Leveraging A Science Degree – Dr. Jeanette Richards Ph.D.

March 14, 2017

Jeanette Richards P&G Pic

I’m really excited about this interview!  One, Dr. Richards is our first non-Oakwood grad being featured and two, her experience highlights the secondary focus of this blog – showing students what options exist outside of medicine / dentistry.  Most times when students with science degrees think about doing research they think of research that still has a clinical emphasis or benefit. Dr. Richards started along this path but was able to translate the skills / knowledge she acquired in undergrad/graduate school to the beauty industry. See her story below…

HEALTHOU: When did your interest in and love for science emerge? 

Dr. Richards: My passion for science must have developed at a very early age.  It seems that I was always curious about living things in my surroundings that were unusual to me and that typically involved insects and unique plants.  By the time I was 8 years old, I had a fascination with ladybugs and was convinced that I could hatch them from ‘jumbie beans’ (brightly colored red seeds with a black spot) which are common in the Caribbean.  While I waited on my glass jar of beans to do something else besides rattle at the back of my sock draw, I moved on to collect live bugs in containers filled with leaves that I hoped would keep them happy and hidden in my school desk, but they were destined to escape in swarms and horrify my 3rd grade teacher.

Fortunately, that curiosity was nurtured early on by my mother Mrs. Vernice Hughes who even with meager funds, bought me tools such as a microscope and scientific books for kids.  My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Carolyn Henry who believed that 5th grade was the foundation of the rest of your life, helped channel that interest with simple projects that introduced me to the scientific method in an age-appropriate way.

HEALTHOU: What did you major in in college? What led to your decision to pursue that particular course of study? 

Dr. Richards: I majored in biology at the University of the Virgin Islands because I had enjoyed that subject in high school more than any other and believed that would provide a good basis for my career; however once I took General Chemistry in college and survived the first semester of Organic, I was surprised to find that chemistry was equally interesting. hards:

HEALTHOU: Did you ever have an interest in pursuing medicine or any other “typical” science career?

Dr. Richards: I was on the pre-med track when I started undergrad as I had plans since elementary school to become a pediatrician.  The experience that profoundly changed my path began when my organic chemistry professor, Dr. Meledath Govindan asked me to be a part of his research program that focused on application of chemistry and chemical ecology for isolation of bioactive compounds from marine sources.  This was done in collaboration with Dr. Teresa Turner, a marine biology professor who would become one of the most influential persons in my life.  I was 18 years old and felt that I was making a difference at that age and could envision how my small contribution could help advance the knowledge in this area and lead to drugs for diseases such as cancer.  That was important to me because my grandfather was losing his fight with multiple myeloma.  In addition, I had worked at the hospital the year before and while that was valuable, the up-close experience with human suffering was difficult for me.Still, I kept the goal of medical school while I continued to conduct research in natural products chemistry and lipid biochemistry throughout college and trained for both the MCAT and GRE as required by my department.  My intent was to pursue the MD/PhD path until an academic advisor in my junior year helped me to identify what I really wanted to do and that was research.

HEALTHOU: How did you decide to pursue a PhD in biochemistry?

Dr. Richards: Most of the graduate programs to which I applied were pharmacognosy/medicinal chemistry ones because of my interest in drug discovery and biomedical research; however the interdisciplinary biochemistry program at The Ohio State University provided training and research opportunities at the interface of chemistry and biology that appealed to my desire to solve problems with multiple approaches.  I was fortunate to eventually work on breast cancer in a broad-based research group where my particular focus was on biochemical pathways of aromatase and cyclooxygenase regulation.

HEALTHOU: What did you do after graduate school?

Dr. Richards: My advisor, Dr. Robert Brueggemeier was a considerate person who allowed his students to continue to work in his lab during the transition period after grad school which enabled me to figure out my next steps.  For about a year I did a short post-doc focused on gene expression profiling of breast and colon cancer and dabbled in biochemistry lectures for pharmacy students while I explored future career paths.   

HEALTHOU: Oftentimes when students think of pursuing a terminal degree in a scientific discipline they usually think academic or clinically related research.  Did you ever imagine a career in industry during your training?

