Hometown: Homewood, Illinois
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Major/Minor in College: Finance Major/Management Minor; Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance/Management
Name of Medical School: Indiana University School of Medicine
Favorite Quote: “Try not. Do or do not.” – Yoda
Facebook: Jason Powell
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently a fourth-year medical student studying for Step 2 and getting ready to apply for residency programs. I initially came to medical school at the age of 34 with the hopes of eventually becoming an administrator within a medical system that services underserved communities. I initially started medical school wanting to specialize in Emergency Medicine, but have since decided to pursue Trauma Surgery. Prior to attending medical school, I worked for my family’s Real Estate business for a number of years. From working in my parents’ company to working for myself, I had an array of experiences in real estate including buying and selling properties and working as a broker. I also worked as a consultant for nonprofits and small businesses.
I started my first corporation when I was 18 and have owned, operated and managed four corporations. Although I was comfortable and happy with that lifestyle, I ultimately found that it wasn’t fulfilling to me. I wanted to be able to find something that I had a passion for, which led me to pursuing a career in medicine. My grandmother once told me, “As long as you love what you’re doing as a career, you’ll never feel like you’re working.” So with that in mind, I decided to take the necessary pre-requisites for entry into medical school along with the MCAT, and went through the application process that ultimately led me to the Indiana University School of Medicine!
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?
If you’re familiar with the Nigerian rapper, Burna Boy, you may know that he has this song called “Pree Me”, where he talks about having a dream that someone gave him a time machine. When given the opportunity to travel to the past to change his life, he decided that he wouldn’t change anything in his life because everything he’s gone through made him the person he is today. I share that exact same philosophy. If I were given the chance to talk to my college freshman self, I would tell him to “do you” and would refrain from giving him any further advice. I wouldn’t want to change the nature of my past because I truly believe that everything I’ve gone through (the good, bad and ugly) was meant to be and, in the long run, made me the man I am today. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
The biggest piece of advice that I would give to anyone looking to pursue medicine would be to make sure that you have a passion for this field and for helping heal people. You have to REALLY want to do this and you know you’re in a good place. It should be VERY hard for you to imagine yourself doing any other career than this. Another piece of advice I would give is to NEVER GIVE UP. There are going to be many bumps in the road, and things will not always go your way. For example, I had to take the MCAT twice and I know several people who had to take the MCAT multiple times. I was not successful in my first attempt at gaining admission to medical school as well. I know many individuals who have had similar or even worse struggles with testing and admission. It’s not an easy road, but it’s one that pays amazing dividends as you advance in the field of medicine!
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
Honestly, I have a number of failures that I’ve had to overcome throughout my lifetime. I’ve had a pretty interesting life so far full of ups and downs, and I definitely wasn’t successful in everything the first time around. Having to bounce back from failures is a challenge that I’ve repeatedly come across again and again. For example, I’ve lost some international fights as a Tae Kwon Do fighter. There is one international fight that sticks out to me specifically, where I lost to a fighter from the Puerto Rican National team in front of my girlfriend, my family and friends. It was a bruising defeat, but I couldn’t let it kill my self-confidence. I managed to bounce back from that and continue pressing on with what I loved doing.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
I have an MBA in Finance/Management that has worked to open numerous opportunities for me. With this degree, I have been granted the opportunity to shadow a Chief Operating Officer of a hospital, and I believe that it helped me acquire my position on the Students Promotion Committee at my school. In addition, the material I learned while pursuing my MBA helped me in many ways while I served as the National Treasurer of the SNMA, and is currently assisting me now as I serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the organization. Overall, my MBA has helped me in life in general. I find it easier to maintain finances, to predict how the economy will fluctuate, and it gives me a good amount of credibility in the business world.
Do you have any passions outside of school? If so, what are they?
I love to participate in community service whenever I get the opportunity to do so. One of the service projects that I have worked with, Children of Abraham, is an organization that sorts medical supplies and ships them to various destinations around the world. I also love playing the guitar, participating in the Student National Medical Association on all levels (local, regional, & national), and watching Netflix whenever I get the chance to.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of medical school? The easiest part?
To me, the most challenging part of medical school is having to work through and study the vast amount of information that you need to know. It’s a challenge to not only discover, but also understand the high-yield material that is necessary to excel. It’s very tempting to want to read everything, but it’s also next to impossible to do so…so you have to be able to correctly pick out the relevant information for the exams and comprehend that selected material. It’s definitely a process that takes practice!
I feel that the easiest part of medical school is interacting with patient and being able to take care of them. I naturally like talking to people and I genuinely enjoy good conversations, so having to talk to patient really isn’t stressful at all to me!
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of medical school?
I typically hang out with friends, especially those who are going through the same struggle as me. Being able to hang out with them, especially with people who look like me and are having the similar experiences that I’m having, gets me through the stresses that come with this rigorous path.
What are some of your current involvements in medical school?
I’m currently the class rep for my campus at school (IUSM has nine campuses), I serve on the Student Promotions Committee at my institution and I am also the class president. In addition, I am the 2017-2018 Chair of the National SNMA. I’ve been involved in nonprofits such as “Kicks 4 The City” and the Guide Right organization, and I’m a national paid member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
This is really dope Jason! You have such a unique perspective on what it means to follow your passion and we are sincerely appreciative of the fact that you took the time out of your tight schedule to share some of your acquired knowledge with us! You're going to become an amazing doctor who will be able to achieve in whatever endeavor you wish! Thanks a ton and best of luck to you as you continue to work towards your goals!
Posted on July 26th, 2017