1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hello! I’m Courtney Dudley from Cleveland, Ohio. I’m a rising senior at Ohio University with a Biological Sciences major and additional minors of Spanish and Community and Public Health. I’ll be applying to medical school over the summer!
I always search to reinvent myself through some new hobby or opportunity for more depth and knowledge on important topics such as human trafficking and trauma informed care. I aspire to constantly challenge myself and persevere through any experience or situation, so I continue to grow and never lose passion and zest for life. I’ve created a bucket list with hopes to explore the Amazon rainforest, play an extra for a Hollywood film, run a half marathon, surf, go on a yoga retreat, and many other dreams.
2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? Señora Chadima truly influenced me and ignited the passion I have for Spanish, the language, the history, the culture and traditions. She taught me valuable lessons about life beyond the classroom such as cultural competence, empathy, critical thinking, and communication skills. I had her for 2 years of Spanish class, and then senior year of high school, I traveled to Spain with her and some other students over winter break for a cultural immersion experience. We visited many cities including Madrid, Granada, Seville, Toledo, and Gibraltar. I hope to use Spanish within practice someday!
3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? With Law & Order: SVU and Bones on repeat at the house, I quickly developed an interest and gravitated towards human rights and criminal justice. Issues of mass incarceration, human trafficking, wealth inequality, and health care access led to the recognition of disparities and inequity specifically within the United States. I desired to become a lawyer for most of my childhood. By high school, I noticed how I always felt passionate to serve others, to tend and take care of them. I found an amazing opportunity for an internship with the Cleveland Clinic, and we explored many health care professions and ultimately sparked my enthusiasm for a career as a physician.
4. What area of medicine are you interested in? I’m interested in Geriatrics and Orthopedic Surgery. I volunteered at the veterans hospital, Louis Stokes Medical Center, in Cleveland with the geriatric research department. I had conversations with many of the elderly veterans who suffer from chronic pain, and it’s heartbreaking to know how much neglect and mistreatment they experience. Our health care system does not provide well end-of-life care and geriatric care management. I hope to support and serve them the best way I can to improve their quality of life, so they maintain independence as long as possible. I’m extremely fascinated by surgery, especially because of the immediate gratification of hands-on action to identify and solve the problem. I had the privilege to witness a kidney transplant surgery, brain and spinal cord surgery, and heart pacemaker surgery.
5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? I spent last summer 2018 with the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods at Case Western Reserve University as a student intern. The internship went above and beyond the expectations I had for the summer! I’ve gained a new, broader outlook on health issues with a community-based perspective; it’s not as simple to say ‘well, they should just eat fruits and vegetables, and they should simply be more physically active’. Health inequities and other social determinants create the disparities between neighborhoods, where further issues rise such as, access, affordability, convenience, and safety.
A key takeaway of the internship results from the impact of resident involvement. We worked closely with the resident leaders and CHWs + CHAs at the outreach events. I got to hear many personal stories about how they strive ‘to create change and make an impact’ within the community. They desire to give back to the community that raised them, and it’s a remarkable thing to witness first-hand the passion and enthusiasm they possess to engage with other local residents. They inspire me!
6. What is your favorite book? The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It played an intensive role on my journey towards medicine. It’s a multi-faceted book that covers Henrietta’s life, the research of Skloot and the Lacks family, the topics of bioethics and informed consent, and the story behind the HeLa cells. It intertwines a personal family story with an accessible overview of HeLa and cell culture research. The overlap between the Lacks family and the world of scientific research enabled Skloot to stimulate conversation and debate over scientific ethics, racism and poverty.
7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. A unique, special hobby I have stems from the curiosity and true interest of family history and ancestry. I recently took the Ancestry DNA test, and I quickly discovered that I have roots around the world! I’d depict myself as a true historian and expert researcher on genealogy because I have investigated into our family tree for several years, and I hope to one day travel on an expedition, such as an ancestry journey. I would visit many places and experience the cultures, traditions, and lifestyles!
8. If you couldn’t be a doctor, what would you want to do? I’d be a human rights lawyer as an advocate for others who have suffered from injustice, persecution and civil rights violations. Or I’d be a public health analyst for the NIH and implement sustainable resources to many communities that face an unfair burden of poor health within low-income, under-resourced neighborhoods, specifically in populations of color, youth, and older adults. The strong interest I possess for community and public health comes from the importance of prevention and health education for all.
9. What has been your biggest obstacle as a premed and how did you (or are you) overcome it? I’m truly grateful for every experience over the course of my premed journey. However, I’ve struggled with time-management and confidence. Once I started college, I immediately thought that I must continually find clubs, organizations, volunteer and outreach opportunities to be involved with. Then, I became horrendously overwhelmed and never had the courage to say ‘no’ to any opportunity; I didn’t want to have regret of a missed opportunity. I exhausted all my energy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. With much responsibility, I barely had time to take care of myself. I worried and worked tirelessly until I couldn’t sustain the constant pressure and unspoken competitive atmosphere of other premed students. I had to reevaluate and finally decide what I’ll let go, so I’m able to balance my life and set boundaries over what’s important. Physicians must prioritize self-care! I remind myself often that I’m confirmed and affirmed by God, and I have an amazing support system of family, friends, and mentors.
10. What do you like most about Diverse Medicine? Diverse Medicine provides support and a platform for many students to network and share with each other personal testimonies. It’s a wonderful way to learn and ask questions from others willing to encourage me on my journey. I’m inspired by many other students and appreciate the articles and opportunity for connections
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