I call myself a walking “Telenovela” (Spanish Soap Opera) when I start to think about everything I’ve experienced in only 29 years of life…
Being an army wife and living in other countries and states before I was 21? Utterly astounding.
Going through childbirth? Most difficult pain in the world.
Getting divorced in my early 20’s due to domestic violence? Unimaginable pain and heartache.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer the week of my 26th birthday? I thought my world was over and I would leave my daughter on this earth without a mother…
… But none of those life-altering things could have prepared me for the whirlwind journey I was about to begin and experience when it became public knowledge that I was going to have a massive career change and leave corporate America behind to pursue my original love of medicine…
“What are you pursuing, Nursing?” No. I am pre-med pursuing my M.D. or D.O. dependent upon potential school acceptance. Response: “Really, why not just do nursing?”
“But no one in your family is a doctor, how can you know what it’s like or if you’re even really cut out for it?”
“You’re a single mother that is selfish to your daughter to not be there for her every event anymore.”
“I never met a doctor that was a Dominican woman."
“I cannot understand what you’re saying with your accent; I want your partner to examine me” one patient's request, as my EMT partner is Caucasian.
“Underrepresented minorities get a free pass into medical school with low stats” said from a fellow student whose GPA and MCAT was significantly lower than mine.
As I was walking down the street in scrubs: “I like your scrubs what kind of nurse are you, or are you in nursing school?”
All these quotes and more are what I have encountered over the last couple of years since changing my professional life path. Nothing is wrong with nursing in the least, it is an integral piece of healthcare that keeps the well-oiled machine together. However, it is not my life’s journey and to have the assumption made that I could not possibly be pursuing anything other than nursing is offensive. I must constantly remind myself how far we have come since the past few decades, but I know that even in 2018 we still have so far to go and somedays it seems we have not come very far at all.
Let me be clear - I know the odds are stacked against me: I am a woman, I am a mother of a child under 10, I am an Afro-Latina, I am first generation pre-med and a non-traditional candidate… the list goes on and on. But rather than deter me, these facts fuel me like a log to a fireplace. Every challenge I have set for myself I have done my best to knock out of the water. As a result of my perserverance and dedication I have accomplished so much: becoming an EMT, multiple honor society inductions as an active member, high GPA, high MCAT, surviving breast cancer, being in leadership roles as a volunteer, delivering speeches at my school and spreading awareness as a survivor.
I am raising my daughter to explore what makes her happy and help her discover her passion. She wants to become a veterinarian. This is a constant motivation as well: “Mommy since you help take care of people I want to take care of animals…” and in doing so I keep myself going knowing she’s counting and depending on me.
That is why I cannot give up.
For every man that asks me why I do not want to be a nurse instead of doctor; this is why I will not give up.
For the sexism I get as an EMT assuming that I cannot hold my own in the field; this is why I will not give up.
For the little girl playing Veterinarian in her mini lab coat and Hello Kitty scrubs that I kiss goodnight as I tuck her into bed; this is why I will not give up.
For the little Afro-Latina who dreams of being a doctor but is surrounded by such a dismal environment living in the Dominican Republic and does not think it will ever happen, this is why I will not give up.
I claim here and now that I will be another name on the list of women of color who are breaking barriers in the medical profession to strive to be the best provider I can to my patients and helping to uplift future female minority pre-meds who come after me. All while striving to empower other women, and help change stigmas and stereotypes one white coat and set of credentials at a time until we end extreme adversity and break down the barriers in medicine.
So to all those who are going through their own challenges and doubts: Never underestimate your capabilities, you’re more powerful than you know and never let anyone dull your sparkle, keep shining, the world needs you!
About the author:
Brianna Armour is a Certified EMT with the State of New Jersey and is currently pursuing her education as a pre-med professional track Graduate level student. She is a proud two-year survivor of Breast Cancer and is a mom of both human and fur babies; in her spare time, she enjoys spending it with her family, traveling, wine tastings, checking the latest beauty releases, shopping and volunteering with organizations she is passionate about including raising awareness for breast cancer in young women and feeding the hungry and homeless. Follow Brianna on Instagram.