Tuesday, December 20, 2011

From Biology Labs to Nigeria—A Journey of Vocation

Ever since she was a child, Damilola Junaid ’14 wanted to pursue a career in medicine. A biology major from Nigeria, she has spent the last few years at Gordon College cultivating her passion—research medicine. But when she began her sophomore year at Gordon, she came to classes with a new experience to share with her fellow pre-med students—an internship in Nigeria.

Last summer, Junaid asked her brother if she could start working in his Nigerian hospital to gain more hands-on experience in the field. He agreed and as a result, she shadowed her brother—a surgeon and physician—watching surgeries and working directly with patients, bringing her Gordon textbooks to life. “I really wanted to see how I’d react while observing surgery," she said. “It is one thing to observe a surgery on TV, and another to observe one in real life.”

As her internship progressed, her days soon became packed as she divided her time between different departments in the hospital. She shadowed medical rounds, helped check on patients before, during and after surgeries, and she also listened to weekly presentations that involved informing various departments about new drugs and technology for treatment. From her observations within the walls of the OR and the trauma unit, Junaid was in the trenches of African medicine. Because she’s especially interested in diagnostic medicine, Junaid paid close attention to different approaches doctors used to treat patients.

In general, Junaid felt prepared for her internship. She credits her Gordon professors for giving her the knowledge and experience she needed for this experience. (Her professors have always emphasized learning material instead of just studying for an exam.) Most notably, her knowledge of some medical terminologies from her Anatomy and Physiology course played a significant role in her interactions with the physicians in Nigeria. “My brother was surprised at my knowledge of medicine—and this gave me a great sense of accomplishment and competence," she said. In this experience, she realized how well Gordon was providing a solid foundation for a career in medicine.

Now that she’s back in the States, Junaid continues to explore the many fields of medicine. Her time working in Africa provided the confirmation she needed to continue in her vocation, and it has also intensified her curiosity to explore research-based medicine.

Photo: Junaid and her brother in the operating room.

Story by Gordon student Rebekah Connell ’15, an English major from New York and student writer for the Office of College Communications.

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