Hometown: Miami, Florida
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Howard University
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: BSc. Zoology
Name of Medical School: Howard University College of Medicine
Residency and/or Fellowship: Internal Medicine at the Jackson Memorial Medical Center and Chief Resident at the VA Medical Center in Miami
Favorite Quote: “Equanimity under Duress” – Dr. Lasalle Lefall
Office of Diversity and Inclusion – Miller School of Medicine
1600 NW 10th Avenue # 1130
Miami, FL 33136
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
As Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at the Miller School of Medicine, my role is focused on increasing the numbers and quality of underrepresented minorities in the health care arena. This is a leadership role at our institution, and involves looking at our pipelines of science and education from high school, to undergraduate, medical school, residency and faculty.
If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell him?
I would have pursued research training more aggressively, and would have been more deliberate about collecting data, and reporting findings in an organized fashion. One of the differences you can make in healthcare, is not just with individual patients, but also disseminating findings that affect populations.
What advice would you give to a medical student looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Take advantage of resources, mentors, and summer programs. Be deliberate about building your portfolio through the 4 years of undergrad; don’t try and do it all at once, or just at the end. Don’t be afraid to take time off; try a non-traditional route.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to residency?
Building a portfolio for residency, is very much like building a portfolio for medical school, or any other competitive position you will seek. Your “employers” will be looking at your accomplishments, grades, leadership, community service, research, etc.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Education, and developing the next generation of physicians.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
I don’t have an MPH, but as a junior faculty member I spend 4 years doing coursework towards this. I originally started this to learn about research, but became really engaged and enthusiastic about population health and preventative medicine.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of your job? The easiest part?
The most challenging part is facilitating change. People (and institutions) get used to doing something, so it’s not easy to redirect individual behaviors, or institutional culture. The easiest part and the most rewarding part – is clinical care.
What do you feel makes your specialty stand out from other avenues in the field of medicine?
Treating HIV patients has been a privilege. It’s a change to see fairly young and vulnerable patients, mostly underserved by the health care system, make huge gains in health and that is very rewarding.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Equanimity under Duress” – from my teacher and mentor at Howard University School of medicine, Dr. Lasalle Lefall
How do you manage to balance your work life and your romantic relationship (and family life, if applicable)?
Sometimes it falls apart. Don’t be afraid to say you are sorry, and admit when you are wrong!
What do you like to do for fun?
Salsa dancing has been a huge stress reliever for me. I learned late in life, about 5 years ago, but I really enjoy the music, structure, and challenge of trying to get better in something other than science.
Thank you for your insight Dr. Symes, it is much appreciated! Many readers will take in your words of wisdom and use them in a positive light towards their own respective journeys! And thank you for everything you do!!
Posted on December 19th, 2016