Hometown: Teaneck, NJ
Name of Undergraduate Institution: Temple University
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Honors Program, Major – Biology, Minor – Psychology
Name of Graduate School: Rutgers Business School
Name of Medical School: Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Favorite Quote: “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.”
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org (always willing to answer questions!)
Blog: Saber & A Stethoscope
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am currently between my 3rd and 4th year of medical school completing a research year in the Sports Medicine division of Orthopedic Surgery. Before my 3rd year of medical school, I had plans of becoming a primary care sports medicine physician. However, after I completed the ortho elective of my surgery rotation I knew surgery was my calling. Every day I came home with a new story and fiery passion I just couldn’t ignore. As a professional athlete, I knew once I was finished fencing I wanted to spend my career working with other athletes. I never thought surgery would appeal to me, mainly because I had never been exposed to the field. The small number of women and minorities in the orthopedics was initially intimidating. However, I quickly realized it would be foolish to let that stop me from working in a field I was obviously passionate about.
If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?
Find a mentor!!! I wrote a blog post called “What I Wish I Knew Before Medical School” and the first thing I would advise my younger self is to find a mentor who can guide me through the entire process. I had no idea what to expect at every step, including once I got into med school, and constantly felt I was one step behind my classmates. Life is much easier when you can have an older figure explain everything to you, step by step.
What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?
Similar to other stories I’ve heard, I was encouraged to have a back-up plan to medical school because my GPA and MCAT score were slightly below average. However, I’ve wanted to be a doctor since childhood and there was no other plan. I also knew (or hoped rather) medical school admissions directors would understand that as a Division I NCAA athlete and All-American, my time in college was not solely dedicated to pre-medical studies. I decided to do the best I could in classes and on standardized tests, apply, and hope my passion shined through in my application and interviews.
Do you have another professional degree? If so, how has it impacted you?
I decided to get a dual degree, MD/MBA, and attend business school between 2nd and 3rd year of medical school. Originally, I wanted the knowledge of owning and running a business in the event I later became involved in a group practice. However, since I’ve been in business school it has helped my personal finances tremendously. I have a better understanding of investing and saving for my future, which I would have waited to do until starting residency. I also can tell the difference between planning for the future between myself and my peers. I believe business knowledge is crucial for everyone to have, regardless of whether you have an MBA or not.
Did you take some time off before medical school? If so, what did you do during that time?
I did not take any time off between college and medical school and I would definitely advise students to take some time off. I describe medical school and residency like entering an engagement/marriage. It’s a huge long-term commitment and really hard to stay disciplined in your young 20s when your non-medical friends are building careers and having more fun with their free time. Most traditional medical students I’ve spoken to wish they took time off between college and medical school to travel and have a little fun before medical school.
Do you have any passions outside of school? If so, what are they?
Outside of school, I am a nationally and internationally ranked fencer for Team USA. I began fencing in high school, much later than my colleagues and did not start competing seriously until I went to college. My senior year in college was my best season and I decided I would be silly to stop fencing before I reached my peak. I started medical school and began competing internationally simultaneously. I was an alternate to the 2016 Olympics, a 2016 U.S. national champion and I am an Olympic hopeful for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
In the little spare time I have left, I really enjoy blogging! I just started a blog a year ago and it’s great to have a forum to write about experiences I have in the hospital or when I’m traveling.
What were some of your involvements in college? Have those involvements helped you in any way in medical school?
In college I was a member/team captain of our Division I fencing team, a peer mentor in the honors programs, a TA for freshman seminar for athletes, a member of Temple’s social planning group, and a research assistant in a kinesiology lab. From my experience, it’s really important to be different when you’re applying to medical schools. The admissions office sees thousands of the same application. Most people have the same major, similar GPAs and standardized test scores. Extracurricular activities provide the opportunity to stand out. At the time I hated the idea of basic science research, so I looked for clinical-based research to interact with more patients. Because I found something I actually enjoyed, I was able to create my own projects which gave me plenty to talk about on interviews. My other activities also generated interest from interviewers who actually remembered me when I began attending school. Being involvement in multiple activities has definitely helped with time management skills and relieving stress. Medical school is extremely stressful and it’s imperative to have an activity/club/hobby to help you walk away from studying.
This is fantastic Kamali! Thank you for sharing all of this great information and advice with us! It truly is remarkable how you’ve been able to integrate all of your interests into a very successful and fulfilling life thus far. You’re an inspiration to many and I’m 100% positive that you’ll continue to inspire many with this feature and in the future! Keep on cutting through the competition and pressing towards your ultimate life goals!
Posted on March 22nd, 2018