This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the med school and residency application process. And now, introducing Leslie Nwoke…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What other degrees do you hold? What is your favorite non-school book?
Leslie: Hello Accepted.com readers! My name is Leslie Nwoke. I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. I’m happily married to my husband of 4 years and have a 15 month old scrumptious son.
I attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA for college, where I majored in Biology/PreMed. After graduating from college, I went to George Washington University where I earned my Masters in Public Health (M.P.H) with a concentration in Global Health Promotion. I can honestly say those two years in graduate school changed my life and solidified the direction I wanted to take in my career.
Favorite book? That’s a tough one, because I’m an avid reader of a lot of great literature – but I’d have to say its Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a powerful book telling a fictional story during the real Biafran Civil War in Nigeria. It was one of those books that had me thinking about the characters days after finishing the book.
Accepted: Where did you go to med school? What were your criteria for choosing the best med program for you?
Leslie: I started out at St. Matthews University School of Medicine and later transferred to Ross University School of Medicine. My time in medical school was honestly a very unique season in my life. When else in your life can you say you lived on an island while attending medical school…and eating curry chicken and escovitch fish almost daily? LOL
What was important for me in choosing my medical school was choosing an institution that placed priority on teaching students, where students were happy, where students matched at locations/programs I liked, and a place that offered rotations where I had family (to decrease housing costs). I really enjoyed my time at St. Matthews – It set a great foundation of good study ethic needed to succeed in medicine and provided an environment where I could learn without intimidation. My transfer to RossU for my last two years of medical school provided an equally satisfying experience.
Accepted: Where are you doing your residency?
Leslie: I am entering my PGY-2 year as a psychiatry resident at Morehouse School of Medicine.
Accepted: Can you share your top 3 residency tips with our readers?
a) Don’t try to study before coming into residency!
One of the main questions I get from people applying to residency programs is “What should I read before I start in July?” Although I will never discourage studying, I would highly encourage enjoying the free time you have before residency. Residency has a steep learning curve and you WILL learn what you have to learn. The time before intern year is special – spend time with friends, travel, and sleep!
b) Work like a resident with a medical student curiosity.
The transition to intern year brings a lot of expectations, especially in terms of the responsibility level you have with patients. Commit yourself to the process – throw yourself into patient care, but don’t ever feel like you’ve passed a stage where you can’t ask questions, even seemingly silly ones.
You’ll be surprised that residents around you don’t know the answer and your boldness to ask questions helps you and your patient.
c) Learn to automate your learning style.
Residency is busy and limits the time you once had to read textbooks and review lectures. Most of your learning will have to be on the go. Keep a little notebook in your white coat where you can jot down “pearls” of knowledge while on the wards. Download the USMLE app so you can answer questions on your down time. Listen to medical podcasts on your commute to stay abreast of current events in your field.
Accepted: As someone who is passionate about work and family (not to mention global activism!), you must be encountering quite a juggling act. How have you been managing the life/work/study balance?
Leslie: Whew! Plenty of late nights and coffee! Just kidding…maybe… 🙂
So, I’m married with an almost 2 year old and prioritize time with them above everything. I leave work at the hospital. When I’m home, that time belongs to them. That being said, I also have to get creative about how I carry out my other responsibilities. We’re blessed to have family a few minutes’ drive away, so my husband and I have the luxury to have the munchkin stay with family if I’m on call or need to complete a few tasks. Sometimes, I try to wake up earlier than my family to respond to emails or other projects. For my nonprofit initiative, I have a great team that shares the workload. It’s not perfect, but I’m learning and shifting as intern year goes on.
Accepted: Can you tell us about The Ruby Project?
Leslie: Yes! Ruby Project is my 2nd baby. 🙂 It’s a nonprofit I started with a close friend of mine that provides trauma support for young girls through annual summer retreats. Our Ruby girls, 12-18 year olds, are mainly recruited from social services and foster care programs in California. Our 3-day retreats involve one-on-one peer counseling, dance and drama therapy, and teen health workshops. We are entering our 3rd year and expanding to older girls and to new cities. Check us out at www.ruby-project.org!
Accepted: Long term, how do you plan on combining your degrees with your mission of social justice?
Leslie: I love this question…this is the stuff that makes my heart beat. So I’m interested in doing this in a couple of ways: a) Consulting with international aid groups to create strategies on scaling up their mental health policy b) working to build up psychosocial rehab programs for marginalized groups like child soldiers or sex trafficking victims.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Leslie: So, I’m a new blogger. My blog is DivaDocSpeaks.com! Please check it out. 🙂 It is my space online to share about the intersection of my life as a wife, new mom, and new resident who’s also really into non-medicine endeavors. You can also follow me on Twitter @DivaDocSpeaks and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DivaDocSpeaks.
You can read more about Leslie’s journey by checking out her blog, Diva Doc Speaks. Thank you Leslie for sharing your story with us!
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