Interview: From Reluctant Student to Top of the Class, An Unconventional Journey Through Medical School

Being beautiful with brains serves as the greatest achievement anyone could have and yearn for. Our correspondence, Oluwagbemisola had an opportunity to interview the newly crowned best graduating student of the Medicine and Surgery department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ilé-Ifè, Nigeria.

The Prosperity Ark

GWC: Can we meet you?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Good day, my name is Godknows Osarhiaekhimen. I recently graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University College of Health Sciences finishing as the best graduating student of my set - I had distinctions in every course I did in medical school and currently, I am a house officer at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (L.U.T.H).

GWC: Amazing! The confidence awes me.

Congratulations ma'am!

You mentioned finishing as the best in your set, what was your feeling at that point?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Well, it felt surreal - even though I knew already. At a point, I was in denial and in shock, I felt surprised and all the attention on me that day was scary. Then, I also felt it was a good achievement because I believed I worked really hard while I was in medical school and I was glad that there was a reward for it.

GWC: Wow! Interesting.

What motivated you to study medicine seeing how hard you worked while in school?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Oh…I didn't want to study medicine. It was my dad's idea, but now that I'm in medicine, I feel fulfilled. Usually, I love doing whatever I'm doing at any moment well, so, being in medicine has given me a sense of accomplishment - seeing your ill patient becoming better per day and knowing you were a part of it has given me a great sense of fulfilment and reward. So, right now, I can't imagine myself doing something else because I think I was made to be a doctor.

GWC: What are your aspirations for the future?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Yeah, I want to work with Cutting Edge Technology, I want to do a lot of handwork skills, I want to go into fields that have interventions but not surgery. Yeah, I want to be able to contribute to the health sector in Nigeria eventually - maybe not now but soon because there are a lot of problems I have witnessed in the health sector in Nigeria. Using the teaching hospital of my school, the hospital where I did my postings and now, where I am, I can boldly say that I've noticed two or more issues that need to be worked on in the health sector in Nigeria.

GWC: Hmmm… what other things were you involved in as a student?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: I was a member of ISEC (International Student Environmental Coalition), so that was the major extracurricular activity I was involved in. I was a church girl too, so most of my activities were from there too. For leadership experiences, I used to be a group representative or assistant group representative in my class.

GWC: This is becoming sweet (lol). So, how did you balance all of these with your schoolwork?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Well, I think it's just time management. I was able to spend a lot of my time based on what was more important.

GWC: What were your greatest fears?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: My greatest fear, hm…I have to think about this. I think my greatest fear will be determined by what phase of life I'm in at the time and for now, I think it will be not living up to my potential, not living up to the best version of myself I could be. You know, just being subpar scares me.

GWC: Was it all easy as a medical student?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: (Chuckles) No, it wasn't and I don't think anyone would say medical school was easy.

GWC: So, what was your source of strength in times you felt like quitting?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Yeah, I drew strength from God, I had a personal relationship with Him. I drew strength from my family, especially my mom. Sometimes, when I feel so down, I call her and talk with her about my matters and her motherly advice and psychotherapy went a long way in helping me through. Then, I had really trustworthy friends, so we took walks, talked, and watched a movie together just to get our minds off things and it worked well for us.

GWC: What and who inspires you?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Hmmm…who inspires me? Wow! I can't really pinpoint one person as my source of inspiration. There are people that I have seen certain things in their lives and I've found admirable but then, if it's someone who inspires me to be a good doctor, nope, there's none. I admire people for different things in their lives but I've not found one person that embodies all that I want to be.

GWC: Interesting… What study patterns did you make use of while in school?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Uhmm…I'm more of a "day person", so I tend to read more during the day like in the morning. I wake up early and go to school; now, in school, I observed that there was free time like between one posting and another, so I make use of that time. I also read after postings but I don't stay up at night to read because not sleeping affects me. That's basically what I did throughout school.

GWC: Wow! Thank you, Doctor!

What would you love to say to encourage other medical students?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Well, medical school is hard work - we all know that. But, you must also know that medicine is fun because you get to meet a lot of other people - nice, interesting, crazy and other species of people from whom you can learn a lot. And, medical school is long, so during that time, try to work on other aspects of your life, don't just be so wrapped up in the whole medical business. Know what you want, follow it and have fun all the way because when you leave medical school, it is these experiences that make up the majority of your memories.

GWC: Hehe…thank you for these words ma. What do you think about the Nigerian health sector?

OSARHIAEKHIMEN: Hmmm…just like I said earlier, the Nigerian health sector is in a really bad state and I think one area where I need to see key changes is in insurance. Health insurance is a major issue here in Nigeria. Then, more hospital structures and facilities are needed in Nigeria.

GWC: I'm so thankful for this short period I have spent with you, doctor. Thank you for these words of advice, impact and help. We do not take it for granted. To our audiences who would love to connect with Doctor Osarhiaekhimen, please do so via her Instagram.

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