med sisters series: Racquel, MS3

The Med Sisters Series is a series of interviews of women in various stages of their careers in medicine: pre-med, medical school, residency, fellowship and attending physicians. As women, I believe we face unique challenges within any field, medicine included. As I’ve moved along on this journey, I truly believe one of the biggest support systems we have is each other. Society works so hard to pit women against each other in every situation you can think of but, as feminists, I think it’s so important to combat that urge to try to ‘beat each other out.’ There’s room for all of us on the other side of the glass ceiling. The goal of this series is to shed light on the challenges women face in the field of medicine and how they achieve a work-life balance that works for them. This blog has always been a place for me to share the realities of this journey, both the highs and lows. I thought of this series as a way to share the perspectives of the other extraordinary women on this journey too.


Racquel is a third year medical student in the US and lives with her husband and her adorable dog Melo. You can read more about her journey on her blog and Instagram!

Q: Why did you decide to pursue medicine as a career? How do you stay motivated on the difficult days? 

A: I know it sounds cliche, but I’ve always wanted to be a physician. I don’t know if it was the National Geographic issue my mom bought me with a fetus in a womb on the cover, or all of my toy doctor kits growing up but medicine has always be my dream. I feel very fortunate to have had some challenging experiences because they taught me what kind of doctor I want to be. Through these experiences I have learned that I don’t only want to be a doctor, I want to be a great doctor. It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of medicine but it’s really not as glamorous as we are lead to think. As with anything else, there are hard days. As a medical student, I know they will get more difficult as I venture into residency and beyond. I try to keep things in perspective and focus on the fact that each challenge is temporary. Having my husband cheering me on every single day is an amazing motivation as well. Overall I stay motivated by taking things one day at a time and trying to learn about myself along the way.

Q: How do you balance marriage and medical school? 

A: This is an excellent question, and one that I get asked pretty often. I think that marriage is a partnership and if you’re lucky enough it’s a partnership between best friends who respect, support and love one another. I am blessed to be married to the most wonderful man. We met in college and got married right before starting medical school so we’ve done every “big” thing in our adult lives together. Medical school can be overwhelming for anyone but I am lucky to have a husband that makes it easier not only by understanding my struggles, but pushing me to do my best. He’s an engineer and his profession has it’s own challenges. We have very different career paths that have come together in a way that we believe is the best plan for us. No matter what, our relationship is our priority. Second only to our faith, our marriage is the foundation for our lives and medical school compliments our plans but does not define the health of our relationship. I think balancing medical school and marriage is ultimately about communication, being a supportive partner and staying honest to your priorities.

Q: If you could go back and be a premed student again, what would you do differently? 

A: If I could go back to undergrad and be a premed all over again I honestly don’t think I would have done anything differently. I chose to explore various fields (I majored in Physiology, Religious Studies, and Spanish & Portuguese with a minor in Arabic), worked, volunteered and did research to get the most out of my experience. If anything, I would have added on another minor to expand my knowledge of prose or poetry. I’m very content with my premed experience and I would encourage any premed to learn more about themselves, about the world, and generally expand their horizons in any way they can!

Q: Does your faith play a part in why you chose to pursue medicine as a career and how you interact with your patients? 

A: I’ve been Muslim since February 2010 and I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve ever made. My faith has taught me to be more kind, have more empathy, resist judgement and dedicate my life to service. I think I’ve become a better, more open minded person along my journey of faith and I believe this has a positive impact on my patients because it pushes me to approach them with acceptance, tolerance and compassion.

Q: Who is a woman in medicine you look up to and why? 

A: As a feminist I look up to any woman in medicine that follows her dream while fulling whatever aspects of her life she believes are important. As women in medicine we are often put into many boxes with a seemingly infinite list of expectations. I’m proud to be part of a medical school class that is 60% female. It’s so exciting to think that medicine will have a lot more women during my career, all with unique contributions and diverse backgrounds!

Q: As a woman in medicine, specifically a woman of color, have you faced any discrimination (either blatant or subtle)? What advice do you have for women who go through similar challenges? 

A: In life we experience discrimination in many forms, but as a woman of color there are unique forms like sexual harassment, prejudice, sexism, and racism that can be hurtful and extremely uncomfortable. As a female medical student it’s not uncommon to be confused anything but a future doctor. I am very lucky to not have experienced blatant discrimination at this point in my career but I understand that it is something I will likely have to deal with. Overall, I think you can either chose to be defined by the discomfort these experiences bring or grow from them in a positive way. As a woman in medicine I believe we must lead by example, show our leadership and demand that our presence be acknowledged and respected.

Thanks for stopping by – I hope you gained a great deal from Racquel’s insight. We’re lucky to have her stop by our little corner of the internet. Please leave your recommendations for other bloggers who should be interviewed for this series in the comments below!

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