Interview with Jayda Watkins, MD and Jayla Watkins, MD

The journey through medical school is no easy feat, but Dr. Jayda Watkins and Dr. Jayla Watkins embraced the challenge together. From womb mates to study buddies to now, physicians, these twins turned their dreams of becoming doctors into reality. 

Jayda Watkins, MD

Dr. Jayda Watkins is an incoming pediatrics resident. 

Jayla Watkins, MD

Dr. Jayla Watkins is an incoming OB/ GYN resident. 

Why did you decide to go into medicine? 

Jayda: I decided to go into medicine because I saw the lack of representation that was present and wanted to be a part of the movement that diversifies the field! I was fortunate enough to attend Xavier University of Louisiana, a Historically Black College or University/HBCU where I was exposed to so many mentors that were of similar racial/ethnic backgrounds to me.  It showed me that my goals were achievable and inspired me to continue pursuing my dreams of one day becoming a doctor!

Jayla: Pursuing medicine has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember (around the age of 8/9). I had always had a fascination with the human body and spent a lot of time watching shows like "Monsters Inside Me" growing up. Outside of the initial attraction to medicine, growing up in Milwaukee, WI there weren't many people who looked like me in the healthcare field. After attending my Historically Black College and University/HBCU at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, I experienced for one of the first times in my life representation in all aspects (doctors, professors, research scientists etc.). It was here that I became truly committed to pursuing a field that is historically racially underrepresented so that I could be an inspiration and resource for others, unlike what I saw growing up.


What led you to choosing your specialties? 

Jayda:  I fell in love with Pediatrics due to the mentorship & advocacy that the specialty provides! I originally fell in love with medicine due to the mentors that were in my corner motivating me to pursue my passions and strive for greatness.  I attribute my trajectory and where I am today to the sound advice and guidance that I have received throughout these past couple of years. To be able to serve as a guide to adolescents who are in a vulnerable position is an aspect of Pediatrics that I hold close to my heart.  I hope to continue to inspire youth as I move along in my medical journey!

Jayla: Coming into medical school, I was actually very committed to pursuing a specialty in Psychiatry, as many of my extra curricular activities during the first two years of school were heavily Psych related. However, Ob/Gyn was my very first rotation of 3rd year and during my first delivery, my mind was completely scrambled in the best way possible. I had no idea how much I loved the hands-on nature of the specialty. With the versatility of pace in the OR, clinic, and delivering babies, I felt like this was the perfect specialty for my personality. I also have a strong passion for community engagement and this field gives me a unique opportunity to address health disparities that exist as it relates to sexual health, maternal mortality rates, and gynecologic malignancies. I also felt as if I could hold on to a little bit of the Psych aspect, especially interacting with and uplifting patients who have experienced multiple miscarriages or postpartum depression. 


Who is your biggest inspiration? 

Jayda: I would have to say that my biggest inspiration are my grandparents, Shelton & Brenda Watkins.  My grandparents grew up sharecropping in the deep South and were fortunate enough to transition to Milwaukee after graduating from Lane College.  It was there that my grandfather became a science teacher within the Milwaukee Public School System.  My grandparents had my father who eventually became a Pharmacist.  It's been truly humbling to know that my grandparents started from such a difficult background and were able to inspire my father, my sister and I to pursue a career in medicine.  They've supported me so much throughout my journey and I owe a huge amount of my success to their perseverance and hope of a better tomorrow.

Jayla: My biggest inspiration is my sister Jayda, as cliche as that sounds but it's true! It's been a unique experience going through life's major and minor milestones with her. She's been present since our dreams of becoming doctors were just dreams. Our journey hasn't been easy and there have been struggles along the way. After each setback, Jayda's mentality has always remained positive and motivating. I specifically remember receiving my MCAT score for the first time and how devastated I was at my result. Though I was upset and felt discouraged, her immediate reaction was to encourage me and say that I would do better on the next try. She has this special ability to be extremely supportive and nurturing during life's toughest moments. She inspires me to keep things in perspective and to never let hurdles prevent me from reaching the finish line. 


What has it been like having your twin with you throughout your medical school journey? 

