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Jamimah: No! I Do Not Want to be a Medical Doctor



As a young girl I loved serving and helping people. I eagerly played nurse, waitress and support system to my family. At the ripe old age of 6/7, relatives started asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

One of my favorite people was our family doctor. He had a great personality! He made everyone feel better without medication. He was very kind, attentive,patient, always had a smile on his face plus he was fine sha. He knew I hated injections and will always divert my attention to my favorite cartoons. If I was about to cry, he would say in hausa “Haba Jamimah za ki yi kuka domin karami alura?” {this little injection is going to make you cry, Jamimah?}

One day, I told my mom I wanted to be like him when I grew up. While I meant his personality, mom thought I was talking about his career. Ah trust Naija moms“I knew it! You want to be a medical doctor.” Too young to separate the difference,I accepted and celebrated it. Finally I had an answer for relatives! I will become a doctor. I will help people.

After my freshman year in college, story changed. At 17 I realized medical school was not for me.I was unhappy taking pre-med classes. I did several things to convince myself to enjoy the profession including observing a 5-hour open heart surgery. What I did not know, was that live organs and mass amount of blood makes me hungry. Other people faint, cry, vomit. Me? I get hungry.

Finally, I gave up forcing myself. The thought of calling my parents to say “Daddy, Mommy. I know you paid thousands of dollars for me to take these courses, but I don’t want to be a doctor” scared me. Before I got the guts to tell my parents, omo see prayer and fasting! Initially, my parents were upset and they had every right to be! I am super thankful and grateful they eventually turned around and supported my decision.

Even though I left the pre-med track, I still loved health. So I got one of my degrees in Health Sciences. I knew for a fact that I did not want to work in a hospital or prescribe medication. I wanted to work in the community, to meet people where they are. To prevent people from falling sick using nutrition, empathy and counseling. I wanted to work with them on a physical, mental and emotional level. Emotional and social health soon created a path for me. I am so happy I had the audacity to be true to myself.

Following my new path, I served as a peer-advisor at the School of  Health Professions and worked with many transfer and freshmen students. 7/10 wanted to be medical doctors, but they were unhappy. They were either living a parent’s dream or trying to prove something.

Currently working with the migrant population, I run into aspiring medical doctors who hate it and feel immensely pressured by family/society. I have much respect for the medical field and I am surrounded by doctors in my family.I understand that parents, out of love, want the best for their kids. But let’s face it. It is not for everyone. I will pass along the advice someone gave me

Tell Yourself The Truth
There’s a difference between laziness and unhappiness. If you are giving it your all, doing the work, coming to class but you have no joy, then stop. I passed all my classes in flying colors, so imagine the shock when I told my parents I didn’t want to be a doctor. Just because you excel at something does not mean you derive joy from it.

Do Not Feel Bad
Guilt tore me up! The fact that I cost my parents so much money. I felt like I was abusing the opportunities afforded me. I felt like a horrible child. I felt like I had a problem. Why couldn’t I just be happy in the pre-med track? I realized I needed to embrace who I was. I changed my major and it’s okay.We are all given different gifts and passions.

Take the pressure off you. You are not supposed to be perfect! You WILL mess up. But it’s okay! Life is full of mistakes, you are not the first, nor will you be last. Have the balls to walk away from anything that does not make you happy.You do not have to prove yourself to anyone. You are beautiful, handsome, intelligent,smart.etc most of all you are enough. Just you.

Get Creative
Maybe what you are passionate about does not make money. However, where there is a will, there is a way. Who thought bloggers or make-up artists will make so much money? But they do. They work hard, are creative and live their passion. In the beginning you might have to soak garri but eventually you will become successful! It is a journey.

Believe In Yourself
Easier said than done. I wish there was a formula. Truth is, some days you will wake up and doubt yourself. You will be mad at yourself, feel intimidated, give up like 1000000 times. But then you will feel so much peace, such joy and pride in yourself. One day you will realize no one has all the answers. That what matters, is doing what gives you joy. My dear, life is too short to be unhappy.

Photo Credit: Nikolay Mamluke |

Jamimah is a West African immigrant based in the USA who uses her education and experience in health sciences, sociology and multicultural studies to assist other migrants on issues pertaining to adjusting to life in a foreign country. She is a speaker, dancer, international liaison,podcaster,blogger and avid sleep lover. Check out her blog on www. and on Instagram @olagbenle


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