In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, fourth-year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) students at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) were faced with a number of challenges unique to the class of 2020. Class president Memu-Iye Kamara took on the responsibility of being a voice for her classmates at the decision-making table. This willingness to step forward and help in times of trouble is a theme echoed throughout her life. From a very young age, Ms. Kamara faced challenges that shaped her journey through life and into medical school.
Ms. Kamara’s earliest inspiration to go in to the medical field came from her mother (Isatu Sankoh, pictured right). After immigrating her family to the United States from the Budubaram refugee camp in Accra, Ghana, Ms. Kamara’s mother worked as a nurse. “After living in the refugee camp and seeing the wide variety of diseases there, I knew I wanted to go into medicine,” shared Ms. Kamara. “But it was seeing my mother work long days as a nurse and share stories of the patients she had helped that solidified my decision. I was inspired by my mother to be a caring and compassionate healthcare provider.”
Ms. Kamara graduated with a master of science in physiology from Georgetown University and began to explore her options for medical school. After learning about PCOM during her master’s studies, Ms. Kamara began to research osteopathic medicine further. “In learning about what goes in to educating a DO, I felt the tenants of osteopathic medicine were principles I was already following in my life,” shared Ms. Kamara. “It felt like the right fit for me, professionally. When I stepped onto the PCOM campus and it felt like a family, I knew it was the perfect school for me.”
Throughout her time at PCOM, Ms. Kamara has been actively involved in a number of clubs and organizations. As the class president for the Class of 2020, Ms. Kamara has been an unflinching advocate for her peers. “It was important to me that I share a student’s perspective as decisions were made in response to COVID-19,” said Kamara. “I worked hard to keep lines of communication with senior leadership open and communicated any changes to my classmates. Going into medicine, we understand the requirements set forth in response to the pandemic, but missing things like our Match Day celebration and in-person Commencement ceremony have been challenging.”
“I think my classmates have shown tremendous resilience and I have been proud to lead them,” added Ms. Kamara.
Upon graduation, Ms. Kamara will begin her residency in emergency medicine at Reading Hospital Tower Health in Reading, Pennsylvania. When asked what advice she would give students entering medical school today, Ms. Kamara shared “You need to know for sure if you’re ready for a life-long learning lesson. You have to be dedicated and passionate. It is hard work, but the outcome is definitely worth it.” Ms. Kamara also credited her family as a driving force in her medical school education. “My family has always pushed and supported me. Through adversity and success, my family has been with me every step of the way.”
Ms. Kamara grew up in Springfield, Virginia and received her bachelor of science from Virginia Commonwealth University.