Jayda: It has been such an amazing experience having my sister along with me throughout my medical school journey! There's nothing like having one of the people that knows you the most through a difficult transition period.  Everyone says that learning information in medical school is like drinking water out of fire hydrant and the initial months of studying were akin to this metaphor.  The best part of this journey has been having a built in study buddy/a person to vent too when times got stressful. I'd say the worst part was sometimes getting confused for each other by members of the different services we rotated through.  It definitely made for laughable moments  when attendings or residents would approach me and assume I was my sister or vice versa.  Throughout medical school, I truly feel that we have grown into better versions of ourselves.  While simultaneously having each other by each other's side, we have also gained the independence to navigate the rigors of medical school.  I've been able to truly reflect on the type of learner, person, and future physician I aim to be.

Jayla: Having my sister a part of my medical school journey has been the most amazing experience. I'd say the best part was having a built in study buddy who was always around holding me accountable and motivating me. During our Step 1 exam, she always came up with unique ways to ask me a fun fact about pathophysiology to keep me on my toes and I appreciated that so much. There'd be many times I'd be taking a practice exam and would remember  "oh yeah, that's when Jayda asked me about XYZ." Maybe the "worst" part of being a twin in medical school but turned good was sharing a car. We shared a car for all 4 years but it was more challenging to navigate during 3rd and 4th years with rotation schedules. Being on different rotations with different start times pushed us to take advantage of and utilize our time more efficiently. If Jayda's start time was at 5 and mine was at 6:30, I would drop her off and study before my rotation began. Though it was really difficult at times, I'm thankful for the experience because it really taught me how to maximize time management. 


What is your favorite memory of going through medical school with your twin? 

Jayda: My favorite memory of going through medical school with Jayla was serving on the executive board of SNMA/Student National Medical Association together.  This organization provided a safe space for me and fellow classmates to promote diverse topics and uplift diverse communities.  It was truly a blessing to be able to do this alongside my best friends and sister in medical school.  Working alongside colleagues with similar passions for diversifying the field of medicine inspired me to continue towards my dreams and focus on my "Why".

Jayla: My favorite memory going through medical school with my twin was when we both were invited to give an introductory statement for a Hope to Heath event hosted at the Fiserv Forum (basketball stadium in downtown Milwaukee). With nearly 2,000 people in attendance, we were supposed to give our perspective on what we hope for the future of healthcare to be. Though I don't consider myself the greatest public speaker, it was so amazing to have my sister there by my side to help ease my nerves and make me feel a little bit more comfortable speaking in front of so many people. 


What is one piece of advice you would give to someone in medical school? 

Jayda: One piece of advice I would give to anyone pursuing the field of medicine is to never forget your "Why".  What motivated you to get into medicine?  What keeps you excited and ready to serve your patients?  Also, to never forget "Who" you are.  To always remember and prioritize your passions inside and outside of medicine.  It can be easy to lose sight of your "why" and "who" during medical school but the true joy of the experience is knowing that all of your prior experiences have shaped you into the person you are today. 

Jayla: The one piece of advice I would give to someone in medical school or just starting off the process is to not let small setbacks dictate your overall trajectory. There will be times where you struggle, and you will (everyone does) but it's all about how you respond to it. It can be hard because medicine can be a culture where you think that everyone is succeeding and no one makes mistakes, but understanding that struggle shapes you into who you are and fosters resilience makes it much easier to face adversity head on.


What's next? 

Jayda: What's up next for me is residency! I'll be heading to St. Christopher's Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, PA to start my residency training in Categorical Pediatrics.  I couples matched with my fiancé so he'll be joining me in Philly for Family Medicine at Drexel University!  Ultimately, I hope to either continue on as a General Pediatrician or specialize in Adolescent Medicine!  I hope to continue serving as a mentor/guide for diverse communities as well!

Jayla: Next, we will be going our separate ways for Residency! She will be attending St. Christopher's in Philadelphia, PA for Pediatrics and I will be in Sacramento, CA for Ob/Gyn residency. It's funny because we got asked multiple times if we would be couples matching during the application process. We did not, she actually couples matched with her now fiancé so she kicked me to the curb.. just kidding. Our time together has come to a close but I know that even through the distance, our bond will still remain strong. 


For more information, be sure to contact them on Instagram: @jaydakinsss & @jayliee__

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