This month’s feature is of Ajibike Lapite, a fourth year medical student from America who is studying at the Tulane University School of Medicine.
What made you want to pursue medicine?
My path to medicine was a bit unconventional in regards to what motivated me to pursue a career in this field. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to write. At times I wanted to be a novelist; at other times I wanted to be a poet. In high school, I was fairly certain I would be a journalist. I studied The New York Times and found myself drawn to articles that highlighted disparity (abroad and in the United States). This sparked an interest in public health, global health, and narrative medicine. In time I found myself not wanting to read about the patientphysician dynamic but to be a participant in this dynamic.
How was the process of applying? (Any tips)
Applying to medical school was extremely anxiety-inducing. Now that I’m in the application and interview stage for residency, I find myself reflecting on the medical school application process. My tips are threefold:
1. Find your why: there will be many times when you will doubt the process and entertain other career options; find why you are interested in medicine and think back to this motivation when times get rough.
2. Stay organized: it’s hard to balance school + work with the stress of working on applications; stay organized so that you can stay sane.
3. Share your work: as personal as personal statements are, have your closest friends take a peek. They’ll have a good sense if your statement is an accurate reflection of who you are.
What is your medical school like?
Tulane is a medical school in the heart of New Orleans. The city is extremely vibrant and laid back and I think the same can be said about the medical school. The medical school is coupled with a school of public health and tropical medicine and so there is a large emphasis on global health work – something that drew me to this program!
Do you have any plans for the future?
Right now I’m in the midst of applying for residency while I finish up my fourth year of my MD/MPH program. Ultimately, I want to have a career that allows me to play a role in healthcare advocacy (perhaps some global health work). I’m extremely interested in hematology/oncology as a sub-specialty of paediatrics.
What do you think are the best and worst aspects of studying medicine in America?
The best part of studying medicine in America is honestly being able to learn and practice medicine in a setting where essentially all tests and treatments are available in a timely setting. The worst part…is definitely the cost.
Any last comments/tips for future medical students?
Medical school is an adjustment for multiple reasons:
1) self-directed studies
2) loss of autonomy.
Although there are lectures and a suggested curriculum, you have a lot of flexibility in regard to what resources you use in order to study. There are a lot of options. It’s extremely challenging to decide how you’re going to study and it’s extremely challenging to feel confident in your decision when you hear about how other people are navigating the workload. 1: figure out the most efficient way for you to tackle your work, 2: pick a few resources and don’t deviate (unless you are struggling), 3: have a daily study routine – discipline is more reliable than motivation, and 4: be patient with yourself, it takes time to find a system that works. The transition from the classroom to the wards is another challenge. You lose quite a bit of autonomy. Your sleep schedule is dictated by what time you are expected in the hospital. Your study schedule is impacted by your work hours. It can be extremely overwhelming. The way I coped with this was to have three things I wanted to make sure I did every week, so that I felt some control in my life: 1: weekly mass, 2: weekly hang-out with one of my friends, and 3: cooking a “fancy” dinner on Saturday or Sunday.
Overall, it’s so important to remember that imperfection is normal. This field is so focused on perfection and improvement. That is not bad in and of itself, but the hyper-focus on perfection can be damaging. It’s okay to admit that you are stressed. It is okay to admit that you are overwhelmed. It is okay to not be perfect. Find the people who build you up when you feel like quitting – those days will come, and you’ll be grateful for their support.
You can find Aji on the following social media accounts:
- @stilettosplusstethoscopes (Instagram)
- @ajibikelapite (Twitter)
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