Sisters Pre-Match at Bronx Lebanon Hospital
Ayesha Siddiqa and Iqra Nawaz pre-matched into internal medicine at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York, where they have been completing clinical rotations for the past year. The offers came within a month of each other.
“It’s a dream come true,” Ayesha says. “Even if I had gone through the Match, this program would have been my first choice.”
Iqra agrees. “Bronx Lebanon is like home to me,” she says. “Pre-matching here is one of the best things that could have happened.”
AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNEY TO PURSUE MEDICINE
Ayesha and Iqra, who are a year apart in age, have both dreamed of becoming doctors since childhood. They grew up with four siblings in Pakistan before their family moved to Brampton, Ontario during their high school years.
“Growing up in Pakistan, health facilities were not as good as they are here,’” Ayesha says. “Seeing that, I thought maybe one day I could do something to help.”
The two sisters attended Brock University in Ontario, with the goal of continuing onto medical school afterwards. Although they did well—while adjusting to a new country and a new language, no less—their limited time in the country left them at a disadvantage when it came to Canada’s competitive medical school landscape.
“As an immigrant, it takes time to understand the education system,” Ayesha says. “By the time I settled in and knew what I needed to do, it was my third year. I tried my best to apply to Canadian medical schools, but it’s very hard to get in, even for people who have lived here their entire lives.”
That’s when Ayesha and Iqra began looking into international medical schools. Both sisters were accepted to AUC with scholarships and planned to enroll. But the realities of their financial situation soon came into sharp relief. Their family now had to fund two medical students’ tuition while supporting their four siblings, and no bank would offer them a loan.
“Our parents told us, ‘You can attend the first semester. We can’t promise you the whole medical curriculum, but we’ll do as much as we can because you’ve waited your entire lives for this,’” Ayesha says.
Their parents’ sacrifices—and the uncertainty of whether it would be enough—would only increase as Ayesha and Iqra progressed through their medical education. Each semester, they poured their hearts into studying, not knowing if they would have the resources to return for the next.
“My parents sacrificed so much for us,” says Iqra. “It became not only our dream but their dream as well. That kept us focused.”
FROM ROTATIONS TO RESIDENCY AT BRONX LEBANON
Both Ayesha and Iqra fell in love with internal medicine when they moved to New York and began rotating at Bronx Lebanon.
“To me, internal medicine allows me to put together everything that I learned in basic sciences,” Iqra says. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do in the future, so I did weekend and night calls, worked with different residents, and kept doing IM calls even after my rotation finished and I moved onto pediatrics.”
Being able to stay at Bronx Lebanon for the rest of her rotations and show her dedication, she says, played a big role in her attendings considering her for the pre-match.
“It’s a blessing for us,” Ayesha says. “We really wanted to stay in this hospital because it’s a great environment and we’ve learned so much already working with the residents and attendings.”
The most rewarding part of the experience? Sharing their accomplishments with their family.
When Iqra pre-matched a few weeks after Ayesha, she surprised her parents by going home and telling them the good news in person.
“My mom and dad started crying, they were so happy,” Iqra says. “It’s their achievement too. We wouldn’t be here without everything they did for us.”