Janet Nwokolo-Aniekwu

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Name of Undergraduate Institution: Howard University

Major/Minor in College: Biology Major/Chemistry Minor

Name of Medical School: McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center

Favorite Quote: “All that you do, do with your might; things done by halves are never done right.” – R.H. Stoddard

Where are you currently in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this path?

I am currently in my third year of medical school, completing my clinical rotations and will soon be preparing to take USMLE Step 2. I chose to pursue a medical education because I truly love to keep learning new things, both great and small. The field of science is ever-changing, and medicine evolving right along with it. I’m always amazed to see how common medical and surgical practices have grown and morphed over time. This potential for continual learning combined with my desire to serve communities that look like me yet lack compassionate doctors has always made medicine an obvious answer to my passions.

If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?

One thing you can never have too much of is knowledge and understanding. I fully believe I am right where I need to be to have the impact that my life was meant to bring about. That said there are things that, had I known in my undergraduate career, I would have done differently or pursued with a different fire. If I could sit with my younger self, just entering Howard with a solid goal but an unclear vision of how to get to it, I would encourage her that wherever she lacked understanding she should seek to get it. This would lay the foundation for all future endeavors. Whether it be academia, faith, or the many intricacies of life – “…wisdom is the beginning; get wisdom therefore and, above all thy possession, get understanding.” – Proverbs 4:7

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?

First, it is important to believe in yourself with every bit of might you possess. It will not be easy, and there will be many challenges ahead that will attempt to dismantle your confidence, but you must believe you are capable. Then, do the full groundwork to learn about the field that interests you the most. Whatever sector of healthcare you desire to pursue, there is information on how to get there and, more importantly, people already in that field that are willing to help you. Finding and generating connections with these professionals can open doors for you that you never imagined and pay dividends in your future career. Finally, walk by faith. You were created for this; all you need is available to you.

What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?

In undergrad, I had the benefit of a more structured learning schedule and professors that would occasionally make study guides for exams. That is not the case in medical school. My first year, one of the greatest challenges I faced was figuring out what was most pertinent to study and how to structure my time after our daily lectures to achieve the understanding I needed. One thing that further complicated this was that our first semester exams were institution-written and not standardized, so I had to pay particular attention to what each lecturer presented and sift through the knowledge as best I could. This was not easy, but what helped was sharing notes between classmates to combine our knowledge. I would study on my own with all my personal materials, then meet with one or two classmates and study together to fill in the gaps. The concepts I still struggled with thereafter, I took to the specific lecturers or online study materials. This taught me how to conquer my own pace in the fast-paced learning environment of medical school.

What is your favorite thing about medical school?

I love that medical school is a conglomerate of people from all different walks of life with a common goal and passion. You don’t need to be a science major to be admitted into medical school. Dare I say, those who study something entirely unrelated to science or medicine have a unique advantage in that they can draw on distant topics and still find similarities across subjects. I often find that my classmates with unique degrees are those that are able to think the broadest and understand concepts the easiest (though this isn’t to say that science majors cannot do the same). One such example is a close friend of mine that I’ve had since the beginning of medical school. In undergrad, he majored in classical piano and excelled in his degree while still completing all the pre-requisite courses required to be eligible for medical school. I’m still in awe at his ability to understand medical concepts quickly and thoroughly, so much so that he even tutors medical students in the classes beneath us. I appreciate his brainpower and, as singing and playing music is one of my dearest and oldest hobbies, I also appreciate the fact that we can play and enjoy music together. In short, medical school has brought me some phenomenal friends and colleagues that I can fully experience life with.

Thank you for sharing your valuable experiences and fantastic nuggets of wisdom with us Janet, you are very much appreciated! Your words are very inspiring and will serve as a catalyst for those who read your feature! Best of luck to you as you grind out the rest of your medical school years and transition on to your residency training!

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Posted on April 25th, 2021