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Janet Nwuakoni
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Janet Nwaukoni

OMS II

Future Goals: My current desire is to become an OB/GYN specializing in Maternal Fetal Medicine. I also have a special interest in International Women’s Health, so my hopes are to engage in health policy work with the World Health Organization.

Minorities in Medicine who have inspired you: First and foremost, my mom, a nurse working in Brooklyn, NY has always served as my driving force and biggest cheerleader! Since my time at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), Dr. Monique Gary, a PCOM alumna who currently works as a Surgical Breast Oncologist at Grand View Health, has inspired me. Her trailblazing efforts to succeed in Surgery while many doubted her ability always keeps me encouraged. Not only does she walk the walk, but talks the talk, allowing students to shadow her and actively coming back to campus to teach hands-on skills and sessions on how to succeed in medicine.

Describe a hardship you’ve faced as a minority student pursuing medicine: As a woman of color interested in research and academic medicine, I am constantly working hard to not only strengthen my research skills but to justify the need for research and funding in topics affecting women of African ancestry, like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or Sickle Cell Anemia. I was once told that there was no need for this “type” of research and ever since, while initially discouraged, have used that as my motivation to impact the world of research.

Advice for URMs who want to pursue medicine: Never be afraid to ask for help! Many people lack the courage to ask others for assistance, whether its administration, faculty members, or peers. Knowledge is LIFE! It’s empowering and instead of re-creating the wheel, seek guidance from those who precede you in order to make wise, informed decisions.

How do you feel empowered in your community? Serving as Co-President of the Student National Medical Association, I have the opportunity to help create a supportive, resourceful environment for underrepresented minority students at PCOM. Our impact extends beyond PCOM walls and into neighboring schools, churches, and community centers, where we forget the rigor of medical school and remember that we persevere to increase access to those limited to health care and continue the legacy that was created by trailblazers before us.