Ekene Ajufo was born in Nigeria, but moved shortly after birth and spent some of her childhood all around the world. When her parents settled in the United States, she gained early experience in the medical field. Her father, a pediatrician going through residency. Her mother, a practicing registered nurse. In high school, she spent significant time volunteering at a local hospital while balancing a rigorous curriculum as a student in the International Baccalaureate program. Following high school, she attended the University of Florida (UF) and majored in Applied Physiology & Kinesiology with a specialization in Exercise Science. She participated in clinical and lab research throughout her college career and published an abstract while attending UF. Continuing her pursuits of the medical field, she currently attends Temple University School of Medicine where she is a 4th year medical student applying to Pediatric residency programs.
Interview Questions asked by SNMA National Vice-Chairperson of the Publications Committee , Jonathan R. Batson.
Good day Ekene, thank you for joining me to answer questions about your career path and journey in medicine for our premedical membership. It is much appreciated.
1. What inspired you to pursue becoming a doctor?
Seeing how much my father’s patients appreciated what he did for them and their families was incredible to me. I also enjoyed learning about the intricacies of the human body and diseases that can affect it as a young child.
2. What challenges did you face as an undergraduate & medical student? Was there ever a time when you felt discouraged or someone discouraged you from being a doctor? How did you handle that?
As a freshman, I decided to major in Biology because that was what every student who wanted to go to medical school pretty much was advised to do. I struggled in classes that were required for the major because I was not interested in learning about animal and plant biology. I knew I was going to work with humans and wanted to learn about the human body, it’s physiology, anatomy, and pathophysiology. I was told about another major that incorporated all of that: Applied Physiology & Kinesiology. I decided to go against the standard and switched my major. It was the best decision I ever made at that time in my life. I ended up excelling in my classes because I was genuinely interested in the course material and saw its relevance to my future career goals.
3. How did you balance the demands of your medical education with additional obligations and challenges?
I made a schedule for myself and treated medical school like a job. Once it hit 5pm, I was done with school for the day and did other things for myself. I could leave everything “at the office” and focus my attention on my other obligations or take time out for myself to do things I enjoy like working out and cooking.
4. Please describe your participation in special programs such as volunteer work, research,or study-abroad opportunities during medical school.
I participate in Student National Medical Association at the local and regional level at my medical school. I also participated in research the summer of my first year of medical school.
5. Did you partake in any summer enrichment programs as an undergrad?
No, I spent my summers taking summer classes to fulfill my pre-med requirements.
6. Why does diversity matter not only in medical education, but in the field as well?
The people we treat, our patients, are diverse. In order to best serve them, it is important that we have an open mind to know the nuances that come with having such a diverse patient population. This makes communication better, which makes you a much better-rounded physician.
7. What advice do you have for premedical students who are embarking on a career in medicine?
Find something you love and pursue it. If you are passionate about something, do not stifle that passion, but let it take you to incredible places. Medicine has become so diverse and the admissions committees realize that and therefore look for a diverse student class. Gone are the days of needing to be a science major to become a physician. Your experience in undergrad can help you go far as a physician later on. For example, my major taught me a lot about fitness and this is something I currently am known for by my attendings. I have the opportunity to speak to patients about exercise and nutrition in a much more impactful way because of my background. In the future, I hope to specialize in pediatric weight management and I am thankful for that seemingly small decision to change my major in college.
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