Ndang Azang-Njaah

"I have found my transition from the pre-clinical years to clinical rotations to be very rewarding. There’s definitely an aspect of a step learning curve, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with dedicated clinicians, residents, and medical staff who have provided strong mentoring and assistance over the course of the year."

Hometown: Westminster, MD
College: University of Maryland at College Park
Major: Biochemistry, Nutritional Sciences
Scholarship and Discovery Track: Community Health Scholarship
Highlights of Pre-Med Career: I was a member of Maryland’s Honors Humanities Program, which provided invaluable exposure and opportunities for appraisal of the humanities. For my capstone experience I created a website that I used to reflect on my experiences studying abroad in Cameroon and as a first generation American. I also sang in Maryland’s Men’s Choir for four years of undergrad and participated in spring break service trips in New York City and New Orleans.

Why medicine?
I had a definite feeling that I would pursue a career in a health related field, but it wasn’t until I gained a greater appreciation for the diversity of the practice of medicine during college that I knew medicine would be the best fit for me. I gained a growing interest for medicine and the role of public health interventions programs through an international service-learning experience I had during the summer after my freshman year with Education Fights AIDS, a non-profit, in Cameroon. The experienced showed me how an intervention rooted in social justice and public health could have a positive effect on human empowerment and disease management. I came to the realization that I wanted a career where I could combine my interests in social justice, human biology, and public health, and that primary care medicine would be the most fulfilling means by which to achieve this goal.

Why Pritzker?
When I was applying to medical schools, I was focused on finding an institution that was heavily invested in its students, valued diversity, and had a strong social mission. I felt immediately welcomed into the Pritzker community during my interview and I found that the students I met were not only genuinely happy, but were in a supportive environment that would provide the opportunity for students to reach their maximum potential. Also, Dr. Vela’s “Health Care Disparities” course was a huge draw - I loved the idea that my medical school would place a strong emphasis on making certain that its graduates would receive substantial exposure to the tenets of health care inequality. In summary, Pritzker seemed to be the best fit to embark on my medical training.;

Now that you have completed many of your clinical rotations, tell us about your experience in moving from the classroom to taking care of patients.
I have found my transition from the pre-clinical years to clinical rotations to be very rewarding. There’s definitely an aspect of a step learning curve, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with dedicated clinicians, residents, and medical staff who have provided strong mentoring and assistance over the course of the year. And there’s a certain priceless aspect to participating in patient care - I've not only been able to solidify my understanding of the clinical pathophysiology through direct patient contact, but I’ve also been able to forge meaningful relationships with patients along the way. At times I have had the opportunity for continuity of care while rotating through different rotations!

You’ve demonstrated a tremendous commitment to addressing health care disparities (congrats on winning the 2012 Herbert W. Nickens Scholarship!). How has your work in that area influenced your understanding of the field of medicine? 
Beginning with my initial commitment to medicine, I have envisioned my practice of medicine as an act of service to others. My commitment to addressing health care disparities has provided amazing opportunities to engage in service and view innovative methods for the delivery of health care. I now have a deeper appreciation of how the complexities of the social determinants of health impact the health of communities and individuals. In all I’ve learned that the art of delivering effective medical care is equally as important as the science of medicine in achieving the end goal of becoming a strong practitioner or medicine.