For months after my college graduation I had been struggling with what to do with my future. I was continually praying and asking for guidance. I had earned a college degree in communication studies, but still had no direction or ideas about what I truly wanted to do with my life. Then, one day I went to church and had a realization about my purpose and how to move forward. The answer completely blew me away; it was becoming a doctor. I had never felt a calling to go to med school, and no one had ever suggested this a career path for me, but after more reflection, I realized that I had been inspired by the children who I interacted with on a daily basis as a school office manager.
While working at the school, I had thought through a number of career possibilities. I considered opening my own daycare or applying to secondary teaching programs, but I found my heart wasn’t invested in teaching. I moved from working as a substitute teacher to the office manager, and that is where I realized my passion for ensuring children receive proper healthcare. As the office manager, I had to serve as a proxy for the school nurse when she wasn’t in, and that’s when it clicked for me. I found so much joy when I helped the students who came into the office needing medical care. I have always had a passion for working with children, and when I saw the issues within the low-income community where the school was located, I wanted to identify how to be part of the solution to solve the health disparities of low-income families.
My main frustration was that I couldn’t do more to help the children at my school. Many of the students, ages 6 to 14, were on medications that caused terrible side effects. I couldn’t believe some of the health issues that these children and their parents had to deal with. A poignant moment for me was when one of our first grade students came into the office very lethargic. He was almost non-responsive and we had to call the ambulance to take him to the hospital. His grandmother came and she informed us that he was on a new medicine because he was having some behavior and anxiety issues. I was baffled that he was only six years old with these types of diagnosis and the medicine that was prescribed to him had these type of side effects. In that moment I knew that I wanted to go into pediatrics, so that I can serve in the communities with limited access to healthcare. I realized that I want to help parents make educated decisions about their children’s health. I finally felt like my passion for working with children had a purpose behind it.
I realize now that I had been receiving signs that medicine was right for me, but I was scared to acknowledge them. I would go over all the reasons why I shouldn’t go to medical school and the main factor was time. I felt that it would be such a long journey, I had just gotten married and I wanted to have children. However, after talking with my husband and praying more I stopped looking at the negatives and focused instead on the positives. When I weighed the obstacles against my potential as a physician, I acknowledged how I would be able to help others and truly make a difference.
How did I take the leap into such a long and enduring journey? The simplest answer is that I just decided to do it, but not without doing research first. I learned what courses I’d need to take before applying to medical school since I have no science background. I asked myself, am I really going to dedicate 9+ years to education and training? There is so much to do before I even start the daunting process of deciding which schools to apply to. Although the tasks ahead of me seem overwhelming, I am willing to search and learn because I am confident that this is my purpose.
At first, I thought I had to rush everything and that I needed to do things a specific way. As I move further into this journey, I am learning that how I get to medical school will be my unique story and that is what will make it all worth it. So whether you are a traditional or nontraditional student, enjoy your journey and take your time. Most importantly, remember there is nothing that can stop you if your mind is made up.
About Mytosha Dickerson
Mytosha is from New Orleans, LA and graduated from LSU in 2011 with a bachelor’s in communication studies. She recently got married will be attending the University of New Orleans to complete her prerequisites to apply for medical school for the fall 2019 admissions cycle. She hopes to volunteer at some of the local hospitals and will be shadowing a Hem-OC doctor at Children’s Hospital. She has been very lucky to have the support of her husband and family.