Dr. Richards: I never imagined a career in industry because I simply was not aware of the disciplines and depth of science involved in industry.  To be frank, there was a stigma associated with industry at least by ‘scientific purists’ that made it seem like less rigorous science and a less challenging path than academia.  I had also been supported by NIH training programs throughout my undergrad and grad studies and was interested in NCI but at the same time the additional 6 to 9 years of post-doctoral positions that would be required in order to be competitive for that or even academia was not enticing to me. Ultimately, I wanted to find a way to make a more immediate difference and pragmatically that led me to industry.

HEALTHOU: How did you land a job in industry?

Dr. Richards: Procter & Gamble has an annual 3-day recruiting conference for PhD students/recent PhD graduates who are under-represented minorities, which provides considerable insight into research careers in industry.  The program FIRST, was my first exposure to the actual science behind each consumer product which was impressive and the engineers and scientists who have thrived in these business areas.  I participated in this conference during my transitional post-doc period which enabled me to meet hiring managers, one of which was a Director in Beauty and that resulted in a day interview in the following month. 

 

HEALTHOU: What is a typical day at work like for you? 

Dr. Richards: My role is one where I spend more time in meetings and none at all in the lab.  Some other scientists spend more time at the bench which has its advantages.  I interact with people across different functions e.g. product development, legal and also with external academic research groups and business partners.  I spend dedicated hours on Fridays thinking and also reading scientific papers in more quiet time since my work arrangement allows me to work from home that day.  In a typical year I get to travel for clinical studies and to attend scientific conferences in areas such as microbiology and dermatology. 

HEALTHOU: Ok, so you work in industry for Procter and Gamble, what exactly does that mean?  What do you do? What are some projects that you are currently or have worked on in the past?

Dr. Richards: I develop technical strategies and lead multi-disciplinary teams to discover new materials and clinically evaluate potential technologies for next-generation hair and scalp benefits.  Much of what we do involves elements of the drug discovery process including genomics and other molecular profiling techniques, target identification and validation, bioassay development and in vitro analysis in pre-clinical models.  A key difference from basic research is that our work needs to have a business purpose and it is imperative to demonstrate how the work can impact business directions and/or results as soon as possible.

My current program is dandruff, which means that I have responsibility for the development of new materials for future Head and Shoulders™ products.  This has been a fascinating assignment as it requires me to learn about both scalp biology as well as the biology of the fungus Malassezia that lives on everyone but triggers a flaking, itchy response only in susceptible people.  There are several unanswered questions that we hope to resolve.

Five years ago, I led the initiation of a passion project to develop deep technical knowledge of African Ancestry hair, which was a venture I longed to explore as a new hire and continues to be my side project.  This has evolved into a much larger business effort to better serve these consumers of multiple hair textures and address their needs and frustrations.  It has been so rewarding to see the launch of Pantene™ Gold Series and know that my work helped to influence Black hair care and the creation of products to improve the lives of consumers who share both my hair struggles and its unique delights.

HEALTHOU:What tips would you give to a science undergrad student regarding success in undergrad and transitioning to graduate school and the workforce?

Dr. Richards: Practice.  It’s best to uncover what you enjoy and where your strengths lie if you put into practice what you learn in the classroom early on as a student.  Find ways to get internships or other experience in your field of interest that will allow you to take the appropriate time and efforts to determine whether this is something you truly want to pursue. 

I think the types of students who are drawn to STEM fields are often driven and self-disciplined with much of their lives mapped out; however I want to encourage those of you who don’t have a 5 or 10 year plan, who may need a break to assess your options or still have questions about your abilities or purpose.  There may be major obstacles that you have to overcome but if something is your passion, it will be hard to deny that part of yourself or escape your calling.  You owe it to yourself to follow it to success or until the road leads you to somewhere else where your talents can be better utilized.

As you transition to graduate school and beyond, always take time for personal development.  Diversify your skill-set by attending seminars or deliberately taking classes in subjects outside of your area of expertise.  Exposure to different disciplines allows you to make new observations and connections.  All of your experiences, no matter the degrees of productivity will add to who you are as a person and ultimately make you better equipped as a scientist or health professional.

