Nina Ngwa Lum, M.D.


Hometown: Douala, Cameroon

Name of Undergraduate Institution(s): University of Buea, Cameroon/St. Martinus University, Curacao Netherland Antilles

Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Microbiology/Pre-Med

Name of Medical School: University of Sint Eustatius School of Medicine, Netherlands Antilles

Residency and/or Fellowship: Family Medicine Program – University of Kentucky Rural Track/St. Claire Regional Medical Center

Favorite Quote: Feel the fear, do it anyways.

Contact Info:

Additional Links:

Blog: NINOTSWALK ; The Encouraging Doc

IG: @drninalum

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

I am a Hospitalist (occasionally Nocturnist) practicing with an Internal Medicine inpatient group in London, Kentucky. I’m trained in Family Medicine, graduating from residency in 2015. I chose family medicine because it allows me to be involved in all the different specialties of medicine without formally training in them. It offers variety.

If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st year postgraduate self, what would you tell her?

Prepare yourself for success from the start. Pick a major in college that will favor your medical career.  Start early. Inform yourself on all the medical specialties and sub-specialties available and learn about what it takes to get there by talking to physicians who are in the field before making a decision on what to specialize in.

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

Know what you want, write it out and then ensure that you go for it. Do not give up. Talk to people who are in the specialty of your choice, and find a mentor. Shadow as many physicians as you can, especially those you admire. Always ask for help. Study hard. Get an accountability partner who has similar goals and help each other grow forward.

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

Financial problems and challenges with being a foreign & international medical graduate. The usual struggles with studying in the USA as a non-immigrant on a study visa with limited access to sources of income. I couldn’t work my way through school or afford the comforts, and sometimes necessities, of life that could’ve facilitated the studying process. There are unfortunately residency programs that do not support visa applicants or consider foreign medical graduates into residency.

Finances: a family member who is also a US citizen co-signed a private student loan with me, facilitating the process. My parents supported a majority of my tuition. I qualified for tuition deduction for working in the medical library at my Caribbean medical school.  I was also awarded a partial scholarship for maintaining a GPA >3.5 each semester.

As for the residency application process, I looked for programs that ONLY supported the visa I was going to be eligible for. I focused on programs with previous foreign medical graduates. I diversified my search and did not limit myself to certain geographic locations hence why I ended up in Kentucky but still achieved my dreams.

What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to residency?

Review your personal statement several times; be very specific about who you are and how you will be the best applicant into that program. Have your mentors proofread your personal statement. Research the programs thoroughly; if possible do an AI (Acting Internship) rotation with them or schedule a visit. Show and express direct interest in your top 3 programs.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I feel blessed when I admit a critically ill patient and after a few days (or weeks) I see them leave the hospital a lot better than when they arrived. The reward is instantaneous. I also love patient education as this helps people improve their lives after discharge and keeps them out of the hospital longer. Secondary or even primary prevention at its finest!

Can you please walk us through a typical workday?

I get to the hospital at 8 am, drop off my personal items at the office, and pick up my list for the day and head to the floor. The “list” is a list of names of patients whom I will directly offer medical care to on a given day.  In simple terms, I am the hospital physician for everyone on my list.  I work 12 hour shifts for 7 days in a row and I am off for 7 days and the cycle is repeated till the end of the year. I typically start rounds in the ICU, seeing the most critical patients, discussing with the sub-specialists involved in their care and create a plan of care. From there I move to the step-down/Progressive care unit and finally the med-surg unit. Between patients on rounds I may go to the ER to admit or do consults on new or post-op patients. A few months out of the year, I also act as a community-based preceptor for students from LMU doing Internal Medicine Clerkships. On most days I leave the hospital at 8pm, but I also only work half the year (full time hours) for full time pay.

How do you manage to balance your work life and your romantic relationship (and family life, if applicable)?

I work half the month and I am currently single and without children but I still maintain a vibrant social life by traveling, visiting new places and enjoying new experiences.

Do you have any passions outside of treating patients? If so, what are they and how do you find time to pursue these passions?

Mentoring, reading, traveling, exploring, relaxing on the beach, music, beauty & fashion.

Thank you so much for sharing some aspects of your unique and fascinating journey with us Dr. Lum! It is very much appreciated! Your golden nuggets of advice will also greatly help many of the individuals who read this feature! Overall, I believe that it is very important for people to realize that there are many different ways to becoming not only a physician but any health professional in general!

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Posted on February 13th, 2017

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