Publisher's note: The author of this post, Janiya Winchester, is a contributor to ECU News Services.
Ongeri Joseph Ayako, second-year medical student at East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine, believes in balance in his approach to becoming a doctor and his family life.
Ayako, originally from Kenya, began working in the medical field as a hospice nurse in Charlotte for almost eight years. During his time there, Ayako provided care for patients battling diseases like cancer.
"They made me want to find a way to not just help them towards the end of life, but when they are trying to battle the disease at the hardest stages,"
Ongeri Ayako, a second-year medical student, hopes to find new ways to help others by specializing in hematology and oncology.
Ayako wants to refine his approach to patient care by pursuing his medical degree. He hopes to specialize in hematology and oncology. The connections that Ayako has made from learning experiences as a nurse and in medical school have broadened his methods towards patient care.
"(Before) If I saw a patient for something I didn't understand, now that I understand I'm able to do things in a different way,"
With the challenges of family members battling diseases and settling down in a new country, Ayako had a unique introduction to the medical field.
"Before that, I was just a kid playing, but from there I got an interest and started trying to find out what I needed to do to get there,"
Being involved in organizations like Brody's Student National Medical Association and Brody Ambassadors, Ayako has a lot to balance as a medical student. He has become more familiar with the rigors of balancing medical school and family life after juggling his white coat ceremony and the birth of his second child on the same day. He joked that he does not recommend trying this at home. However, he does recommend helping your family to understand what it means to be in medical school prior to starting the journey.
"You're going to have to put in a ton of hours,"
he said. "You just have to sit down with them and tell them it's going to be a tough road."
Ayako believes you can find quality time for family by making time on weekends or in between tests.
Ayako's passion for the medical field stems from trying to find more ways to help people.
"I feel that the more knowledge base you have, the more you'll be able to reach a greater number of people,"
What advice do you have for other students?:
Be the change that you want to see. There's no point in complaining if you're not going to do something about it. So when I saw patients telling me their stories, I thought what can I do to impact their lives?
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year?:
I wish I knew how helpful the Brody community is. Don't be afraid to reach out for help if you're struggling. There are a lot of available resources you can go to. Since there are endless resources, there are people out there that can help you.