From student doctor to doctor doctor… I woke up. It was 4am. I struggled to fall back asleep. My mind was racing. I was anxious. Too much adrenaline in my system. I guess that’s the reason I couldn’t fall asleep. In a few hours I was going to find out where I would be spending the next three years of my career as an internal medicine physician. I thought about where I started: A confused pre-med student in college with a GPA lower than the average pre-med applicant. MCAT scores barely reaching average, and advisors advising me towards a different path. I fast forward to the present. I am now a fourth year graduating medical student preparing to start my first year as an intern at a top ten national medical residency program. How ‘bout’ that! Being a minority pre-med/medical student comes with its difficulties, but life experiences have thought me how to “gracefully” overcome. Because you’re black…. How many of you have heard this saying? You got in because you’re black, Asian, Hispanic, or *insert any other minority ethnicity here*. How many of you have actually begun to believe it? I am ashamed to say that I was one of the many, or hopefully few pre-med students who actually believed my chances to get into medical school increased due to my ethnicity. Wow! How naïve was I. In reality that very same mentality hindered me from being accepted into medical school the first time I applied. How? Well, I limited myself. I banked on my minority status more than I did my merit, and it backfired. So, trust and believe, as a minority student if you gain acceptance into any professional school you did so because of merit alone! No! Because I’m Intelligent… As a minority student I at times would feel like my classmates believed I didn’t have to work as hard as they did to get into medical school, or even to match to a decent residency program. However, in reality as a minority student you often have to work twice, or even three times as hard as everyone else to achieve the same accomplishments. You stayed up late hours to study. You attended office hours to make sure you understood the topics perfectly. You put your all into those exams to come out on top. You made it this far and you did so because you are intelligent! No! Because I’m hardworking… In the wise words of one of the most iconic female R&B singers of all time, “If at first you don’t succeed….” I’m sure you know the rest. I have never tackled a problem I felt I could not overcome. This is because other than God, there is no one in this universe that believes in me more than I believe in myself. I applied to medical school twice, and would have applied a third or fourth time because I knew this was where I belonged. As a minority student I knew certain eyes would be on me in medical school. Waiting for me to “mess up” and prove the few right that I was only here because I was “black”. But I worked my but off just like everyone else. Nothing was given to me. I’ve earned everything I have ever received. “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work” – Booker T. Washington
And now I’m “Booked and Busy” *Checks calendar* Looks like I will not be attending this year’s spring break or Christmas overseas trips. I’ll be interning! As I look back on these past 4 years in medical school, I can definitely say it has definitely been worth the stress, the tears, the laughter, and relationships. In professional school you endure what seems as the weight of the world on your shoulders. You learn to juggle family relationships and school assignments that must get done. You learn to schedule phone conversations with your high school and college friends so they know you are still alive and do very much miss them. For me medical school definitely took an army of my friends, family and school administrators to see that I made it through. Starting July 1styour girl will be booked, sleep deprived, and busy! And so, I leave you with these powerful jewels I have learned along the way…
o Learn how to motivate yourself because there may not be anyone there to motivate you.
o Keep your eyes on the goal. Distractions are easy. Remaining focused is challenging.
o You are smart, you are kind, you are important.
o Stay prayed up. God is your biggest supporter. The devil loves to deprive you of what God has already promised.
o Reach out and ALWAYS ask for help. The most successful individuals are successful because they are aware of their limitations.
o NETWORK. Networking is one of the most power tools you can possess to get to where you want to go. I truly believe it is one of the reasons I made it to medical school.
o Patience is a virtue for a reason. God didn’t build the universe in one day, so don’t expect all your goals to be fulfilled instantly. Things take time.
o Never let people or bad situations dissuade you from your goals. Your victory has already been preordained.
Do you believe your ethnicity gives you an advantage or disadvantage in gaining acceptance into professional school?
My name is Kristeen Onyirioha and I am an Internal Medicine Resident at UTSW.. I am a proud Houstonian Nigerian who loves learning new hobbies through YouTube. YouTube has taught me how to sew clothing, be a naturalista, and most recently be a videographer and a photographer.