6 Questions with Dr. Chinedu Obi (Class of 2019)
As a US immigrant from Nigeria, moving halfway across the world for medical school wasn’t exactly a new experience for Dr. Chinedu Obi. His challenge, however, was finding an exceptional school where his wife and infant son could flourish beside him. We sat down with the 2019 AUC graduate for advice on what undergrads should look for in a medical school, how he balanced life and course work, and what life is like in residency.
What was it like growing up in Nigeria?
My childhood was great! Enugu is a beautiful, industrious and progressive city in southeastern Nigeria. I grew up with four siblings who are still my best friends today, so there was never a dull moment! I feel very fortunate to have parents who literally sacrificed the clothes on their backs to make sure we had a good life. Even though things weren’t always good from a financial standpoint, my parents were both emotionally and physically present for us, so I grew up with a solid sense of self-worth.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a physician?
My inspiration to become a doctor came from an innate desire to care for people and my passion for biological sciences and chemistry. In medicine, I am able to marry my love for physical and biological sciences with my desire to care for people!
Any advice for students searching for the right medical school?
An education is only as valuable as the amount of effort that you put into it. The walls of an Ivy League school themselves do not make the smartest or the most emotionally intelligent physicians. What one needs is an institution that provides the necessary faculty talent to teach you the concepts, as well as a conducive and technologically up-to-date facilities to foster learning. You have to do all of the heavy lifting yourself.
What were some of the reasons you chose AUC School of Medicine?
I chose AUC for so many reasons: its small class sizes (can’t overstate this), exceptional faculty, state of the art anatomy lab (Harvey Lab), an early exposure to clinical medicine, and a robust standardized patient program. I applied to US medical schools, but when some rejections came and waitlists never became opportunities, I looked to reputable Caribbean medical schools with a proven track record of producing US doctors — which AUC absolutely has.
Also, as a father and a husband, it was important I chose a place where my family would thrive. St. Maarten is gorgeous. You get both touristy, resort activities on the Dutch side and a quaint, small town European feeling on the French side. Plus, you can’t beat direct flights from Miami, New York, Atlanta, and Puerto Rico. Grocery stores are comparable to those in the United States and the American dollar is accepted everywhere. I also appreciated that I could drive with my American driver’s license!
What was a tough challenge you faced during your schooling?
My biggest challenge was finding a good work/life balance. My wife and I moved to the island with our 11 month old son. I spent long hours attending lectures and studying afterwards in the library. I completely understood that this was part of the sacrifices that I had to make to be successful. However, not spending much time with my young son and wife was very difficult for me. At a point, I felt the strong bond I have with my son dwindling as I was not spending a lot of time with him. I knew I had to do something! So, every day at 6 pm, I made sure that I was home to spend some time with him, play with him, bathe him and put him to bed. This really improved our relationship and helped me feel more involved.
What are the students like at AUC?
The students at AUC were a pleasant surprise. I say ‘surprise’ because the atmosphere was one of healthy competition as opposed to an unhealthy one. There’s a real sense of community. I can definitely say that it is not a cut-throat environment. People happily and eagerly share their knowledge. It was a badge of honor at AUC to be a tutor and I wore that badge with pride.
AUC students are also very generous. They volunteer time from their busy schedules to perform community service every semester on Community Action Day. AUC students also know how to have a good time! Usually after block exams, students recuperated and celebrated at BB’s, Fat Tony’s, Tantra or the many beautiful beaches on the island.
You’re a neurology resident now. Any words of wisdom for those considering going into your field?
Neurologists are fascinated with the complexity of the neural pathway and love to problem solve. If you’re drawn to that kind of work, you may want to consider neurology
There are so many interesting subspecialties in neurology. While technological advances have created a very exciting atmosphere for medicine as a whole, neurology as a specialty has experienced tremendous growth. Neurologists can now treat almost every neurological disease as compared to decades prior, when they were limited to diagnosis without many treatment options to offer.
Dr. Chinedu Obi is currently a neurology resident at University Hospitals in Columbia, Missouri.