Hometown: Welch, WV
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Marshall University
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: B.S Microbiology, A.A.S Medical Lab Sciences
Name of Medical School: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency Program: Internal Medicine – Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Favorite Quote: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently a third-year Internal Medicine resident with an interest in Cardiology. I chose Internal Medicine during my third year of medical school due to the wide availability of career options, including subspecialty training. I had initially, prior to my medical training, an interest in surgery due to my medical school experience. I transitioned away from that specialty due to my greater interest in the pathophysiology of the heart. I had a great experience with an interventional cardiologist who opened my eyes and heart so to speak to Cardiology and I have never returned. Being a third-year resident physician has been a great experience in terms of leadership. I reflect looking back from my origins to the wealth of knowledge I gathered along this process. Prior to fellowship training I will do some hospitalist work to allow for more research opportunity, financial support and rest.
If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell him?
I think I would encourage myself to stay focused on many of my goals. I would also counsel myself about work/life balance and all the things detailed in being successful in both pursuits. I got married before residency training and had a child during my intern year. I didn’t have a template to have to make those things work together and I spent a good deal of my time trying to balance the two, which I learned was not entirely possible. Either way I am happy with the outcomes. I also would counsel myself about career planning and financial goals. I think a mentor would have been helpful through this process so I would have suggested that as well. Also I would encourage myself to stay motivated overall.
What advice would you give to a medical student looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
In terms of advice, I think the biggest obstacle to success for many is not having appropriate mentorship as I mentioned previously. It makes a difference to have a mentor whom which you can identify with to help foster many of those ambitions you had planned. It also matters to have that person available that can present ideas to you that you haven’t even thought of during your time spent in an already difficult career.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
During medical school, it was difficult being one of a few blacks pursuing this career dating back to undergraduate pre-medicine courses. Of the 200+ medical students in my medical school class there were only 4 including myself. That fact alone was discouraging and to a certain extent, disparaging. Albeit coming from high school forward, I was always one of few minorities pursing a STEM field. I found that as I progressed it became even more important for me to identify with others who have had to overcome a similar plight. I don’t think even at this point that I’ve overcome that reality. Statistically you see matriculation rates similar or worse than years past in terms of acceptance and completion of medical school in particular for minorities. That’s why a website such as this is so important to prompt further discussion and to motivate. My method toward overcoming this personally was to identify with whom I could and use that as a driving force to not only advance my position but others as well.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of your job? The easiest part?
With Internal Medicine, I think the most challenging aspect of what we do as a profession is the wide spectrum of knowledge needed to diagnose. It is a challenge but also rewarding because you have colleagues whom you can consult when you do not know something. It can be difficult at times to manage the health care team in combination with doing what’s best for the patient. The easiest part of what I do is actually seeing patients and taking care of them. Aside from note writing, team management, and bureaucracy within the medical profession, the best part is taking care of someone.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received tons of advice but the best that I received was to know who you are. Once you have refined that definition concerning yourself through whatever process you need to get there, you become unstoppable. At that point no one can tell you who you are and what you are capable of achieving.
What do you like to do for fun?
As of current I enjoy just being at home playing with my 18-month old son and hanging with my wife. I’m also into photography which I have been doing leisurely for several years.
We really appreciate you taking the time to give us some insight into your life and for sharing some advice with us Brent! You had some fantastic things to say and I'm happy to say that many of those who will read this will take your words to heart! Best of luck to you in your endeavors as you strive to become a successful Cardiologist!
Posted on November 8th, 2017