TCOM in Fort Worth. She's working towards her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Medical school will test you. It will push your endurance, your ability to think critically and it will exhaust you.

But for second-year medical student Taylor Orcutt, the challenge is sometimes even greater than what you would imagine.

"While the days are long," she said, "Thinking about what I can do in the future and the people I can help—that makes it all worth it."

In her classes at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Orcutt often has to find ways to make her medical education work for her. It's how she does things.

"Sometimes it takes a little extra practice," she said.

It's how she's always done things.

Orcutt was born with just one hand. Her left arm ends at the elbow.

Credit: Courtesy
Taylor was born with her left hand

"Really the first time that it really stuck out was in kindergarten," she recalled. "Whenever we went to the playground, all my friends could do the monkey bars and I couldn't, and that was like the most devastating thing to me."

But she always found ways to adapt to her physical parameters. Orcutt, who grew up near Temple, excelled at athletics, from soccer to volleyball-- even basketball.

"I could always tell the other team would be like, we don't need to worry about her," Orcutt said.

She was so good at those sports, she was profiled by the local news.

"I ended up actually doing pretty well and they're like, OK, maybe we need to rethink this," she said, laughing.

Credit: Courtesy photo
Taylor Orcutt played volleyball growing up

That's not to say, though, she didn't worry about her lifelong dream to become a doctor.

"Since it is a lot of hands-on stuff," Orcutt said.

"We have just a list of things that future doctors need to be able to do as far as standards, physical exams, procedures," said Dr. Ryan Seals, one of Orcutt's medical school professors.

He says any concerns about Orcutt performing the physical duties needed to become a doctor because of her challenge quickly faded. She's excelled at it all, learning to intubate or give exams with one hand.

"I think the fact she's had to be so focused and [use ingenuity] her whole life has probably proved to be an advantage to her," Dr. Seals said.

Credit: WFAA
Taylor is a second-year medical student.

Classmate and friend Callie Nance sung Orcutt's praises.

"How she looks at everything so differently and sees things in more than one way, that's really inspiring and honestly a lot of us could learn from that," Nance said.

Orcutt even co-founded a new club at her school that prepares medical students on how best to interact with patients who have challenges, physical or otherwise.

"I feel like if you think you could do it, no one can tell you, you can't," Orcutt said.

Wouldn't we all be so lucky to have a doctor who sees the world and sees you-- that way.

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