Challenges and Benefits of an Accelerated Medical Degree

Angela Nwankwo
Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
High School: Putnam City North High School
UMKC degree program: Combined B.A./M.D. Program, School of Medicine

Why did you choose UMKC?

The biggest reason is because I was accepted into the accelerated medical program right after high school. Who could turn down getting into medical school right after high school? More importantly, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to become a physician. The closest combined medical program to me was UMKC and I wanted to stay closer to home, in addition, there was no MCAT requirement and you get clinical experience within the first two weeks of the program, that’s something that no other medical programs can guarantee!

Why did you choose to study medicine?

Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I think of my pediatrician and what an impact he made on me. He cared for people, and now I, too, have the privilege of caring for my patients on a daily basis. It’s very exciting to make a positive impact in the lives of my patients. It’s extremely rewarding, and I consider time with each patient absolutely priceless. Medicine exists at the intersection of country, culture, race, and finance. Studying medicine provides me with the unique ability to make an impact on a global scale- whether it’s international medicine, healthcare policy, quality assurance, disaster relief, educational reform, or being a community leader. I am filled with hope for the future of medicine and its interdisciplinary aspects which fuel my strong desire to make an impact in medicine as a Nigerian woman in America. Overall, I know that medicine is the perfect fit for me! I truly cannot see myself doing anything else.

“Who could turn down getting into medical school right after high school? I knew without a doubt that I wanted to become a physician.”

Closeup of Angela Nwankwo

What are the challenges and benefits of UMKC’s accelerated program?

We’re young, and this is both a benefit and a disadvantage. We get to graduate early, but we are also forced to grow up fast. We have to come in at such an early age and commit to the practice of medicine. The good thing is that you can find out sooner if this field is really not for you — and if you love it, you get to go all in to start your career. The path to becoming a doctor is quite sacrificial and can be a long road. My classmates and I have to embody a sense of selflessness in our pursuit to help others because we give up a lot! It’s not easy to be in the library, but see all your friends on the beach.

Another benefit is that we get a lot of clinical experience. We are learning medicine and shadowing doctors at the same time. We get exposure to experiences other medical students at different schools don’t have for years. Also, I am surrounded by peers with like-minded goals. In school, it is good to have a supportive community of friends and classmates, so it helps that we all work hard and study together!

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I have learned to strive for progress not perfection. That way I push myself to become the best version of me possible. In this way, I believe that I have grown wiser, stronger and closer to God. I have learned more about where I see myself in my future profession and how I function best as a student. Throughout middle school and high school, I was involved in a large variety of extracurricular activities and I believed that this helped me to better balance my schoolwork. I thought in college this would change, but I quickly learned that it is just my nature to be super involved in school while staying engaged in my studies. I love staying busy!

“We get exposure to experiences other medical students at different schools don’t have for years.”

Closeup of medical student Angela Nwankwo's white coat, showing a stethoscope
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

“Well done is better than well said.” It is easy to talk about your dreams and wishes, but it is another thing to go after them and achieve them. We have a lot of opportunities in America to explore different things that interest us and a lot of resources at our demand, these should be taken advantage of. There is not another time in your life quite like your young adult years, there is no better time than now.

What do you admire most about UMKC?

The community at UMKC is awesome. There is a diverse group of students on campus and a lot of cultures represented. You can learn a lot from everyone you meet. The faculty here are very supportive. At the medical school, they really care about each student’s success and well-being. There are a lot of programs and initiatives held at the requests of students, so I like how administrators really value the input of students. I cannot think of one interest I’ve had that I have not been able to explore at UMKC, from learning Spanish and French, to doing research!

“Well done is better than well said.”

Angela Nwankwo standing in Student Union

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest fear would be not making an impact in the world during my lifetime. I want to make a change through advocacy, philanthropy, engaging or influencing society. I know that I am more fortunate than others with the opportunity for education, so I want to use my privileges to help others who do not have them.

What is one word that best describes you?

Blessed. It is an honor to be where I am, studying to achieve my dreams. Not everyone has this opportunity, so I never take it for granted. I have always nurtured a strong desire and determination to succeed, and this is something my parents have instilled in my siblings and I from a young age. I believe being Nigerian contributes to this because Africans as a whole tend to have high aspirations for their families.