Child of God/Ghanaian American Woman/Med Student
I am a Ghanaian American woman. Those three words are at the core of what make up my identity. My ethnicity has played a large part in my desire to learn about other cultures. More importantly, it has also been a driving force in my academic career as I want to make my people proud, and also want to help those of the diaspora and other people of color. Growing up, I was always proud to be Ghanaian despite what was portrayed on television and some people’s ignorance. Nonetheless, I didn’t feel American enough or Ghanaian enough which made it hard to find my identity. Once I started college and chose to major in African American studies, I not only learned more about Black history and the diaspora but I also became more comfortable in myself and accepting of my identity.
Despite it taking time for me to be comfortable with myself and my identity, I have a calming presence that puts others at ease. I make people feel comfortable to be themselves and share information with me. I’ve found this to be a big help as I’ve gone through clinical rotations in medical school so far, and of course with family and friends. When speaking to patients, my goal is to build rapport so they feel more comfortable sharing personal information pertinent to providing appropriate care for them. For example, I helped take care of a young Black girl who was experiencing a Lupus crisis. She was very quiet with the medical team and answered in short sentences. I was assigned to follow her throughout her hospital stay (4 days this time). Over time, she shared with me information that she hadn’t told the physicians with whom I was working, such as the fact that she hadn’t been taking medication since her last hospitalization because she couldn’t afford it. If I hadn’t gone in to regularly check on her, building a relationship as if we were friends, she may not have told me. And without knowing this information, we would not have been able to get a social worker involved to help her resolve this medication issue.
I’m also resilient and persistent which has allowed me to get back up from many a fall, personally and academically. I had to take the MCAT (the test required to get into medical school) twice in order to get a better score, and have taken some tests while in medical school twice. Each time, I questioned my ability, intelligence, and deservedness of being in this position. Though difficult each time, I prayed and was reminded that a score does not mean I’m not worthy. Instead, I’ve learned that I need extra help to be academically successful…and that’s okay. Also, when I think of my parents and the work ethic they had when immigrating from Ghana in their early twenties, I remind myself that if they were able to succeed in those circumstances I can too.
Over the years, I’ve learned to be more vulnerable and willing to share my struggles with other people. It’s taken a few years of therapy to get to this point. But the moment I recognized my power was when I started realizing that my thought process changed regarding decision making, forgiveness for others and myself, and overall saw a change in my confidence and trust in myself. My confidence has been largely attributed to me realizing just how strong I am. My strength comes from past experiences, reminding myself that I have to be my best self for my future patients as a physician, and lots of prayer (reminding myself who I am and whose I am).
My best self can only occur when I continuously work on overcoming imposter syndrome and my fear of failing. They have been quite anxiety inducing and at times paralyzing. But I realize that if I continue to give into them, I won’t accomplish what God has put me here to do.
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