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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


  1. Ezinne

    June 13, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    What a beautiful article Jemimah, and you have a beautiful name! My dad wanted me to be a doctor, I knew I wasn’t cutout for sciences, I was too social to want to be anything scientific, but he wanted his only daughter to be a doctor, he filled my Jamb form and enrolled me for medicine, I got to school for exams and switched to mass comm, unqualified. I was advised later to read economics since I liked maths, so I struggled and made it out of school. Today I write fashion as a hubby (Though I used to be employed as a fashion writer) Now I am a programmer – I write c++, and it’s the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. I was never scared, I always knew what I wanted, and even when they’d show me a path and make me tow it, I made sure that I found another avenue to be happy until I was independent enough to make my own choices. Well done Jemimah.(My best friend in Kaduna had the same name. I love the name)

  2. Lol

    June 13, 2017 at 3:12 pm


  3. Anulika

    June 13, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve just embarked on my one year posting for NYSC and I can’t tell you how much help this has been in putting things in perspective for me. Thank you..

  4. Hmmm

    June 13, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    The worst thing any parent would do is to force their child to study medicine. Medicine should be a passion and totally by choice…this is because the training is rigorous. …endless studying, it completely takes over your life. It’s a very jealous profession as you have little or no room for anything else.
    I’m speaking from experience…when I was in medical school…we had some of our classmates develop mental health issues while studying in the heat of professional exams.
    Plus practicing as a doctor, one needs empathy…dedication to duties….it’s not something to be forced into.
    I know parents want the best for their kids and medicine is one profession where you’re hardly out of a job….there’s a global shortage of doctors…if Nigeria is frustrating you, many other countries will welcome you with open arms.
    Still, it’s no reason to force a child. Instead, find out your child’s interest, passion and skills and groom him/her to excel in it…the sky will always be the limit.

  5. Tosin

    June 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Sleep-lover: #goals
    Glad you’re having so much fun. I’m going off to check out your blog. Thanks for writing this.

  6. Physio Tinu Olarewaju

    June 13, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Skip medicine, be a physiotherapist.
    Thank me later. lol

    • Lol

      June 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm

      Handling those bariatric patients and forever going up and down the stairs – everyone has to find their own niche. Why physiotherapy, why not sports medicine – that’s the richness of the world – too many options when we open our minds and hearts!

    • Ingrid

      June 13, 2017 at 11:02 pm

      Yay!! Yes o! I’m in Physical Therapy school… year to go…….. ?

  7. hatersgonhate

    June 14, 2017 at 11:38 am

    You truly dodged a bullet. My children must not make this mistake.

  8. Doc

    June 14, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Good article. I went through medical school under pressure to please every one. I hated it. I practised clinical medicine for a while, hated it but nobody understood.

    Today I’m in a field of Medicine that is more preventive than curative. I’m loving it all the way. It took a while to get here but it was well worth the wait.

    So I totally understand. It’s not for everybody. God bless dear.

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