Hometown: Old Bridge, New Jersey
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Central Florida
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Major: Biology, Minor: Creative Writing
Name of Medical School: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Residency Program: Matched into the Emergency Medicine program at Emory University
Favorite Quote: “If you can’t be the writer, be the story.”
Contact Info: email@example.com
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
At the time of writing, I‘ve got the senioritis as I am 10 days away from graduating with both an M.D. and an MPH from the University of Miami. I’ll be starting as an Emergency Medicine resident at Emory University in June. I didn’t decide to get into medicine until pretty late in high school. Keeping this short, I had just moved down to Jacksonville, Florida from Jersey at the time. I was the new kid at my high school and didn’t know what to do with my extra time outside of track & field and a job at Dairy Queen, so I got involved in this after school program that was composed of primarily minority kids. Many of them were dealing with some sort of chronic illness, sickle cell disease for example, and many of them also lived in the tougher parts of the city. I’d hear about how they’d have to travel long distances just to see any physician and they spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals. Those kids deserved so much more than what they were going through so I became inspired. This stuck with me, as I got involved with somewhat similar volunteer work during college in the Pine Hills area of Orlando where people were going through similar challenges. This sort of inspired me to pursue my MPH as well. My interest in Emergency Medicine started in college. I spent a few years working as a medical scribe and it was the best job, out of the many jobs, that I’ve had, thus far of course. I enjoy the diverse pathology of a county hospital setting, the opportunity it presents to make a difference in the community it serves as the “front line of healthcare” aside from primary care, and the skillset you gain with the various procedures. EM people are also a ton of fun…the kind of people you’d enjoy kicking back with and having a beer or two.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
Get you head in the game earlier man. Although I chose medicine towards the end of high school, I didn’t decide on becoming a physician until early in college. As most of you that are reading this may know, the road to medical school is very different from avenues towards other careers in healthcare, so I wish I had started earlier as to avoid some of the academic stress that comes with trying to check off all the boxes on the list of what is required to go to medical school.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Emergency Medicine is big on experience. Yes, it’s fairly competitive and you need the right board scores and all of that but I think what you’ve done in your time in medical school and life in general really helps your application. Having a ton of jobs (like a stereotypical half-Jamaican I suppose ha…) was actually a positive thing for me on the interview trail. Your clinical skills, standard letter of evaluations (or SLOEs…I’ll let your EM advisor fill you in on those), and your interview/personality are also big factors.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
We all have personal challenges, big and small, and there are a few that are truly personal to me but what I will say that applies to many that are reading this is don’t let the number of jagged rocks in your path up your personal mountain dictate the route you take to get to the top. Those rocks may cut you deeply but grab ahold of them, learn from them, and use them to pull yourself up towards where you want to be. Nothing is as satisfying as achieving something your way. I found myself working full-time in the emergency department, part time in a department store, as needed at a bar on the weekends, taking classes, and studying for the MCAT towards the end of college. I’d leave the ER at 2AM and ride straight to campus to study for the MCAT in some empty engineering building up until class started. It felt like hell and I rocked those bags under my eyes for months but it got me where I am today and I learned so much from that experience. Never doubt your abilities. You got it if you want it.
What is your favorite thing about your medical school?
THE U! Just the location in beautiful Miami alone makes the medical school a standout but I’ll save that for the question towards the end. The University of Miami presents so many different opportunities for students, no matter what your interest may be. My particular program, the M.D. & MPH track, allows us the opportunity to do some of our public health work overseas. Going through high school and college, I always wondered what it would be like to take a class overseas and the University of Miami granted me that opportunity as I spent two months in Nigeria working in an HIV clinic, a tuberculosis unit, and a sickle cell ward in addition to taking a Nigerian public health epidemiology course at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital. It was an amazing experience and I can definitely still see those TB upper lobe cavitation chest plain films in my sleep (ha!..)
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
I’m getting the MPH with the M.D. and I would say that it has impacted me in the sense that I have a better understanding of the environment’s (as in those social determinants of health) impact on health and the delivery of care. I don’t think I’ll ever become some statistics machine (just not the type of person that I am) but the knowledge that I’ve gained allows me to evaluate an individual patient from an additional populations perspective. Say a teen gets shot in the stomach and dropped off at the ER. After the stabilization, fluids, ultrasound, sendoff to the operating room, etc…what’s next? How can physicians, leaders in our respective communities, take steps to combat gun violence? This would consist of preventive interventions inside AND outside of our respective clinical settings. This would entail really getting involved in our communities, from meetings to forums to discussions, to gain a better understanding of the root problem.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to medical schools?
