Match Day 2023: Leen Alrashed Is Where She’s Supposed to Be
When Leen Alrashed, Class of ’23, opened her Match Day email to see the Urban Family Medicine Residency Program at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, it became the moment she realized she was becoming the physician she always dreamed she would be.
“It felt like this surreal moment and all of my anxiety about matching just faded away,” Alrashed recalled of the first congratulatory email she received on Monday of Match Week. “Although I didn't know where I was going, it was still so much relief just knowing that I had a job, matched into residency, and all of my hard work set me up for where I am supposed to be.”
Alrashed was born in Texas but spent most of her childhood in Tecumseh, Ontario, a Canadian town about 15 miles east of Detroit. Just before her family settled in Canada, part of Alrashed’s childhood was spent growing up in the Detroit area. Although it was not home for long, part of her story is always connected to Michigan, which makes her return to Detroit and Wayne State University’s Family Medicine Urban Track Residency Program a homecoming. “It was important to me to be close to my family and be able to be somewhere within a drivable distance because they are a really big support system for me,” she said.
Any program in Michigan would have been ideal, but matching at her top choice in Wayne State University brought tears to her eyes. Within the Urban Family Medicine program, she will have the opportunity to serve underprivileged communities in Detroit and Wayne County, giving back to the area that raised her.
MORE THAN MEDICINE
Along the journey from Texas to Michigan and Canada, Alrashed also spent a lot of her younger years in and out of hospitals treating various medical complications. She had kidney and endocrine disorders that needed frequent management and required renal surgery. As she went through those experiences, she recalls interactions with physicians, both good and bad, as one of her first inspirations to become a physician herself.
“As a kid, I often got undermined or not taken seriously during those visits that were for me. My experiences weren’t always positive, so it started from a young age that my goal was to be a person that changed things and focused on helping minority children and different cultures like me. I wanted to create more positive experiences in medicine and embody a trustworthy personality for patients. It means something more than medicine.”
Alrashed’s plan to change medical experiences for underserved minorities brought her first to the University of Windsor for undergrad. When it came time to apply for medical school, she shadowed a family medicine physician and alumnus from American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC). She observed his heartwarming patient interactions and how each of the hundreds of patients he saw were as if they had been a friend or family member. “They trusted him, and that was an honor I wanted when envisioning my own practice,” she recalled. Her experiences shadowing a family medicine physician confirmed that enrolling in AUC for medical school was the right choice.
Once she started clinical rotations at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, family medicine only continued to come into focus as a rotation that could offer the balance between patient care, forming trust and interpersonal relationships, and some flexibility in the type of care each patient needs.
“Building relationships, trust, and honesty with your patients are essential to what I want to do, but along with that is being a jack of all trades in the broad spectrum of care I could provide. I'm someone who has always told myself that if someone else can do something, I can do it too, and family medicine is the specialty that gives me the opportunity to do a little bit of everything rather than just one specialty.”
A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM
Alrashed’s time at AUC and in clinical rotations was, at times, a nerve-wracking experience being so far from home in Ontario. In Sint Maarten, she joined the AUC Canadian Medical Student Group that quickly brought about a feeling of being home and became a tight-knit group that remains connected to each other despite being spread out to various clinical sites around the United States. In Chicago for her rotations, she became close with a group of fellow international medical students from Ross University School of Medicine (Ross Med), another Adtalem Global Education institution. As Match Day approached, having a group of soon-to-be residents there to support each other helped the day feel celebratory since her family could not be with her in Chicago.
Although they were not physically present, no family members know more about Alrashed’s journey than her two brothers, one of which is already a family medicine resident and the other not too far behind in medical school. There have only been brief discussions of opening a family practice after Alrashed is finished at Wayne State, but that hasn’t kept their mother from already working on her own ideas how the yet-to-exist practice can save expenses on signage if all the physicians have the same name. That future might not be set in stone, but the one that is has just as much to build upon.
“After Match Day, I have this feeling like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. Being able to say that I have a residency spot lined up, I am going to be a physician, I am practicing medicine and helping my patients. Even with doubts along the way, I have kept telling myself I’m doing everything right.”
Start your own journey to Match Day at AUC here.