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VUSM students highlighted in Forbes’ COVID-19 feature

May. 14, 2020, 9:09 AM


Two Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students  — Leah Chisholm and Kianna Jackson — were among the women highlighted in a Forbes feature “14 Women of Color Medical Students and Graduates Who Matched Share on Soon Joining the Front Lines Amid COVID-19.”

Leah Chisholm, MD

Chisholm, a member of the VUSM class of 2020, will be serving her urology residency at VUMC.

Chisholm was inspired to “do more for herself and for others” while growing up with parents who were pastors and absorbing countless sermons. She is the first doctor in her family. She hopes her status being underrepresented in medicine (URM) brings opportunities to do more for minority patients, minority doctors and the next generation. She said her journey through medical education has been empowering.

“Medical school opened my eyes to my flaws, the flaws of others and the flaws of the system. I spent the first few years bottling up emotions from stress, microaggressions and imposter syndrome,” Chisholm said.

“There is a large need for medical education for the general public, and the conflicting views revolving around the pandemic prove that.”

Kianna Jackson, MD

Also a member of the VUSM class of 2020, Jackson will remain at VUMC for her plastic surgery residency.

“My time in medical school has only continued to fuel my inspiration by opening my eyes to the many ways in which our health care system can be improved, particularly for people of color and LGBTQ individuals,” Jackson said.

As a first-generation college student and the first person in her extended family to become a doctor, she said she feels incredibly fortunate to have had an amazing support system and dedicated mentors along the way.

Jackson said she is more nervous entering the field than she was prior to COVID-19 but is excited to get to the front lines to help.

“This pandemic has highlighted some of the many health care disparities affecting communities of color and reminds me that I must continue to use my voice as a physician to speak out against inequity.

“It has also shown the ways in which medicine can be flexible, and I hope that we can learn to use that flexibility to better serve low-resource communities,” she said.

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