Alfred Samura, MD, IM PGY3

January 28, 2020

Alfred Samura, MD, IM PGY3

What inspired you to go to medical school?

My decision to become a medical doctor emanated from my observation of military doctors during the civil war in Sierra Leone, the country where I was born and spent my early years. My father was a military officer, and we lived at the main military barracks of the country. The military hospital was close to our residence. When injured soldiers were brought to the hospital, my family members and I will run to the hospital to know whether any of our loved ones were part of the casualties. It was during those episodes that I developed admiration for the work of medical personnel especially those of doctors.

One morning when I was in sixth grade, my mother told me that overnight my father was brought in to the hospital from the warfront for acute abdominal pain. I was worried. My father meant a lot to our family both as the primary provider of the family and as a mentor to us. He successfully underwent surgery. I visited him frequently in the hospital and watched him gradually recover. I owe his recovery to the work of the medical team especially those of the doctors. After personally experiencing the implications of saving a loved one’s life, I decided to become a doctor, so I can pay forward the benefit of saving someone’s life.

In 2004, with $200 in my pocket, I left the shores of Sierra Leone on a green card lottery visa in search of better life in the USA. Away from my parents and now with the responsibility of taking care of myself and financially help my family back home, I had to make major adjustments along the way in order to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. During undergraduate years, I worked as a nurse’s aide and later became a nurse. Balancing work hours and study hours were challenging. Every semester I had to decide between taking classes part-time or full time. I spent more than 6yrs pursuing my undergraduate degree. 

Who are/were your models in medicine?

Now at the tail end of my internal medicine training here at UT Houston and about to start cardiology fellowship elsewhere, I must say I have made lifelong friends and met many incredible faculty members during this journey. Every attending taught me something special about his/her approach to patient care and leading a team, and I do value their feedbacks. I will like to comment on Dr Bob Baker and Dr Prakash Balan’s approach to patient care and/or leading team rounds. Dr Baker gives 80 to 90% autonomy to the upper level while acting as the “consultant” during rounds. I love his anecdotal stories from his medical experience. He usually uses them to advise on entertaining other differentials or treatment approach. Dr Balan has a demeanor that puts his patients at ease when he interact with them. During clinic, he is in no rush. He spends adequate time addressing his patients’ needs. He is knowledgeable, approachable and always willing to help residents succeed.  

What is your favorite things about UTHealth?

One of my favorite things about training at UTHealth is the diverse patient population and pathologies. The patient population and pathologies at LBJ differ from those at the VA which also differ from patients at Memorial Hermann. Outside of work, I love our soccer team and the comradery during spring soccer competitions.

What do you feel that a Diverse and Inclusive learning environment is so important in medical education?

I think a diverse and inclusive learning environment is important in medical education for many reasons. Diversity brings together our unique backgrounds and provide opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences. We serve an increasingly diverse patient population with clear disparity in healthcare assess and outcomes. Having providers/trainees from diverse backgrounds help with access to health care and improve healthcare outcome. Having an inclusive learning environment is important for resident/trainees health. According to WHO, health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” A non-inclusive learning environment creates stress on residents/students which affects their well-being and jeopardizes learning experience. Such environment will likely create unmotivated workforce leading to decrease productivity. A diverse and inclusive learning environment therefore translates to production of knowledgeable and culturally competent providers. 

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