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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jay

My Unleveled Path to Medicine

Updated: May 11

I first said I wanted to be a doctor when I was 4 years old. From that time, my family did everything they could to cultivate that dream in me. My path wasn't the traditional 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, then residency. I was an A student in high school, but college? Whew! That really took some extra TLC. I focused more on running track- I had a full ride scholarship as a long and triple jumper. My grades were suboptimal and my standardized testing was a mess!

After two failed attempts at the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) with scores of 11, then 8 in the old scoring system, and many medical school denials, I went to my college advisor to seek help. She encouraged me to look at other careers. I knew in the back of my mind that God had called me to medicine. I asked her to help me find a program that would help me take the MCAT. She provided a list of programs, but one program stood out to me- MEDPREP at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. I applied for the program and was denied a spot. They told me that my grades were too low for them to be of assistance in brining up my science GPA by the end of the program for medical school acceptance. I was eager. I looked at other programs that I could get into at their school so I can be close to MEDPREP. I found their Master of Public Health program. When my childhood friend and I found the program, the application was due just a few days later. I remember texting her the answers to the application while I was at work and she filled the application out for me. After leaving work, I completed my essay and reviewed the application, then turned it in. We were both accepted.

We moved to Carbondale Illinois in August of 2007, ready to start the MPH program. I met with the MEDPREP director once I arrived and let him know that I was in town and in the MPH program. I declared to him that I would meet with him every semester to seek advice and I'd do everything they tell me until they let me in MEDPREP. I did just that. We piled upper level science courses on top of our grad school courses and stuck our heads in the books for 2 years. I earned every bit of that 4.0 yall! I mean every. single. grade.

At the final semester, the MEDPREP director had no other advice, except, "Jaleen, just graduate!". It was a great day in my world receiving the call regarding my acceptance into MEDPREP. I knew this program would save my career in medicine!

The first semester of MEDPREP was horrific! Yall, it was so hard that I literally was afraid to return for the fall semester! MEDPREP was where I discovered who I was as a learner. It's where I learned how to study. It's where I learned that it really does take "all of that" studying for me to do well in classes. I remember taking a break from studying and taking my blessed oil to the school and blessing all of the class and study rooms, the computer lab, each of the lockers. I just had to make it through AND I genuinely wanted all of my classmates to make it as well!

At the end of MEDPREP, I had taken a 4 year detour, to increase my chances of getting into medical school. In hindsight, I NEEDED MEDPREP. I performed as well as I did in medical school due to the training that I had in the vigorous curriculum of MEDPREP.

I stayed at Southern Illinois University for Medical School and did quite well. All things considered, it was a good ride. As anyone at a majority school, being Black in medicine, I'd always look for whom I can relate to and trust. There was a group of about 10 of us in my class. We stuck together, along with the few in each of the other classes and made our presence known in the community by hosting Black history month programs and volunteering in the community. Luckily, I didn't have many issues, being Black in Medicine, but I can say that I met who some of my classmates really were during the clinical years of our program as I was singled out a few times with an attempt, I felt, of sabbotage. I can truly say that God had my back every time and I always came out on top!

I married by husband prior to going into MEDPREP and we spent the 2 years of MEDPREP and the 4 years of medical school in a long distance marriage. In my final year of medical school, I interviewed for spots in OBGYN and Family Medicine. I interviewed mainly in the south east so that I could be closer to him. As you can imagine, leaving my next steps in training to a computer system certainly made me uneasy, but I knew I had to trust the process. I ended up matching at my number one choice at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS. We were finally able to exhale because we knew that we'd be in the same home, for the first time, after 6 years of marriage.

In 2015, I graduated medical school and moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where I currently live and practice. I'm finally rockin' out as a physician, as my 4 year old self dreamt all those years ago. I can truly say that I'm grateful to God for all the struggles, because it made my journey and my appreciation for practicing medicine that much sweeter.

For those of you who have had some hurdles, keep pushing! You CAN WIN and You WILL WIN if you persevere! Do your part and put the rest in God's hands because he wants you to TRUST in the process.

Of course, as you can imagine, there's so much more to this story. I'd love to share it with you sometime! Book me as a your next motivational speaker!

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