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Kendall Johnson, Medical Student

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What is your current title and role?

Medical Student at California University of Science and Medicine; MBA candidate Texas A&M University Corpus Christi; JD candidate Syracuse University College of Law

Where did you grow up?

Sacramento, California

Tell us about struggles and challenges in achieving your goal and how you overcame?

As an underrepresented minority in the professional world, there will always be people who do not believe you deserve what you have worked for. Success is the best way to shut them up.

Please share with us about your family and your support group?

I am part of a loving family of 5; I have one brother and one sister in addition to my father and mother. My mother was the last of 14 children, so I have a very large extended family and family reunions are a ball. My sister is currently in undergraduate school, and my brother is in his second year of law school.

Please share a memorable experience from your training that has stayed with you till today.

I went to speak with my university counselor about graduating early and she tried to do everything in her power to convince and coerce me to remain at undergrad for 4 years, possibly more. I knew from that moment that I needed to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Please share a highlight from your practice/current role.

A highlight of medical school for me is the crowd that you are surrounded by. All of a sudden you arrive and everyone you meet is, frankly, amazing. On top of being outstanding academically, everyone has their own peculiar pastime or hobby that they excel in and most still manage to be exceedingly gracious and humble. It is a truly humbling and awe-inspiring experience to be able to study and grow in that milieu.

What do you like and dislike the most about working in healthcare?

What I like most in healthcare include being part of the team committed to caring and providing safe, equitable, and compassionate  patient centered care . What I dislike most about healthcare is that it attracts many people who are in it solely for the money. Very little opportunity is given for rural and other underserved areas to get the healthcare personnel they need, as most people only want to live in the upscale parts of global cities.

What are three things that you are grateful for?

Three things I am grateful for:

My family

The boundless opportunity God has granted me

Good food

What excites you outside medicine?

I love travel and learning languages and experiencing new cultures, especially the food! I enjoy looking at nature and wandering in nice landscapes.

What advice do you have for students interested in healthcare?

My advice is to read a lot and research everything. Pursue what you want to do like your life depends on it. If you are worried about cost, google all you can about how to finance your education, personal finance, financial know-how etc. If you are worried about gap years, academics, etc.: the same. There are so many resources available if you look. It is an art, but if you research enough, you get good at finding good resources to help you. Once you gather all of the information and advice you can, weigh the options and see how it all fits with your values and goals.

What do you think the student of today needs to be successful in matriculating and graduating from professional school (medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy)

I think a most important skill one needs is to be extremely tenacious. Be stubborn in achieving your goals. Where there is a will, there is a way. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to those around you. It is difficult to sustain your determination and tenacity alone; with like-minded people around you it is easier for everyone to support each other and encourage one another.

How would you advise or guide students to develop leadership skills, community outreach experience, research opportunities and clinical shadowing?

Honestly, the best way to go about this is to find someone who can link you with these opportunities. I know it is not fun to hear, but when you are just one of many students applying for a position and the reviewer does not know you, it is a terrible place to be. I know, because I have been on that side of the equation many, many times. Not everyone will want to help you, but there ARE many people with a vested interest in your success and will be more than happy to help. Networking is everything when it comes to opportunities. This applies to job opportunities later on as well. It is a difficult thing that does not come naturally to everyone (does not come naturally to me), but it can really make a huge difference in your life. When you do find someone, who is willing to go out on a limb for you and help you, thank them and thank God and the universe every single day for the opportunity. It really makes a huge difference in your life, and graciousness and humility in receiving these wonderful blessings will take you very, very far.

How can we support and guide students to achieve good grades and be successful in standardized exams?

Standardized exams are very clearly biased. I know, because my whole business is tutoring for the MCAT. The best way to get good at taking an exam is to practice taking the exam. It is not a test of intellect nor hard work nor anything other than “are you familiar with the exam, the exam format, the question format etc.” So, the solution is to increase access to test prep materials and the ability for students to have familiarity with the testing environment, questions, format, etc. For good grades, it is a similar prospect: you have to read the syllabus, and learn what the professor expects, either from the professor themselves or from others who have taken their classes. The class is a game, where your goal is to get the highest score possible. The syllabus lays out the rules of the game and how you get your points. If you follow the rules of the game and play it well, then you will at least pass, and likely get at least a B except for in the most difficult of classes. Again, take advantage of any opportunities available and try to utilize mentors and the internet as much as possible.