I can see people shaking their heads and talking to one another about how I’m making the worst decision of my life. The key words are “my life” and until you feel what I felt internally, you’ll never understand. I made a decision not many would have, but I’m happy about it! Ok ok…on to the boring story!
Yes, I went through a lot to get accepted into medical school. I took the MCAT three times to see my score increase by two points. TWO points. I felt as if I did everything right at the time but as I look back, I didn’t put my all into studying and my scores reflected that.
We will start with middle school, yeah I know…I went back to the stone age but bear with me. I attended Northwest Middle School where I was enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program (program for smart students but we rode the short bus). My dream was to become a lawyer. I would lock myself in the room and hold full debates with my stuffed animals. I “graduated” from middle school as Salutatorian. I still have something against the Valedictorian..jk! Moving on..I joined the debate team in high school and I loved it. I knew that there was more to becoming a lawyer and this was the beginning. There was a major plot twist when I was told my grandfather passed. I didn’t understand how he died or why. I had never lost anyone close to me before.He had Parkinson’s disease but he didn’t die from the disease. I had no idea what Parkinson’s was and after doing research I changed my goal from becoming a lawyer to becoming a Neuro-pharmacologist as well as participating in Parkinson’s research. I “graduated” high school in the top five percent of my class…and yes, I still stare the people who were 1-4 down when I see them. Lol! Anyway, I applied to Ole Miss pharmacy program and they accepted me. BUT they weren’t paying for anything because I only had a 25 on my ACT. Basically, they told me that my “minimal” ACT score could get me a full scholarship at “another” institution. I guess they meant a HBCU. Well, they were right. I applied to Alcorn State University (GO Braves!) two months before school began and they offered me a full academic scholarship! It wasn’t my first choice of schools, but I would go anywhere to NOT have to attend Jackson State. No shade!
While in college, I was a bookworm. I regret that. If you’re reading this and you are in college, GO HAVE FUN! Well, not too much fun, but get to know people and make bonds! The bonds you make now will probably last a lifetime! I chose to work my butt off because I knew I wanted to become something in life. I wanted to do more than my parents or family did. I wanted to make them proud. While at Alcorn, I met the sweetest Alpha ever! Don’t get too happy, he was a pre-professional guidance counselor! This was the beginning of me being molded into a “future medical doctor”. I expressed my goals with the counselors and they did what they were suppose to. They got me internshipssss! Except they were medical/dental internships and I wasn’t interested in either. Most of my college friends were either biology or chemistry majors, all wanting to become doctors. There was one who wanted to do pharmacy as well. There weren’t many pharmacy internships available to choose from and they made becoming a doctor sound fascinating so I applied to a few medical internships and chose to attend a pre-bac program at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. I liked it. They helped us write personal statements, introduced us to life as a medical student/physician, painted it with glitter, and I fell into the trap of going after a dream that wasn’t mine. BUT since I “liked” it sooooo much, I decided to focus my college career on becoming a physician. I knew my parents didn’t have the money to get me there so I came up with a game plan. (XOXO) I knew what to do to get into medical school but somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered if any of it was genuine. I began shadowing physicians and I applied to a rural scholarship program. They offered me $30,000 a year IF I practiced in a rural area and IF I made a certain MCAT score. I was in school in a rural area, so how hard could working in one be? I visited the hospital (or what they called a hospital) and was saddened. There was one physician but no specialists. I’m a control freak and sucker for things like that so I just haaadddd to do something about it. I didn’t want to work in a rural area but after seeing the lack of medical care people were getting, I accepted the contract through the scholarship program. Initially it was all about the scholarship but after that experience, it was about the people. Rural place to work? Check! MCAT score? Well…hmmm… Anyway, I applied to medical school expecting a miracle and they told me to increase my score by TWO points to get the scholarship but after retaking the test a second time (I took it three times total), it stayed the same. I graduated from college (early) with a 3.9 GPA. I had no clue what to do from there. I didn’t want to give up on my new “dream” so I applied to a Master of Medical Science program in Indiana. A Mississippi girl leaving the nest to pursue her goal. My family was proud, at least for a few months. I tend to give them a few months of happiness and snatch it away. To make a long story short, I was failing. I retook the MCAT and got the score I needed for the rural scholarship BUT the offer had expired. I FINALLY got the score to get $30,000 for medical school and it EXPIRED? Milk expires..not money! Geez. Lol, while I’m venting ..I forgot to mention that I had gotten married in undergrad AND divorced before moving to Indiana but anyway, that’s no excuse for my failure. I decided to withdraw from the masters program and the week I withdrew, St. George’s University medical school sent me an acceptance email. I knew Jesus performed miracles but this was better than having water turned into wine! The only problem was that it was in the Caribbean. I take that back, it wasn’t a problem. I had always dreamed of leaving the country and I was willing to do whatever it took to fulfill “my dream”. If I have my mind set to do something, it WILL get done, even if I have to lose a toe in the process. I won’t go into the details of medical school. I’ll create another blog because it deserves its own spot light…or black room with no windows or doors, just books.