Don’t be concerned with how everyone else is getting to medical school. Focus on yourself and do it your way. It may take a little longer than other people (trust me I know) and you may have to adapt to certain challenges that other people will not be facing, but get it done and get it done in fantastic fashion.
Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?
I took a little longer to graduate simply because I was working full-time and I took whatever classes that I could afford per semester towards the end of my college career so I would say my time in the ER was my time off (ha..) but I did do some traveling to Jamaica, where my mother is from, and Nigeria, where my father is from. Whatever it is, make time for you time after college because whatever higher being you believe in knows you deserve it after a pre-med college life.
Do you have any passions outside of school? If so, what are they?
I’m big on continuing to do things that brought me to whatever “table” I’m at so aside from what I do with the University of Miami, I’ve been involved, when I can of course, with various youth groups in South Miami. I also became a wish granter with the Make-A-Wish Foundation during my second year. MAW does a lot of great things for kids with life-threatening illnesses and it’s a great opportunity to do some good, especially for medical students who are used to having tough conversations with children such as these and their families. However, if you’re not, you will be as a wish granter and this organization has really helped me grow during my time in medical school.
What do you like to do for fun?
TRAVEL. It’s an addiction. I’ve started to put pins on this world map that I have and I dream of pins everywhere. Anything that involves food. Also into craft beers! DM me your favorite craft and where I can find it…I’m trying to broaden my horizons. Aside from all of that, I’m an anything-outdoors guy, an exercise guy, and a guy who likes to write when the mood hits me.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
Time management was tough during medical school. I got so involved with so many things that I often caused more issues in terms of my own wellness than I expected. I would say finding people that understood what I was going through as a black male in medical school came easier than I thought. SNMA provided a great group of faculty members and students that were always open to talk. That’s a MUST GET INVOLVED organization for the pre-meds!
How have you been able to deal with your romantic relationship and medical school at the same time?
My dating in medical school advice is find someone that understands the little time you have to actually devote to a relationship. If they’re cool with that, then roll with it. If a medical student spends time with you, that time might as well be gold bars because we’ve got so much going on every single day around the clock. Either that or just do you. All of that will come with time.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?
Get outside. Miami has great beaches and great food. A good adventure is a great stress reliever.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at your school?
The short list is I’ve been the President of our Emergency Medicine Interest Group, a project manager and director with our Department of Community Service, and I’m currently the editor-in-chief of our school’s literary journal. Even during college, I felt that extra-curriculars really added purpose to what you were doing with your academics so I’ve always been the type to get involved any way that I can outside of the politics of Student Government. Again, don’t spread yourself too thin.
What is it like attending school in your city?
Miami is unlike any other city in the country. Beautiful weather and amazing beaches. The variety in food is incomparable as well. You can get some great carne asada in one part and then some amazing griot and roti in another. I’ve also appreciated the diversity in the patient population as well.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Movies?
My favorite artists range from Cole, Chance, and Kendrick to Tribe, Andre 3K, and Common. There is Pac, BIG, and Pun of course as well. Yes, I say Pun in the same breath (doesn’t mean the same level) as the other two and often I skip Pac tracks for Pun and I stand by it. His flow was incredible. Then you get into other genres with Miles Davis and Musiq Soulchild. Living in Miami will also have you listening to some Latin and EDM as well. I really listen to a little bit of everything. Even like one or half of one country song that I can remember.
I’m a big Marvel fan so I’m at the premieres of most Marvel movies. Pretty much all of Denzel’s films. He has an incredible range. My favorite though is a film called City of God. Shottas gets an honorable mention.
This is just spectacular Emeka! Thank you for sharing so much about yourself and for giving us such critical advice towards reaching personal success and well-being! I’m certain that many people will take your words to heart and will apply them to their own lives! Congratulations on all your achievements thus far, especially matching into Emergency Medicine and graduating with both your MD and MPH from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine!
Posted on May 9th, 2017