ABUJA, Nigeria – Imagine completing medical school at the age of 23 and officially becoming a doctor. At such an age, determination to become this successful is an understatement. “I have no idea what I want to do” is often the phrase many say in their twenties. It is quite common to be confused or uncertain while pursuing a career and securing a future. However, this was not the case for Oyinoluwa Akintola. Fortunately for Akintola, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. The interesting part about it is she had no source of motivation other than a genuine joy for helping others. “I really don’t know. I just grew up having the idea that doctors help people and save lives. So, I thought I would like to be like that in the future.” Akintola is in fact a medical doctor in Plateau State, Nigeria. She is currently working as an intern under the supervision of doctors gaining experience and navigating her way through her new career.
Doctors, as we know, work demanding hours in high -pressure environments. It truly takes a strong- minded person to understand the responsibilities of what they are called to do. Between working such long hours and attending to patients, the workload is stressful. “The biggest challenge is taking calls. You have to take calls, work overnight, and it’s stressful. The job just takes up all of your time. You don’t have time for yourself. There’s a lot to do. There’s a lot to read. There is just so much you don’t know.” The stakes are high for doctors and they are not in control of, nor can they change the challenges they face. It is often discouraging to concentrate solely on the endless tasks and expectations that are accompanied with the career of your dreams.
For Akintola, it is all about your mindset and finding time for yourself. “The only thing is to make up your mind and prepare your mind. You know that, okay, this is what it takes and you are ready to do it. Be happy. The little time you have, you find something to do. Something that will take your mind off it for a while. Not getting yourself locked up in the whole medical world. Sometimes, I go to the cinema to watch a movie. At a point, I was learning to how to sew. Sometimes, I will make a cake, just a simple cake.” Time may seem very short when work is taxing, but down time is essential. It is vital to step away from the constant busyness and do things that are relaxing, fun and even self-indulging.
The sacrifices doctors make are incredible, especially for Akintola. She was born and raised in Abuja, but she is in Plateau State which is four hours away from home. She calls her family from time to time. “I’ve not gone home since October last year because of work. I really miss home.” Akintola is actually the oldest of five children. “It is difficult, but it is fun. As the oldest you have people behind you so everyone is just watching and waiting.” Her family and close friends stood by her with support while she made the commitment to be a doctor. Medical school is quite rigorous and is not for the faint of heart. “I was in school for almost eight years. I wish I had known it was that stressful. There were some points it was not easy. There were times it felt impossible. You have tests or exams. When you see results and you’re just thinking, “Can I really make it?” Of course, she was able to persevere through a critical time in her life. Not only did she overcome, but she is manifesting her belief into a professional career.
Akintola has been able to give back to the community. She has participated in a few medical outreach programs during medical school. “We usually go out to villages. We have this Christian Medical Association back in school. We go to the villages to offer medical services, provide health education and preach the gospel.” Currently, there is a concern of malaria in the community. While Akintola has been unable to attend outreach programs, since becoming a doctor, she does plan to educate patients about malaria in order to help them take preventative measures.
At the moment, Akintola does not have any publications or research. During school she conducted some research projects as part of her requirements, but they were not published. She is taking her time to decide on a specialty. “There is no deadline, but I am thinking maybe obstetrics and gynecology.” Because she is just starting her career, she is focused on completing her internship with only six months left. After this, she will be looking for employment and intends to begin publications and research eventually. Akintola hopes to inspire and compel others to hold tight to what they believe and achieve it. “Trust God and no matter what believe it is possible. Hold on to your dreams.” Akintola’s story is indeed commendable and praiseworthy. She effortlessly exemplifies the idea of standing firm in foundational values and manifesting those values into a career in helping others. It is only a matter of time before we see what the future has in store for Akintola.
In the U.S, most people finish medical school and start their career approximately at the age of 29. Akintola’s story is very unique because of her determination. It is key to note that there is a difference in the curriculum for both countries. Still, it does not take away from the fact that being a medical doctor at the age of 23 is honestly remarkable. She knew exactly what she wanted to do and simply went for it. Although, it is not in everyone’s interest to become a doctor, determination is necessary when making a decision whether it be a career, academic or personal. Knowing what you want requires you to focus on executing the plan. Akintola had a very brief moment of doubt when she was in medical school, but her determination allowed her to complete medical school. Doubt may attempt to overshadow your victory but determination propels you to move forward in spite of that.
By: Priscilla Brown
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