I was born in Peru in a small town called Nasca. Peru is a beautiful country with lots of natural resources and wonderful people, but disparities in its society are obvious and tangible. I felt them firsthand as a child born into a low-income family. We struggled financially, and I never had much growing up, but the one thing I never lacked was motivation. I wanted to work hard to build a better future for myself than my parents could have ever imagined.
From as early as I can remember, my family physician inspired me to help others. His ability to care for everyone in the community, from old to young, left me in awe. It became my life goal to follow in his footsteps. Before entering medical school, I knew I wanted to become a family physician. After all, growing up in Oracabessa, Jamaica, a very rural community, that was the only type of doctor I knew. Fast forward to now, years later, I have traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to complete my residency training to become a family physician.
The pursuit of a career in medicine has been a lifelong dream for me. I inherited a passion for learning and an unwavering commitment to achieving excellence from my academically focused Indian family. Encouraged by the values instilled in me by my parents, I attended and graduated from one of the most prestigious medical colleges in the state of Gujarat in my home country of India. After I completed my education, I dreamt of taking the next step in my medical career in the United States, where I could study the intricate inner workings of the human brain and have the opportunity to contribute to the global advancement of neurological care.
Each journey in medicine is unique, but all are full of grit, strength, and motivation. I write this blog post in the hopes that you can derive inspiration during your experience as an international medical graduate. By no means is this an easy route, but it is incredibly worth it, and I would not have had it any other way.
Dear fellow international medical graduates (IMGs):
We, like our U.S.-graduate counterparts, are hardworking and highly resilient in our pursuit of residency. We are all excited yet daunted by the prospect of transitioning from medical school to internship, as this new phase brings increased responsibility and autonomy. We all rush to meet deadlines and gather stack upon stack of required paperwork to jump off the page and qualify for selection. However, IMGs often face unique obstacles that we must overcome in preparation for and as we matriculate in our residencies in the United States. For example, as a Lebanese applicant, I was faced with regular electricity outages, civil rights movements interrupting my normal workflow, and severe financial limitations due to the fastest rate of hyperinflation in modern history in my country. I had to embrace instability and uncertainty and always aim to thrive from within the chaos. I am certain that many of my fellow IMGs faced similar challenges in their efforts to begin residency in the United States. Especially in this time of the pandemic, we all dealt with some level of economic and political instability in our homelands, not to mention the multiple waves of quarantine, uncertainty, and fear. If you are going through this process now, I send you a message of strength: you will persevere.