“What fiyu cyaan bi unfiyu” (old Jamaican saying). Translation: What is meant for you will be yours.

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“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

When God blessed me with the opportunity to enter medical school, I entered with tunnel vision on becoming either a plastic surgeon or neurosurgeon (my childhood dream after deciding that Little House on the Prairie life probably wouldn’t cut it).  I mean what little child reading Ben Carson’s story doesn’t want to be a surgeon? For years I wrote essays for school about the complexity of the brain because nothing else excited me.  I didn’t want to be open! This is what I had planned to do for God, and this is what I would do.  I planned on being that woman who came into medical school with a plan, and left accomplishing that same plan.  I wanted to be set and have no surprises.

But then there was that little voice. You know the one that tells you to keep your options open although you already have a plan?  While on the short clinical rotations experiences during first and second year, treacherous thoughts came into my head.  Why was I beginning to find the beauty in other fields of medicine? How could this be possible? This was NOT supposed to happen to me:

I was not supposed to melt over the children in the pediatric wing, want to cry over the stories of the kids in the psych ward, or feel helpless beside the old woman with 5 fatal diagnoses.  I wasn’t supposed to have fun while playing “video games” on robotic surgery at the OB/GYN interest meeting.  I wasn’t supposed to laugh with the internal medicine doctor and an old war veteran at the V.A. hospital, or watch with interest in the neurology clinic as a mother with occipital neuralgia received injections.  I was not supposed to feel excited as the physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors talked about their plans to make a fake downtown city to help their PT patients acclimate back into society.

I was not supposed to enjoy talking with the old couple at the ophthalmology clinic about how sight isn’t really appreciated until it’s gone, nor was I supposed to be fascinated as I stared into the eye of a man who had received cataract surgery.  I really was not supposed to be interested as I watched a doctor calm the fears of a teenager braving a long needle into her eyelid to treat a chalazion.

My eyes had been opened. There was no turning back. Could I still become a plastic surgeon or neurosurgeon? Sure! But as painful as it was to come to the conclusion, I was beginning to realize that going down a slightly different path than originally planned does not always alter the outcome. It does not always change the dream.  My dream was ultimately to become a Christian doctor that not only enjoyed what she did, but could also put the passion of her enjoyment into the caring of her patients.

On the bright side, I am just about to finish my first week of third year.  This means that I have a little time to settle in my mind which field is for me.  It is always good to have a plan, and it is even better to be able to stick with that plan. However, sometimes it is the unexpected twists and turns in life that make it fun (at least when we look back on it), that help us to grow, and that help us to become the people we always wanted to be.  In the end with an open mind and willingness to make mistakes, what was always meant for us will be ours.

“Too many cooks spoil the broth”

Having gone half way across the country for my undergraduate education in Alabama, I thought that I had the whole “adjustment factor” under control.  It seemed like moving to California would not be much different, especially since I was transitioning from one Seventh-day Adventist school to another. I thought I knew what I was doing. So I decided to shrug off the old voices of wisdom who warned to “avoid distractions!”  But I quickly came to understand the saying “too many cooks spoil the broth.”

My pride was in thinking that it was okay to change all of the good study habits that I had developed in college (crazy right?).  Growing to care for all of my new classmates, professors, mentors, and various other students, I wanted to listen to their advice.  “Do such and such and you’ll be like John who was at the top of his class in ‘07’.”  After much critical analyses, I agreed that the advice was pretty exceptional.  Unfortunately, not all of it was exceptional for me.

So then it was one week before the exam hit.  My heart raced as I attempted to readjust my adjusted study habits back to what worked for me.  Mental roadblocks, long nights of study, knees worn out from prayers, phone calls from parents telling me to study more (and angry with myself knowing they were right!) encompassed the days before exams.  All of it reached an emotional climax on the weekend before Day One of the four day test week.

Fortunately, God pulled me through this one. However, as I looked back I realized that it could have been a lot less stressful. For me, the most valuable information learned was actually something that I already knew: Sometimes, the biggest hurdles in life are the ones that we set for ourselves.

True Success

My parents had three daughters, and I was the youngest.  I have noticed that youngest siblings are usually one of the following: Those that try to be like their older siblings, and those that do everything possible NOT to.  In my life, there have been so many positive influences from not only my siblings but also my parents that it has been natural to want to emulate what I admire in them.  My father, who is on his third career, is now a physician working in under-served areas, my mother is a nurse, my sister is in medical school, and my oldest sister is in law school.  For this reason, it’s hard for me to attribute my dreams, career aspirations, and even my values to any one thing; I grew into them as I  learned to love the people around me and experienced various situations.

After 18 years of living in (8 months of cold, but beautiful) Michigan, it was time to go to college. I knew that I couldn’t just go to any school for college.  Going to Oakwood University and majoring in Biomedical Science was a choice that I made because of the “family” environment, compassion of the professors, and high acceptance rate for minority students into medical school.  The first three years were a blur. Then, application process started! I am not even going to lie: It was a nightmare! From MCAT practice test blunders, to thousands of dollars spent on applications, essays, and interview travels, I thought that I wouldn’t make it out.  But you know what? You do. I can almost look back on the whole experience and say that it was the best time of my life. No, I am not crazy.  I can only say this because I grew closer to God, and I learned how important it is to have people around you who genuinely love you and are willing to help at every step.  For me, getting into medical school was not the greatest success of my life.  It was realizing the true value of the people around me and deepening my relationship with Christ!