Passion for rural health guides Zhang through unforgettable journey

Bingyue Zhang

To say Bingyue Zhang’s journey at the University of Missouri School of Medicine has been nontraditional is an understatement. In 2020, she trekked more than 6,800 miles to move from Jinan, China, to Lawson, Missouri. Transitioning from a hometown of more than 9 million people to a new residence with a population just over 2,500 presented a culture shock that would challenge most individuals.

However, for Zhang, her new home in a small town in western Missouri would solidify her desire to make an impact in the field of rural health. In 2021 as a second-year student, she was able to gain invaluable real-life experience by practicing in a rural community through the Clinical Rural Immersion program.

“I participated in a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LINC) in Sedalia, Missouri, and was able to follow a panel of patients throughout a year for all their medical appointments,” said Zhang. “I found the experience very valuable and it allowed me to learn multiple specialties through every step of the patients’ care, while helping them navigate through the complexities of the health care system.”

With her rural health experience in her back pocket, Zhang flourished throughout her four years at the MU School of Medicine, culminating in a memorable Match Day ceremony on March 15. As the Class of 2024 opened their envelopes and learned where they’ll be training as resident physicians, Zhang officially was tabbed as an integrated resident through MU’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Starting as a first-year medical student in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges presented for Zhang and the Class of 2024 were unparalleled. Being able to celebrate a momentous occasion like Match Day with her peers and family members is something she says she’ll never forget.

“My mother and I had been enthusiastically talking about Match Day since my first day of medical school,” said Zhang. “It was wonderful to celebrate the day with her, my dad, my boyfriend and fellow medical students, and I’m grateful for all of their love and support. It was also exciting to find out who else would be incoming Family Medicine residents at MU, and I look forward to working with them for the next three years.”

As the 2023-24 school year comes to an end, Zhang and her classmates will meet on May 11 at Jesse Auditorium for Spring ’24 Commencement. As she reflects on her tenure so far at MU, she’s grateful for all of the support and resources that were at her disposal.

“Looking back as a freshman, I couldn’t have imagined me standing here and ready to graduate from medical school,” said Zhang. “As a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I wouldn’t have had the courage to follow my true passion if it wasn’t for the encouragement, love and support from my parents.”

“Also, I’m very grateful to have been part of both the Bryant Scholars Program and Rural Scholars Program and learn from Dr. Kathleen Quinn. She was one of the most influential mentors during my medical training and she believed in me from the start. Dr. Quinn introduced me to all the opportunities that MU provides and I really appreciated all she did.”

For the next wave of MU School of Medicine graduates and incoming freshmen classes, Zhang encourages students to live in the moment.

“Not only will the medical training at the University of Missouri shape you into a qualified and compassionate physician in the future, but the consistent support from the staff, physicians and your peers will allow you to enjoy and cherish the process,” said Zhang. “Don’t doubt yourself during the journey and enjoy it!”