“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I am very fortunate as to how my whole medical school journey panned out, although there was a time when I didn’t consider it as such . Offshore medical school wasn’t what I originally planned while a Biology major at Oakwood. In fact, when I first heard of such medical schools, I told myself I would never allow myself to go there. My plan was to go to Oakwood, get my B.S in Biology (which I did), then go to Loma Linda, get my M.D (which I didn’t), then get a residency at Florida Hospital in Orlando (which is still in the air).
Long story short, after my graduation from Oakwood, I went to Miami to pursue my Masters in Biomedical Science for two years. Then, I went to South Korea to teach English for 26 months. And then, I ended up at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in St. Maarten. WOW! This allowed me to literally complete medical school in 4 different continents: 2 years in St. Maarten, 1 year in England, five weeks in Africa, and my final year in the States. I don’t regret a second of it. God knows me so well, that He knew my passion for traveling, learning, and new cultures can only be fulfilled by the route I have taken. I started medical school 5 years after my original plan, and yet, I know I am a better medical student for it. I’m not afraid to push the limit and delve into unknown territory. My adventures during my travels (close to 30 countries in 6 years) has given me so much courage, that I became a much more confident student in every way, allowing me to be in the top 12% of my class, and having the honor to address the new medical students during my Honor Society Induction ceremony.
This is not a boast, in the least. It is a testament that God’s purpose in our lives will be fulfilled for our own good. I say this is not a boast, because the years that I wasn’t in medical school, I screamed in anguish as to how my Lord can take away the dream that he placed in my heart! I was angry, sad, and bitter. That is until I stepped into my own “newfoundland.” For once, I allowed myself to not think of medicine and just enjoy life. I am in my 20s, and this is the time to enjoy my life and cultivate my other interests and talents. In that, I was able to discover other talents that I’d never known I had. I was able to see myself as completely well-rounded. I was able to live a life of no regrets. I am still flabbergasted as to all the jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching moments I’ve experienced in the different corners of this world. And that, no one can take away from me. In fact, taking time off before pursuing one’s career is customary in Australia and England. This is called Gap Year. In many of my travels, I met many Aussies who’d been traveling for months! I was very envious of them. They take the time out to enjoy life, discover their talents, take a break in the best decade of their lives, while their responsibilities are low to nil. Once you start working and starting a family, taking a year off is near impossible.
So, fortunately for me, I started medical school in January 2010. This meant that I would have lots of time off before my fourth year, and I will have lots of time off before residency. I took advantage of that and did a 5 week elective in Tanzania, East Africa. My dream of being in Africa finally came true. I spent Christmas, New Years and my birthday in this foreign land.
I will say this. In those five weeks, for the first time in all my travels, I wanted to go home during my second week. In fact, my plane ticket was bought. But why? Something major must have happened! Thankfully, I didn’t go home early, and the weeks that followed more than made up for the reason I wanted to get out of Africa.
In my next post, I shall discuss my adventure as a medical student in Africa!
But do remember, when plans don’t pan out as you would hope, it is not the end of the world. Don’t lose sight of your original goals. Keep pushing, but use the time “off” to cultivate your other talents. We are all more than just medical students or future doctors. What else do you love to do? It helps to take time out to do something completely non-medical. When you do come back to medicine, you will be refreshed. You may even be a better medical student! My fear that I have been out of school for too long when I started medical school catapulted me to study THAT much harder and more effectively, and it definitely paid off!