While many of us have gained a newfound understanding of the challenges that doctors face in their line of work, most of us are still unaware of the requirements to enter the medical profession.
Achieving excellent grades in the most challenging courses, extensive preparation for the MCAT exam, undergoing rigorous testing, participating in medical school interviews, and finally gaining admission into medical school, along with the associated costs, are just the beginning. After that, medical graduates must complete a residency program where they are assigned to a specific hospital, often in a location that may not be their preference, to specialize in their field and gain further experience before beginning their professional careers.
Cynthia Kudji arrived in the United States from Ghana at the age of 17 with the goal of becoming a doctor through this process. However, while she was a senior at Tulane University pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, she learned that she was pregnant with her daughter Jasmine.
Although she completed her undergraduate degree, the challenges of medical school had to be postponed.
Despite this setback, Cynthia did not put her career aspirations on hold entirely. While raising her daughter, she pursued nursing studies at William Carey University instead, and later earned a Master’s degree in nursing from Loyola University in 2006.
Although Cynthia worked as a nurse for ten years, her desire to become a doctor persisted.
After her daughter Jasmine became an adult, Cynthia made the decision to enroll in medical school.
Meanwhile, Jasmine had also chosen to pursue her own ambitions and was able to do so without any hindrance. She attended Louisiana State University where she majored in English and completed all her pre-med coursework.
Jasmine also pursued a medical degree and enrolled in medical school.
“Growing up, I saw that being a physician was a position of service, and I really valued that,” Jasmine told NBC News. “I could see myself doing that from a young age.”
Cynthia attended the University of Medicine and Health Sciences in St. Kitts, while her daughter Jasmine pursued her medical degree at Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans. Despite being in different locations, they supported each other through study sessions via Skype and motivated each other through challenging exams and coursework.
“I think initially it was difficult because my mom and I have always been really close so I had to get used to the distance, we had to learn how to FaceTime and Skype each other, so we were Skyping each other every day and whenever I had struggles and she had struggles, we just had to learn to communicate from a distance,” Jasmine told The UMHS Endeavour. “But I think over time we figured it out.”
However, they will no longer be separated in their next stage. As newly-minted doctors, both will need to complete their residency programs to specialize in their chosen fields, which can take an additional 2-7 years depending on the area of expertise.
Cynthia has decided to specialize in Family Medicine, while Jasmine has chosen to pursue General Surgery as her area of expertise.
On March 20th, which was known as “Match Day,” both Cynthia and Jasmine received surprising news. This was the day when doctors discover which medical institutions have accepted them as prospective residents. It was an extremely competitive process, and doctors have very little control over their placement unless they are accepted into multiple residency programs.
However, on that morning, the mother-daughter pair received an email informing them that they had both been matched to Louisiana State University Health!
This was one of the rare instances where a mother and daughter have both been matched to the same hospital after graduating from medical school simultaneously.
Both Cynthia and Jasmine are thrilled about their future prospects and feel privileged to be able to support each other in the same location as they navigate this challenging phase of their careers.
“We were so excited,” Jasmine told NBC. “Our life has never been planned, and you never know what’s going to happen. It was one of the best moments of my life.”
The doctors scheduled to commence their work on July 1st, 2020.