Finished elective rotations as a fourth-year medical student and began as a RUSM Simulation Teaching Assistant. I was continually blown away by the opportunity this position afforded me — to blossom into a physician leader and educator, who was able to give back and passionately invest in the success of others, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
I remembered gathering my thoughts and strategies toward the residency match application process as the application portal opened and I began researching and gathering letters of recommendation. My third year of medical school was decorated by so many wonderful remarks and acknowledgements from my peers and preceptors regarding my attitude toward internal medicine (IM). I had been greatly influenced by the work ethic, and positive patient-centered energy from the internists I had encountered; particularly, the fellows. I was actively involved in an Internal Medicine Foundations clerkship and amid projects involving the creation of physical exam modules based on IM concepts. I had submitted a small number of IM applications as a parallel plan to OBGYN.
As I reflected on my lifelong dream to become an OBGYN, I began to experience uncertainty and distress as I found it difficult to decide on a specialty 10 days before the rank order list was due. The last few days were very trying for my career and character.
I then received news that my mother in Africa contracted COVID-19 but, even without ventilators in her town, she miraculously recovered by oxygen through the nasal canula. Soon thereafter, my uncle was admitted into the hospital and died the day before one of my interviews.
Those events forced me to review my future and I realized that IM would provide less stress than surgical OBGYN. I decided I would feel more fulfilled to focus on raising awareness about the need for ventilators, leading intensive care unit (ICU) training workshops in global health initiatives and educating masses about preventative health. Other potential benefits included spending more time with my daughter and indulging in small business opportunities such as personal trainer activities that I began last year.
Match day came and I opened the email over a ZOOM call with my family. I knew on that day that I would be happy, no matter what the outcome, because I had relinquished control. Whatever the email said would be exactly what was meant to be. I was extremely overjoyed to see that I had matched at Northwell Health in New York.
I am now in New York with my 6-year-old, ready to serve the community of Queens, which advocates for diversity and inclusion and actively fills the disparities within the healthcare system based on social determinants of health.
I hope to one day develop a world-class intensive care unit at Dodoma Christina Medical Centre in Tanzania, in honor of my uncle.
Read more about Mbennah’s Match season in an earlier profile.
Best of luck to all this year’s Match candidates as they prepare for the 2022 cycle.