Finally, no matter how much I’ve learned, my best tool remains prayer.  I pray about opportunities that I desire and for God to direct my path, to close doors not meant for me and to open my eyes to His purpose for my life.  In these times where both science and religion are under attack and are often positioned as disparate domains, I hope that you will continue to embrace and engage your faith in God for your best chances of success in your scientific/health career and other aspects of your life.

 

Dr. Jeanette Richards was born in Dominica and grew up in the US Virgin Islands. She currently works as a Senior Scientist in the Beauty Technology Division at Procter and Gamble. Among many other things, she is an amazing cook, baker and hostess. She credits family support and God’s providence and leading for her success.

 


Growth Year Chronicles – Lemuel Hackshaw Pt2

February 16, 2017

So what does a growth year look like?  Well for Lemuel, during his growth year, he played a Steinway, drove a Tesla, helped out in food banks, spoke at schools and juvenile detention centers, visited Crater Lake and host of other experiences he wouldn’t have had, had is “failure” to get into medical school on his first attempt hadn’t happened.   Like I told the students last night, sometimes “failure” is just a disguised opportunity for something amazing!   Enjoy these pictures from his experiences.


Growth Year Chronicles – Lemuel Hackshaw

February 16, 2017

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with a few students about the growth year. No, I don’t mean the gap year. I mean the growth year.  To me, “gap year” has a negative tone, and like I told the students last night. time between undergrad and professional school is ANYTHING but negative.  It’s a ripe opportunity to rest, rejuvenate, grow and prepare a stellar application.   I can tell students this as much as I want to, but nothing beats showing them students just like them who are flourishing in the transition period.   Hopefully Lemuel’s experience will help show, that there’s nothing negative about a growth year at all 🙂  Enjoy

HealthOU: When did you graduate from Oakwood?

May 7, 2016

HealthOU: Describe your activities post Oakwood?

From graduation until August 19th, I studied for the MCAT (which consisted of 6 weeks of independent study followed by a 6 week MCAT prep course at UConn Health). Submitted all of my med school secondary applications by September 23rd. 3 days after my MCAT score was released. (I used SDN to pre fill out secondary applications questions before I actually received the secondaries). After that, I joined up with a humanitarian organization called NAPS. The National Association for the Prevention of Starvation. In which we travel the nation full time doing service. With the team, I’ve traveled to Seattle WA, Portland and Medford OR Sacramento, San Diego, and Los Angeles CA, and Phoenix AZ. We then plan to go to Ethiopia and Haiti this summer as well.

HealthOU: When did you take the MCAT? How did you study?

I took the MCAT twice. The first time I took it, (May 2015) I studied during spring semester junior year, in order to take the MCAT early and complete a summer of research at Duke. Which was a mistake. I took the MCAT a second time after my senior year on August 19th. I studied for approximately four months. Two months of content review, reading and studying through all of the Exam Kracker books, then I did two months of practice tests. In which I took the 2AAMC test and 9 Kaplan practice tests. I studied each test after I took it for two, 12 hour days. I re-read through all of the passages, questions and explanations until I understood everything. I practically retool each test in depth. Which is why it took 24 hours over two days to review each practice test.

HealthOU: Why do you feel it was a mistake to study for the MCAT during the spring semester of your junior year?
I studied during the busiest semester of my life. I was doing research, heavily involved in NAPS (National Association for the Prevention of Starvation), Planning an outreach event in the community for NOBBChE, teaching three different lab sections. Doing research on campus, taking 18 credits, traveling with Honda Allstars Intercollegiate Quiz Team, plus more. All while trying to study for the MCAT

 

HealthOU: After your first MCAT scores came back did you still go ahead and apply to med school, or did you then opt to plan for a gap year?
I did both. I submitted my application based on schools I had connections with or was recommended to apply to. After I submitted my med school application, I then began to make plans for a gap year. I applied to UConn’s MCAT program, and I applied to various postbacc programs. Which I opted not to complete in exchange for YOD (Year of Dedication)*
HealthOU: How many schools did you apply to?
First cycle I applied to 8 schools. 0 interviews. 0 acceptances.
Second cycle I applied to 12 schools.
So far. 7 interview invites. 2 rejections. I have completed 4 interviews thus far and have been accepted to 3 of the 4 schools. One with a full scholarship.  I still have three interviews pending and am still in the review process for the other three schools I applied to.

