Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Communication Studies, Minor in Chemistry
Name of Medical School: Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University
Residency Program: Ophthalmology at Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital
Favorite Quote: “Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” — Edmund Lee
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am completing Ophthalmology residency at Brown University and will start private practice in Fayetteville, North Carolina in three months. I was drawn to Ophthalmology because of the ability to diagnose and treat systemic diseases without puncturing the body with a needle. A dilated examination can tell me so much about a person’s general health. Also, there is nothing more miraculous than giving someone back their sense of sight.
If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell her?
Take advantage of every opportunity to nurture your education. No one is going to give you anything; you have to fight for it yourself. Do not let people tell you what you can and cannot do. Make your own path.
What advice would you give to a medical student looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Do not let anyone tell you what you cannot do. The least straight path allows you to learn the most and grow as an individual.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
Matching into a competitive field, such as ophthalmology, where I had elders telling me due to the color of my skin it was not possible. I believed in myself and had the support of my family to create my own opportunities.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to residency?
Work and study harder than your colleagues because unfortunately you will have to work harder to prove yourself. People are waiting for you to make a mistake; do not give them the opportunity to criticize you.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
The day after performing cataract surgery, people come in and are ecstatic about their new vision; the images are more clear and the colors are brighter. It can change a person’s entire demeanor.
What has been your favorite memory so far in your career?
The day after performing my first cataract surgery, the patient came in and read the 20/25 line after being hand motion. The family started to cry and hugged me and thanked me for giving them back their mother.
What do you feel makes your specialty stand out from other specialties?
Ophthalmology has a great balance of clinic and surgery. You can do a variety of surgeries and treat a variety of age groups. The instant gratification is a great feeling.
What gives you the greatest motivation to get up every day to go to work?
Giving back to the community that supported me on my journey to become a doctor. East Carolina University gave me the opportunity to become a physician and a great foundation and education. I want to come home and take care of those who do not have access to the same resources that are in huge metropolitan areas. No one should be blind because they could not access medical care.
How do you manage to balance your work life and your romantic relationship?
It is always a work in progress but I have an amazing husband who understands that my career and giving patients my best is a huge part of me. He knows that he is my world but understands that my job is meaningful and sometimes the hours can be unpredictable. Finding an understanding partner is key! When he and I are together I give him that same focus and dedication.
Do you have any passions outside of treating patients? If so, what are they and how do you find time to pursue these passions?
I’m absolutely passionate about my family, which is why my husband and I are moving back to North Carolina. When I was younger I unfortunately took it for granted that I could get in the car and drive two hours to see my parents. Now that it takes more effort, (i.e. a plane ride, at least 2 days off of work), I see the importance of being near family. We go on a family vacation once a year. Also, I absolutely love music. At the end of the day while wrapping up notes I’ll play music and my mood instantly lifts. You can find a song that fits any emotion you have at that moment.
What do you like to do for fun?
My husband and I love waking up on a beautiful, sunny, Saturday morning to go play tennis and then cool down with a walk around the park. I also enjoy curling up with a good book—mostly mystery or ethics novels. I have a 3 year old lion rabbit named Rue who is a joy to come home to and cuddle with every night.
In an alternate universe, what career do you think you would be in right now if healthcare wasn’t an option for you?
My background is in Communication Studies with a focus on Broadcast. I potentially would have been a reporter or on a local television show. I always admired that television personalities could make a more broader impact on their community.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Favorite books? Shows? Movies?
I am absolutely obsessed with Jazz! I am currently exploring the world of violinists, such as D Sharp and Damien Escobar. I am a huge R&B and pop fan with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Sara Barillas, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, and Usher being some of my favorite artists. I enjoy reading mystery novels, such as those by Dan Brown, William Landay, Gillian Flynn, and Jodi Picoult. I also enjoy reading books before they become motion pictures, such as the Hunger Games and The Divergent series. My husband and I most recently saw “Get Out” and always enjoy the action packed Marvel and DC movies.
Thank you so much taking the time to share yourself with us Jennifer! You are very much appreciated! You are an inspiration to many more people than you may realize, and your ability to restore vision to the visually impaired is such an amazing skill that I’m sure has been cherished by just about all of your patients! Congratulations on being almost done with residency!
Posted on May 17th, 2017