Hometown: Boynton Beach, FL (Haitian-American)
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of South Florida
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Chemistry Major
Name of Medical School: Florida State University College of Medicine
Residency Program: Columbia University Harkness Eye Institute
Contact Info: Joah.firstname.lastname@example.org
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
Resident Intern, Aventura Hospital, Aventura, FL.
My pursuit of medicine has proven to be a true privilege. With great intentionality, I sought opportunities to work along physicians from diverse specialities. Ophthalmology provides a unique patient population, an opportunity for international/national service and attractive admixture of surgical and medical management.
If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell him?
Strive for the best, not just your best. Seek induction into honor societies. So what if your school is Pass/Fail…work to get an outstanding score, not because drawing out the brachial plexus w/ precision has high relevance to your future but because you want to establish a pattern of excellence. Caveat, don’t make success an idol. Your grades, evaluations, and assessments having no bearing on your value as a man or woman. This should be a joyous process, not anxiety-filled.
What advice would you give to a medical student looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Mentorship is vital. Create a diverse team of individuals that care for your holistic well-being. While it’s important to find a few mentors within the field you are specifically pursuing, don’t miss out on a mentor who genuinely cares that happens to be in another field. A diversity of counsel produces wisdom. Sadly, all mentors are not created equal… some can be detrimental. This is why plurality is important.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
Finances. Coming from a single-parent household that brought in 24k a year comes along with its unique challenges. Things that help during Med school: Budgeting. Living in scholarship housing for a year. Learning to say “no, not this time.” If possible, live with family. Maxed out on all loans…however, I was able to graduate Med school w/ only 190k of debt. It’s great to go to a prestigious program but know it will come with a prestigious price tag. However, don’t let cost be a major determinant…you will be a doctor…you will eventually have the inflow to match your debt while still living well.
What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to residency?
Of course apply early, and triple check your application for grammar and syntax. A theme and great flow in your personal statement (PS) is a plus, as well as having multiple individuals review your PS, having your PS completed or near completed prior to requesting letters of recommendation (LORs) (you don’t know your LOR writers to question your motivation or preparedness), and seeking LOR writers early.
Be sure to maximize resources at your home institution. If your program lacks the particular specialty department you’re pursuing, ask another nearby program to sponsor you…go through the proper channels though. Be sensible in the number of programs you apply to, balancing cost vs benefit. Applying to more programs doesn’t always translate to more interviews.
Resist geographic bias.
Foster relationships w/ mentors.
Establish a “network tree”, meaning find out where your mentors have the strongest connections. Learn about those programs and see if any can be a great fit. Essentially, you have to be targeted when asking mentors to reach out for you. It’s very hard for faculty to blindly call a program in support of your application.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
I completed an ocular pathology/ophthalmic research year. It provided amazing learning opportunities, an abundant number of mentors, and a great foundation in my desired specialty.
What gives you the greatest motivation to get up every day to go to work?
Faith. My faith in Christ keeps me motivated. God’s grace has overwhelmed my undeserving heart. While far from being worthy, I was brought near through grace to be a conduit of that same grace to others.
How do you manage to balance your work life and your romantic relationship?
I was in a serious 3-year relationship in Med school. I learned a lot about myself and how to be selfless. It was very difficult to balance it all….prioritizing is key. Medicine is important but love is of greater importance. If she/he is the one, do what needs to be done. Or you may live with regret.
Being with someone that actively tries to outdo you in serving is a rare find, but clutch.
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 used to regularly write and exercise. I had a deep passion for theology. Unfortunately, I stopped writing daily and reading material outside of medicine including theological text. And I now exercise sporadically. I learned to find passions that didn’t require daily maintenance, with one being traveling. For a period of time, I can escape, leave stresses behind and enjoy the moment. Although, frequently unsuccessful, I attempt to build my relationship with God through daily devotion.
What do you like to do for fun?
Music, searching for cheap flights, binging on shows, sampling alcoholic beverages, spending money on good food, and sleep.
In an alternate universe, what career do you think you would be in right now if healthcare wasn’t an option for you?
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Favorite books? Shows? Movies?
Books: Romans, Pursuit of Happyness, Maniac Magee
Music: Kodak Black, The Weeknd, Ratata, Lecrae, Hillsong, John Legend, any form of Konpa
Movies: Nacho Libre, Coming to America, Ali
Thank you for taking the time to share your advice and experiences with us Joah, you are really appreciated! Your helpful suggestions will definitely be noted by those who read this feature! Best of luck to you as you continue your residency in Ophthalmology!
Posted on January 3rd, 2018