HealthOU: What things do you think played a role in you not getting the score you wanted on your first attempt at the MCAT?   

Everyone that I talked to that scored well on the MCAT from various places all told me the same thing. And it was that they had to dedicate an entire section of time without doing anything else to study for the MCAT. So the mistake came from trying to study in the midst of a heavy load. Another thing that lowered my score was that I only took one practice test. I studied a lot but didn’t practice. The same people that I talked to told me that score increase came from practice. I also took an early MCAT. I took an early MCAT because I wanted to do research. I thought having Duke on my resume was more important than investing more time to study. Professors tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen and a lot of students don’t listen.  So a lack of devoted time, and ineffective studying due to a busy schedule, and a lack of practice tests all contributed to my low score.

HealthOU: How did your scores change between your first and second attempt of the MCAT. 
My score went up by 13 points and 45 percentile points.Having four focused months definitely helped.  Because I was able to do things in preparation for my MCAT that I couldn’t do if I was in school. I couldn’t study 12 hours a day while taking 18 credits. And I couldn’t fit in two entire 8 hour practice tests a week while in school. The four focused months allowed me to study without having to worry about anything else but studying. In the summer I was able to take 11 practice tests. Which really helped improve my score.
HealthOU: You took the MCAT in August 2016, when did you submit your AMCAS application?
I submitted my AMCAS about 4 weeks prior to my MCAT release date. I knew that medical schools couldn’t review my application without my MCAT, and that most schools don’t send secondaries without the MCAT. So I submitted it so that my MCAT release date and my AMCAS verification date could be close together. My MCAT was released September 20th. I submitted my AMCAS August 23rd. I also only submitted my AMCAS to just one school initially. So that way it can be verified without being sent to a lot of schools. That way when I got my MCAT score back, I could then decide which schools I’d want to add to my application

 

HealthOU: Did you plan on taking a gap year prior to graduating?

No I did not.

HealthOU: Students often have a timeline in their heads and it can be discouraging to find yourself taking a gap year if you didn’t initially plan do.  Did you experience any of these feelings?

Sure did. I wanted to go straight through. It was even tougher knowing that all of my friends made it into medical school the first time and I didn’t. But I also realized that God has a specific plan for everyone and we cannot lean on our own understanding. Proverbs 14:12-There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

HealthOU: What did you learn from your growth year experiences?

I learned that a gap year is a BEAUTIFUL thing full of opportunities. I’ve literally been in school for the past 17 years. And having an entire year to find myself, do things I enjoy, travel, minister, and meet new people, is a great thing. Especially since all I ever knew was school. I think everyone should take a gap year. Even if their application is already medical school ready.

HealthOU: What were some of the benefits to taking some time off between undergrad and professional school?                                                                            

Getting that time to do whatever I wanted to do. I wanted to build a strong foundation in every aspect of life before starting medical school. I could do that. I can grow spiritually without the usual compromise of school. I can work out consistently. I can work and save up. I can travel the nation. I can learn a new language. I can learn the capital of every country in the world. I can spend a lot of time with friends and family. I was able to do everything that I couldn’t do because of school. And lay a strong foundation within myself and develop the characteristics that I wanted going into medical school.

 

 

Lemuel Hackshaw was born and raised in the Southside Jamaica Queens in New York City. His favorite scripture is 2 Cor 5:17 because choosing to follow God took him from Central Bookings in Kew Gardens, to Medical School on a full scholarship. He believes in God’s power to make all things new and is thankful  that God  is using him to fulfill the great commission. 

*YOD ( Year of Dedication) is a year long mission commitment organized by the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation.