But during my first year, I questioned if becoming a physician was really what I wanted to do. Maybe it’s the stress of school causing me to doubt myself, right? I knew that my personal statement was full of crap, half of the words weren’t mine, I only chose this path because my friends did, and I couldn’t come up with a good reason as to why I wanted to do this besides my shadowing experiences, the rural hospital visit, and that I wanted to make a difference which was so cliché. Time passed and I was in my second year of school with the same thoughts. I thought maybe God wanted me here since He allowed me to pass the same courses I failed in the masters program. I felt as if I was working hard towards a dream that wasn’t mine but I didn’t want to quit because so many people were counting on me AND I had taken out so many loans, but I was miserable. When my fourth term (still second year) started and we had more patient encounters (of course they weren’t actual patients), I felt the same feeling I did when I first decided to go this route and it was exciting but it wasn’t in my heart. It’s kind of like knowing you don’t want to be in a relationship but he gives you Chipotle everyday so you stay. Haha, not quite but I was torn between what made me feel good and what I really wanted. I knew I didn’t want the life of a physician. I didn’t want the constant stress and demand. It was fun acting like a physician in clinical skills but did I want to do this in reality? No. I realized that “medicine is a lifestyle and not just a process that will end after school has ended.”
I know that having a medical degree can lead me to a wide range of career choices and that practicing medicine isn’t the only option with a medical degree. I know, I know!
I was doing well in my second year of medical school. Yes, it was demanding but that’s not why I left. I wouldn’t mind working hard for something that I truly want but this wasn’t what I wanted. I made myself want it just to make my family proud, please people, and call myself a doctor but I was soooo unhappy. I didn’t cry everyday because of the work load (well some days) but I cried mostly because I knew I was going where I didn’t want to. It wasn’t fair to the people who really wanted it and it wouldn’t have been fair to the patients. Dr. Hatch. Yea, it has a ring to it…so did my finger but we see how that worked out. No shade!
I lost a close friend while in medical school. He passed due to a heart attack. He worked so hard to get into medical school, he worked even harder during school. But he passed before he even got a chance to enjoy it, to enjoy life. I think about him daily and I don’t want to spend my years doing something that I’m not passionate about.
I have had to talk two friends out of committing suicide because they felt as if they were stuck in this career and didn’t want to let their families down since they had invested so much in them. I look back and think, that could have been me. I thank God for a supporting family. I feel like I’ve disappointed them again , but I would have let myself down if I would have stayed.
There will be people pressuring you to pursue careers, goals, and dreams that you CAN succeed in, that you CAN DO but that isn’t yours! I could have become a physician and I could have spent the rest of my life unhappy as well, but I was bold enough to face the facts and finally live my life and do what makes me happy. Yes, happiness is a mindset and you have to embrace the pains but at least let it be the pains of something you will enjoy doing for the rest of your life.
As my line sister Kristen said, “We’re taking a little something from every part of this journey that will contribute to where we end up. None of it is in vain.”
I wouldn’t trade my two years in medical school. I developed study techniques and gained knowledge that I didn’t have before. I matured mentally as well as spiritually. I now have friends from all over the world. I experienced a new world in Grenada and it made me appreciate life more. I’m not sure if I can find Oil Down back home but I enjoyed my stay on the island. These two years were no walk in the park, but my SGU family made it amazing. I love you guys! 🙂