Success Begins With The Decision To Try: Overcoming Barriers & Embracing Diversity in Medicine

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” – Walt Disney

This quote resonates with me on such a personal level. Have you ever had anyone tell you that your dreams are impossible? I have…multiple times. And it’s a great feeling to prove them wrong.

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My road to becoming a physician was certainly not a traditional one. As a female minority with a background in electrical engineering, I wasn’t the "typical" medical school applicant. Throughout my journey, I’ve faced countless challenges and setbacks along with a fair share of doubters who tried to bring me down. I’ve encountered racial discrimination so frequently that at one point I became accustomed to it. I’ve felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously by my colleagues because of my gender. I’ve been prejudiced against by my very own patients. I’ve had others assume that I was incompetent and inexperienced given my young age. I’ve felt defeated in so many ways. Although these struggles were difficult to endure, they helped shape me into a stronger person and a more compassionate healer.

Overcoming these barriers helped build my confidence and fueled the fire to chase my ambition of becoming a doctor. I’ve finally found my voice, and I hope to help empower others who are currently struggling with these issues. The following steps helped me rise above my obstacles, pursue my dreams, and develop a positive mindset regarding my unique background. My hope is that sharing my tips and experiences will help inspire a generation of amazing and diverse young minds follow their dreams.

1. Know that your future is worth it.

Everyone deserves a chance to achieve success. The first step to achieving success is realizing that YOU are worth it. Your FUTURE is worth it. Your SUCCESS is worth it. Embrace your diverse background and allow your unique experiences to make you stronger. Coming from a different background means you have something new to bring to the table. With enough dedication, hard work, and determination, you CAN and WILL make a difference.

2. Identify your barriers.

Success begins with the decision to try. One of the most important steps to success is to recognize how you can move past the barriers that are hindering you from success. These barriers may include financial struggles, lack of emotional or social support, time constraints, family responsibilities, etc. My biggest tip is to reach out to family, friends, or external resources to assist with coming up with a solution. No person is an island, and we have the ability to thrive when we seek the help of others.

3. Get up and try again.

There will be times when you feel like you’ve failed. The most important thing is to pick yourself back up and keep going. KNOW that you can do this. Remember that each failure and mistake teaches us something new. You’ve made it this far in life, and nothing can bring you down now.

4. Have confidence in yourself.

Make your presence known and own it! Being a female minority, I often struggled with my confidence and self-esteem. I used to be shy and soft spoken, especially when speaking to superiors that intimidated me. It eventually donned on me that having confidence in yourself will allow others to have confidence in you as well. Believe in yourself and you’ll be unstoppable.

5. Embrace your success.

One day you’ll look back and realize that everything you worked for was worth it. This is your time to shine! Remember to give back and encourage others who are struggling with the same barriers you’ve faced. Don’t’ be afraid to share your story because you never know who you’ll inspire!


About the author:

Audrey Sue Cruz, MD is a third year internal medicine resident in Southern California who attended medical school at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. Prior to medical school, she studied and received her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. However she found that her passion for medicine and her love of math and science lead her to become a doctor, her true calling. Outside of work, Audrey Sue enjoys traveling and seeking new adventures. Follow Audrey Sue on Instagram