Summer Plans – Make some!

January 13, 2017

The pre-health students I have the privilege of advising one on one will hear me say this often, “You must have plans for the summer.  You cannot go home and work for the GAP”. Now, nothing against the GAP, but the point is, they cannot afford to waste a summer in an activity that will not help them develop their application for medical school.  While the GAP may offer a great discount and many other benefits, improving ones medical school application isn’t one of them, so its a no no for the summer.

Basic Summer Plan Ideas By Classification

FRESHMAN

  • If you’re a freshman who will not have taken General Chemistry 1 and 2 by the end of the current semester , you should plan to take that course during the summer, so you can enroll in Organic as a sophomore and then Biochemistry  as a junior. ( Remember, 1st semester biochemistry is on the MCAT, so you need to set up a schedule where you will be able to take Biochem by Fall of your Junior year.
  • In addition to the course, you need to : shadow, health related volunteer work, short term enrichment program like SMDEP
  • If you’re a freshman who is currently taking Chemistry you should plan to do summer research or  summer enrichment program this summer. My favorite summer enrichment program is SHPEP, but there are many others.

SOPH

  • If you’re a sophomore who will not have completed Organic Chemistry 1 / 2 by the end of the current semester, you should plan to take that course during the summer, so you can enroll in Biochem in the fall of your Junior year.
  • If you will have to take Organic during the summer, also plan to shadow, health related volunteer work,  short term enrichment program like SMDEP
  • If you don’t have to take Organic, plan to do summer research and incorporate some shadowing also.

JUNIOR

  • If you’re a junior, if you have a solid MCAT study plan and haven’t done any research, plan on doing summer research.  Do not plan to do summer research if you are planning to study for and take the MCAT over the summer.  There’s not enough time for both.
  • If you have done some research and have a solid MCAT prep plan, will be taking the test in April / May  and anticipate a good score on the test, you could enroll in research again.
  • If you have done research, planning to take the MCAT in  May / June but aren’t super confident in how you will do, plan for a light summer, that way you can take June, July, August to do some additional studying and retake the test in Aug/Sept if need be. So you could plan to shadow or health related work / volunteering, a mission trip etc.

If you’re looking for summer research now, in January, you’re late!!!  Lots of opportunities have closed, but there are still some available.  The goal is that each of  you will do something productive this summer.  If you are not able to find a summer research program I would suggest taking some courses during the summer to lighten your overall academic load (preferably some science courses) while shadowing extensively.  Below is a list of summer research opportunities.  As stated, some deadlines may be past. 

Suggested Starting Points 
1. Aamc.org  Summer Programs  database https://services.aamc.org/summerprograms/. Can select by state.

2. Good list that offers a bit of insight into deadlines without needing to look deep into the application.  http://www.naahp.org/Diversity/SummerOpportunities.aspx

 

Lists organized by state

  1.  Another already compiled list of tons of programs. Organized by state.

http://www.bu.edu/prehealth/opportunities/summerenrichmentprograms/

2.  Nicely organized list that has programs arranged by state.

http://uss.tufts.edu/hpa/ExperientialPrep/PreMedical.asp

3.  Nicely organized list that has programs arranged by state.

http://web.jhu.edu/prepro/Forms/National_International_Opportunities.pdf

More Extensive Lists
http://explorehealthcareers.org/en/careers/programs

 

List with later deadlines  ( Note:  This is a old list of  opportunities from a few years ago, but typically the programs recur and the links remain the same.  What I know is that these programs had deadlines that were a bit later in late January, February and even some in March  So even if the link if outdated, it would be beneficial to look up each individual school’s website and find their program)

http://sackler.tufts.edu/Admissions/Apply-to-Non-Degree-Programs/Building-Diversity-in-Biomedical-Sciences.aspx ( Feb 15)

http://www.med.umich.edu/ohei/program/career.html  ( Feb 1)

http://pritzker.uchicago.edu/about/diversity/pipeline/camp.shtml  (Jan 13)

https://www.einstein.yu.edu/education/phd/the-summer-undergrad-research-program.aspx   ( Feb 1)

