Stepping Over the Net

How a Tennis Prodigy Found Her Calling Treating Service Members and Veterans at TouroCOM

April 19, 2024
Ruxandra Andriescu standing before a poster of her research.
Ruxandra Andriescu delivered a poster presentation about her research efforts during the Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons 2024 Conference in Oklahoma.

Romanian-born Ruxandra Andriescu was a top four juniors tennis player in Canada and even ranked as high as the number one tennis recruit in all of Ontario. At sixteen, however, she had a realization: “Making a professional career out of tennis was more of my dad’s dream than mine,” said Andriescu.

Instead of going pro, Andriescu opted to attend James Madison University where she studied biology and computer information systems on a tennis scholarship. “I think tennis gave me the discipline and drive to continue to learn, improve, and grow,” she explained. “It kept me motivated.”

After graduation, Andriescu began graduate school at Georgetown University where she studied healthcare administration. After being recruited by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as a senior consultant for the military health system, she spent the next five years working with the government on programs related to traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide prevention. A lucrative career beckoned for Andriescu, but like her earlier tennis career, something else called to her.

“I met a lot of military physicians, and I became passionate about the mental health policy work they were doing,” explained Andriescu. “I realized that was my calling. I loved working in healthcare and understanding the business and policy side but being around military doctors made me want to be on the clinical side.”

At the height of Covid she began the arduous process of applying to medical school. She learned about TouroCOM from colleagues at PwC and simultaneously applied for the US military’s Health Professions Scholarship program. The scholarship, which pays for medical school, requires the applicant to serve as a commissioned officer after they graduate.

“Some of the doctors I worked with prior to medical school had gone this route and were really happy with their career,” she said. “I was a little bit older, and as a non-traditional applicant the scholarship seemed like the perfect mix of my future career goals and avoiding the financial burden of medical school.”

Another consideration was gratitude. “I was so proud to receive my American citizenship during graduate school, and I wanted to give back by joining the military.”

Andriescu said TouroCOM Middletown’s warmth, both from students and faculty, was immediately apparent. “The professors really care about our success,” said Andriescu. “TouroCOM Middletown is not cutthroat like other medical schools, and people are willing to help each other.”

Andriescu took advantage of TouroCOM Middletown’s proximity to West Point and continued her work with the military. “I knew that West Point was involved in the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium studies funded by the Department of Defense and the National Collegiate Athletic Association,” recalled Andriescu. “I reached out to the lead investigator and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Andriescu was involved in two research projects: one examined the use of quantitative pupillometry to assess concussion symptom duration and another examined the effects of sleep on concussion recovery. She presented her research at the Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (AMOPS) 2024 Conference in Tulsa, OK, in March.

“Presenting my poster was a confidence-boosting experience because it provided the platform to speak about something I'm passionate about with other professionals in the field,” said Andriescu.

She is set to graduate next year.