WORCESTER — Born with innate curiosity, a strong passion for science and the ambition to serve her communities, Jacqueline Koomson of Worcester decided to become a doctor at a young age.
“I just thought that caring for people and trying to help people get better is the most rewarding way to contribute and serve my communities,” said Koomson, a recent graduate of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia and the first in her family to receive a medical degree.
Koomson will begin her one-year internship at Crozer Chester Medical Center in Pennsylvania before she starts her four-year radiology residency, with the goal of completing a fellowship in breast and women’s imaging at Emory Hospital in Georgia next year in June.
Originally born in Ghana, Koomson left her country at age 3. Before moving to the U.S., she and her family lived in Germany for four years. Later, they moved around to different states before settling down in Massachusetts in the early 2000s.
“I’m very excited. I feel like there (are) lots of opportunities to help my home country develop in terms of their radiology resources, and I’m also excited to spend some time with women who are going through what could be a scary time, not sure what’s going on with their bodies, and being someone that they can lean on and rely on to help them get through some of the scariest moments of their lives,” Koomson said.
She and her family found that Worcester had a large Ghanaian population and also a place to start over after her father left the military.
“I consider Worcester to be my hometown because this place raised me, and it’s so interesting to see how it’s grown over the years,” Koomson said.
Being born in Ghana has made Koomson develop a great interest in Ghanaian and American communities, specifically in women’s health care and breast imaging.
When it comes to imaging, lots of areas in Ghana are underserved, Koomson said. Starting from Ghana, Koomson hopes to bring imaging technology to the area and expand later to surrounding areas.
“I feel like women’s health is very important. In underserved communities, we don’t get as much access to preventative care such as mammograms, so I’m really excited about promoting breast health awareness, women’s health awareness, and just bringing more underserved women into the imaging department,” Koomson said. “We can help them figure out what’s going on with their bodies, and make strong management to let them feel better and feel well of themselves.”
While Koomson was in school, she involved herself in many educational programs, starting at her high school, North High in Worcester.
During her senior year at North, Koomson joined a pipeline program with UMass Memorial Medical Center, where she was first exposed to many different fields and specialties within medicine.
The time in North was a turning point of her life, she said.
“North High (helped) me develop into who I am today,” Koomson said. “I feel like the teachers and the mentors that I had at North High really helped me realize like what my learning style was or helped me explore different career options or different research ideas just because I was a curious person.”
Being part of the UMass Memorial mentoring and pipeline program had also inspired her to join the Drexel mentoring and pipeline program.
Koomson said mentorship has been very important on her journey to medicine. In her first year of medical school, she gained knowledge and access to resources from the mentorship, so she wanted to give back to others by becoming president in the second year of school.
She was also a mentor in the New York University Pre-Health Peer Mentorship Program during her first to third year of medical school. The program connected her with undergraduate students.
“Working as a mentor for both institutions really rewards me because I felt like I could help someone get to where I have finally been able to get to,” Koomson said.
During the first summer in medical school, Koomson interned in her hometown in Accra, Ghana, where she spent time working with an orthopedist in the emergency department.
During her internship, Koomson spent a lot of time reading images like X-rays and computed tomography, and she sometimes was present during surgeries as well.
“I think that experience really played a pivotal role on me becoming a radiologist later on because like reading the X-rays and CTs and images was always so exciting for me,” she said.
Koomson received a Woman One scholarship of $100,000 over four years from the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership.
She also received matching funds from the dean of Drexel University College of Medicine.
Before starting her radiologic residency, Koomson expects to be an excellent intern, who can learn more about diseases and management, and more importantly, get to spend more time with her patients.
For a long-term goal, she hopes to complete a solid project in terms of women’s health and global health in radiology before her residency ends.
“As long as I am able to do that, it doesn’t matter like how I do on an exam, or if I have a bad day like at the end of the day. I’m in a place where I can help people and I think that’s the most amazing gift I could have,” Koomson said.
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