Jelani McPhee ’09, a recent medical school graduate, surprised some when he returned to Saint Leo’s University Campus recently to earn a Master of Business Administration degree. He is not switching fields: instead, he wants the business background to help him toward his eventual goal of running a private practice.
The Caribbean alumnus is deliberate in pursuing his career goals. While making plans for business school and enrolling in classes, hehas also been taking the medical board exams required before he can be placed in a medical residency in the United States. Dr. McPhee decided he prefers to completeall his academic credentials before moving onto the medical residency.
In the meantime, current science undergraduates are fortunate, as Dr. McPhee is also working at Saint Leo’s Learning Resource Center, tutoring undergraduates in upper-level science classes.
He agreed to be interviewed for the current issue of Lewis Hall Cell Lines, an electronic newsletter for Saint Leo science alumni and current students majoring in biology–the flagship program of the School of Arts and Sciences. Here is a portion of that conversation.
Question: Tell us what you have been doing since earning your bachelor’s degree.
Answer: After I graduated from Saint Leo, I worked at a microbiology lab institute on my island (St. Lucia) for six months. Then I applied for St. George’s University School of Medicine (Grenada), where I pursued my doctorate of medicine and graduated on June 14, 2014. I also returned to my island in July and volunteered in the Windward Island Games as the sports medicine assistant doctor.
Question: How has your Saint Leo degree prepared you for your career so far?
Answer: My undergraduate degree prepared me to study long hours and enabled me to have a grasp of the essential sciences, and a snapshot into the reality of medicine. My undergraduate years at Saint Leo disciplined me and helped me to develop that work ethic.
Can you explain the medical board exams that you have taken and will take?
Answer: I have taken two board exams thus far. The first was the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, which tests your knowledge of the basic sciences and your first two years of medical school. Passing allows you to begin your clinical rotations. The second was the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills exam, which is also taken midway in your clinicals to see if you have mastered the hands-on part of medicine. I plan to take the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge early in the new year, which is the final set of boards that open the way for you to qualify for U.S. medical residency.
What is your most cherished memory of your time at Saint Leo?
Answer: My favorite memory of Saint Leo was attaining Dr. Williams’ General Chemistry Prize for excellence, along with pledging one of the greatest fraternities, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., which is based on achievement in every field of human endeavor. This provided the stepping stone for my success. My final best memory was attaining the Senior of the Year 2009 Award. I loved the Saint Leo community.
Question: What advice would you like to offer current biology students?
Answer: My advice for current students would be to try your best to put in careful studying, appreciate all the principles of the sciences, and aim for excellence yet remain humble in everything that you do. Everything that happens after Saint Leo is a giant step into the matrix of a world we live in. Every student should try to maintain at least a 3.2 GPA, score high on entrance exams such as the MCAT or GRE, and get very strong letters of recommendation. Always remember, a winner never quits and a quitter never wins!