http://www.diversity.med.miami.edu/documents/Motivation_2017.pdf  (March 17)

http://www.mplsheart.org/get-involved/internships/research-internship/overview/ (DEADLINE IS JAN. 31, 2015)

http://www.rowan.edu/coopermed/diversity/undergrad/ ( Jan 27th)

http://coe.stanford.edu/pre-med/sshcop.html  (Feb 28)

http://louisville.edu/research/students/students/undergrad-grad/summer ( Several programs with different deadlines)

http://www.shpep.org/ ( March 1)

http://www.colorado.edu/GraduateSchool/DiversityInitiative/undergrads/smart/index.html

http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/education/phd/gpo/srip  (Feb 1)

http://www.rackham.umich.edu/srop

http://www.uthsc.edu/HCP/descriptions.php

http://graduate.ucsf.edu/srtp (for students pursuing PhD.)

http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/education/research/surf/apply/

http://med.uc.edu/SURF/experience

http://www.medstudent.ucla.edu/offices/aeo/prep.cfm

http://www.lsuhscshreveport.edu/multiculturalaffairs/efpform.aspx

https://www.training.nih.gov/programs/sip

http://www.pathwaystoscience.org/Institution.aspx?sort=Institution&subsort=NIH

 

 


Alumni Spotlight – Dr. Oneka Marriott D.O.

March 28, 2016

Early this week we posted about the MD vs the DO degree. Today, our featured alum is Dr.  Oneka Marriott D.O.  Here to tell us first hand what life as a D.O. is like. Enjoy!

Photo_Marriott_Oneka

What year did you graduate from Oakwood?

2003

 

What was your major?

Biology/Pre-Med

 

What were your career aspirations during your time at Oakwood?

My focus was always on studying to become a doctor – specifically a pediatrician. I was a biology major at Howard University for my first year of college and then transferred to OC my second year maintaining the same degree focus.

 

What was your academic path after graduation from Oakwood?

I did not enter medical school directly after graduating from Oakwood (although I did apply). Back then (as it is even more so now) the competition to enter medical school is fierce. And although Oakwood’s Biology/pre-med program prepares you very well for medical school my life took a different path. Upon the advice of my counselor Dr. Schmidt, I applied to the Master of Public Health program at The Ohio State University and was accepted for the Fall of 2003. This was the best decision I could have made. In this program I discovered my love of population health and laid the foundation for my future work in public health and medicine. My love for pediatric medicine was still brewing however, and I decided to reapply to medical school. A year into my MPH I completed an intensive 6 week summer program at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens, Ohio. I have never worked so hard in my life and it paid off! At the end of the program eligible candidates are offered interviews for the medical school. I interviewed and was granted direct admission into the medical school for the following academic year. That Fall, I completed my MPH and graduated from The Ohio State University. I worked for 6 months until the start of medical school the next summer and then began my journey through the medical training.

I graduated from Ohio University (Heritage) College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2009 with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. I completed my pediatric residency in Palm Beach County Florida at Palms West Hospital in 2012.

 

What do you currently do (professionally)?

Currently, I am a board-certified practicing pediatrician and full-time faculty member at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM). I serve as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health as well as the Director of Medical Education for the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County Preventive Medicine and Public Health Program. I teach medical students in the pediatrics course as well as serve as a clinical instructor in our pediatric clinic. I also instruct 3 courses in the Master of Public Health Program including: Children’s Health, Public Health Issues in Child Abuse, and Vaccines. In 2014, through the sponsorship of NSU-COM, I completed a year-long national professional training fellowship in Health Policy.

 

I notice that you went to an osteopathic medical school? Can you give a brief description of how osteopathic medicine differs from allopathic medical schools?

Students attending osteopathic medical schools complete training in basic sciences as well as clinic medical education (as they do in allopathic medical schools). The Osteopathic philosophy is interwoven in the curriculum from day one where students are taught how the body functions as one unit and that the body is capable of self-healing. They are taught in a manner that emphasizes a holistic approach to patient care and management – taking into account, structural, biological, mental and social determinants of one’s health. Students are also instructed in Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy – which is a hands-on study and practice in the structure and function of the human body.  Upon graduating from medical school and subsequently residency, osteopathic students, like allopathic (MD) students can be fully licensed and credentialed to practice medicine and surgery in the United States.

