In June 2018, Jessica Rakonza, M.S. ’18, M.D. ’18, boarded a plane from New York to Seattle, Washington, to begin her career as a new doctor in the residency program at Virginia Mason Medical Center. It had been her greatest hope to work as a physician in her home state of Washington; her path to landing this choice position began with the decision to apply to NYMC’s Accelerated Master's Program (AMP).
“After graduating from Columbia University in 2012 as a pre-medical student, I spent my first gap year working a colorful assortment of jobs and applying to medical school,” she explains, “I knew I had to do something significant to prove that I could handle their rigorous curricula and the unique challenges of becoming a physician.” On May, 23, 2018 that decision paid off in spades when Dr. Jessica Rakonza earned her medical degree.
Here Dr. Rakonza provides insights into what she loved most about her experience as an AMP student:
You said applying to the AMP program was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. What makes this program so special?
What will always stand out to me as the most exceptional and essential component of NYMC, both in the Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences and the School of Medicine, is the level of collaboration and support between its students. One person’s success is everyone’s success. We all do our best to not only get ourselves through this seemingly impossible process, but to make sure we take as many of our peers with us as possible.
What is your best advice for a new AMP student?
Adaptability is the name of the game. Don’t be afraid to try something completely new if what you’re doing isn’t working. You may find that certain resources or study techniques that you hated in undergrad are now your best tools for success. And while your peers will have plenty to say about what they use or how they do things, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t try to force it.
As you begin your career as a physician, what trends or changes in the health care industry excite you most?
The practice of medicine in the U.S. is more patient-centered than ever before, and this change is very much driven by the evolving expectations of those we serve. Patients want and expect to be more involved in their own care, and they expect their healthcare providers to reciprocate these desires and facilitate the necessary changes in their practices. Technology has very much enabled this evolution and will continue to be a key element in the transformation of the patient-physician relationship.
What’s next for you?
After almost ten years in New York, I’m incredibly proud to say that I matched at my number one residency program at Virginia Mason with the hope of one day completing a fellowship in gastroenterology. No matter where I end up or what specialty I enter, I really hope to continue teaching and mentoring young students and physicians, doing for them what so many have done for me.