 

Our students are not as familiar with osteopathic medical schools as they are with allopathic medical schools, how did the option to train as an osteopath come about for you?

Again, my advisor, Dr. Schmidt from OC was instrumental in my decision to pursue osteopathic medicine. Before her, I had never heard of it. During my MPH studies I researched it and found that the philosophies fit well with mine which were treating the whole person and creating a sense of community within your practice of medicine.

 

One common misconception is that graduates from osteopathic medical schools have a harder time getting residency positions, can you comment on that, as a practitioner who has completed residency?

The landscape of Graduate Medical Education in America is evolving as we speak. The once separate osteopathic and allopathic graduate medical education system is now unifying. Starting July 1, 2015, osteopathic residency programs will be able to apply for ACGME recognition; and therefore graduates of osteopathic and allopathic medical schools in the US will be eligible to apply to any of the residency positions as the transition unfolds. There are still many unknowns relative to this new unified system, but it does open up additional opportunities for graduates of all the US schools. As was previously the case, however, competition for residencies continues to be a challenge for all graduates. There are still some specialties such orthopedics, ophthalmology, and dermatology to name a few that are highly competitive and will likely remain so regardless of the changes in GME. Therefore, students are advised to work hard, be present and make themselves as valuable a candidate as possible. This goes across the board.

 

How do you incorporate your osteopathic principles and your OMT training into your daily work?

For me the principles of osteopathic medicine should be a part of any practicing physician. The principles guide a practitioner to be compassionate, think comprehensively (holistically) about the patient and his/her ailments, treat the body as a unit – meaning if there is a problem in one area it may be stemming from another area, incorporate the patient into his/her treatment plan, etc. These are principles that are ingrained in my practice of medicine on a daily basis. The beauty of OMT training is that it is an added tool in your medical toolbox. With our hands we are able to fix a headache in the office, relieve pain in a joint or back, and improve the oral-motor function in a baby to better facilitate feeding for instance. We use these techniques in conjunction with traditional medical management where appropriate.

 

What do you love most or find most rewarding about your job?

What I love most about being a pediatrician specifically is the ability to make a difference in a child’s life and potentially alter their course in life to maximize their greatest potential. The children we treat today could become the leaders of tomorrow. Who knows – one of them may become my doctor when I’m old! I’m contributing to the circle of life and the health of a nation and it’s a beautiful thing!

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share my journey!

Oneka Marriott, DO, MPH

 

 


Did you know there are two types of medical schools?

March 23, 2016

Not many students are aware of the two different types of medical degrees that exist.  Traditionally, people are most familiar with the M.D degree.  Graduates with an M.D degree attend allopathic medical schools.  There is also a second less known medical degree, the doctor of osteopathic medicine or D.O. which is the degree offered by osteopathic medical schools.

So what is a D.O?  DO is  doctor of osteopathic medicine, not to be confused with MD – the degree conferred on those who graduate from an allopathic medical school. Both are doctors who can enter residency programs and practice medicine.  Graduates from D.O schools can practice medicine just like those who graduate from M.D schools and go into whatever speciality they like.  The major difference in the training is that DO schools incorporate a holistic approach to healing and incorporate Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) into their model / method for diagnosing and treating disease.

There are often misconceptions about osteopathic medicine.  It’s easier, its quack medicine, graduates can’t find residency positions, its a back up plan for people who can’t get into allopathic medical schools. These are all things I’ve heard about D.O schools and the field of osteopathic medicine.  In my experience I’ve found that my D.O colleagues were definitely on par if not better than my D.O colleagues.  We did residency together and now are  One of the premier pediatricians in the city of Huntsville, who I respect and look up to is a D.O.  Do I personally think having a D.O. degree places one at a disadvantage?  Absolutely not.

Check out the osteopathic school matriculant data to see the typical applicant profile, broken down by gender, race, MCAT score, GPA, etc.

To learn more about the field of osteopathic medicine and if it’s right for you, visit http://www.aacom.org/home.

To read more about the differences between MD vs DO, check out this blog.


Great, big, wide healthcare world – Physician Assistant

March 19, 2016

There is more to healthcare than just medicine and dentistry. Don’t get me wrong, medicine and dentistry are two lovely professions, however, that path isn’t the path for everyone.  Those with the desire to “help people” in a healthcare setting can do so as a physician assistant, optometrist, pharmacist, chiropractor.   Check out the interview below from Oakwood’s own Shonet Brown – PA, who works as a physician assistant.   To learn more about the road to becoming a PA, check out this website.

 

HO:What was your career goal when you started at Oakwood?

SB: My plan was to be a medical technologist (lab rat) to work my way through medical school and eventually become a pediatrician.

 

HO: What was your major?

SB: Pre-Physician Assistant (Associate of Science), Pre-Physical Therapy (Associate of Science), Biology (Bachelor of Science)

 

HO:How did you decide to become a physician assistant?

SB: First day of freshman registration I was waiting in line to see my advisor and saw a pamphlet about the Physician Assistant career. It gave me the option to do all I wanted in less than half the time just without the title of “MD” so I jumped on the opportunity!

 

HO: Can you describe your professional journey post Oakwood?

SB: After Oakwood I attended Nova Southeastern University where I earned a Bachelors in Physician Assistant Studies and a Masters of Medical Science degree. I was hired by a preceptor upon completion of my training. (make a good impression during clinicals!) I worked in Florida for a few years doing hospital admissions and rounding as well as in the out patient setting.

HO: Where do you currently work?

SB: Currently on Sabbatical but worked for years in Internal Medicine, inpatient (hospitalist) and out-patient (private practice) facilities.

 

HO: What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

SB: Movies and TV, Reading, Zumba, Quality time with family and friends

 

HO: What are good resources for students interested in learning more about becoming a physician assistant?

SB: American Academy of Physician Assistants www.aapa.org, National Commission for the Certification of Physician Assistants www.nccpa.net

 

HO: What exactly does a physician assistant do?

SB: A Physician Assistant (US) or Physician Associate (UK) is a healthcare professional who is licensed to practice medicine as part of a team with physicians.

PAs are concerned with preventing and treating human illness and injury by providing a broad range of health care services under the supervision of physician or surgeon. They conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, develop treatment plans, perform procedures, prescribe medications, counsel on preventive health care and may assist in surgery.

 

HO: Can a physician assistant prescribe medications?

SB: Yes

 

HO: What’s the path to becoming a physician assistant?

SB: Most PA programs offer Masters Degrees, usually less than 3 years to complete. So, obtain a Bachelors Degree in your field of choice as long as you have the pre-requisites for PA school like Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, etc. A period of extensive clinical training precedes obtaining a license to practice as a physician assistant, and similar to physician training but shorter in duration, includes all systems of the human body. Renewal of licensure is necessary every few years, varying by jurisdiction. Physician assistants may also complete residency training, similar to physicians’ residencies but significantly shorter, in fields such as OB/GYN, emergency medicine, critical care, orthopedics, neurology, surgery, and other medical disciplines.

 

HO: What are some of the pros and cons to life as a physician assistant?

SB: The biggest PRO of being a PA is flexibility. Not only are you not limited to a field of medicine to practice but you can choose the setting as well. Whether you like night shifts, 9-5, holidays and weekends off or want to work around the clock you can find the right fit. You can practice pediatrics for a few years then switch to orthopedics or dermatology if you’d like. You’re never locked down.

The only CON I can think of besides paperwork is getting stuck with a supervising physician you don’t get along with or whose view of the PA role is limited. If you and your supervising physician are in the same room you’re not being properly utilized. We are best effective and efficient when working with autonomy.

 

HO: Can interested students contact you with questions?

SB: Email questions to Sbrownpac80@gmail.com and I will try to respond quickly.