Dr. Kiran C. Patel

Meet Melissa Jomsky

A difficult route to medical school was no match for this future doctor

For Melissa Jomsky, life always required extra resilience. Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, her parents struggled, with little money and even fewer resources. Family support and encouragement – especially toward education – was in short supply. “Our thought process was ‘survival mode’ all the time,” she says.

Yet, she credits growing up in a low socio-economic environment for shaping the person she is today … and providing the motivation needed in her education journey. “No doubt, what has gotten me this far is my determination,” she says.

 

Finding Her Path

Female doctor with arms crossed closeup view

Melissa earned an education degree from the University of Central Florida, and after working two years as a 4th grade teacher in Orlando – a great career but personally not a good fit, she says – Melissa moved back home. Not wanting to teach, she took a job as a receptionist at a doctor’s office to pay the bills. That’s where she found a mentor, something she never had. It’s also where she started thinking about medical school, a dream she never imagined.

 

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It was nice hearing someone who was educated tell me that I was smart. It was very motivating to know he really believed that I could be a physician. But I knew people like me don’t just become doctors. But then I thought, ‘How do I really know that'?

Melissa Jomsky | NSU MD

 

Overcoming Obsticles

Being from Fort Lauderdale, Melissa knew of NSU and its M.D. program. She also knew many of her UCF classes wouldn’t transfer. With no help or support from others, she spent seven years saving money, working full-time, and taking one to two classes a semester at Broward College to get the prerequisites done.

Her challenges continued with the MCAT, the standardized admissions test for medical schools. Melissa had never taken a test like that before, and studying for it and saving money for it would take more time. She also took the test more than once to improve her score – and did – but it still wasn’t competitive. That’s when she learned about NSU’s Master of Biomedical Sciences – a program designed to enhance students’ academic background and make them more competitive for professional health care programs.

 

MD lady thoughtful looking through a big glass window

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Melissa Jomsky selfie with red top
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With NSU’s allopathic medical school having only 50 spots, I knew I needed to stand out in the crowd. This master’s program did that for me. It gave me the confidence I needed. I did well with my MBS; I knew I would do well with an MD.

Melissa Jomsky | NSU MD

 

A Supportive and Inclusive Community

 

So, at age 32, Melissa applied and was accepted to NSU MD, where she is the second oldest classmate in her cohort.

“It definitely feels homey, and there’s a sense that we are all together in this,” she says, while admitting that being older creates a disconnect with students 10 years her junior. “But I know they will always have a place in my heart, and I can see certain people who will definitely be with me through my career.”

Helping students bond comes easier when class sizes are small, which is a strength of NSU, according to Melissa. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted to go to med school here. It’s individualized, nobody goes under the radar, and we aren’t pitted against each other.”

 

A New Generation of  Confident, Capable, and Caring Physicians

 

Another plus for Melissa? The thought that goes into the curriculum. “NSU MD is a newer med school and honestly, I think it’s the best characteristic. Everything is so fresh – it’s not built on ‘oh, this is what’s worked for years so let’s just do it that way.’ Here, they genuinely listen to and make changes based off students’ feedback. I love that.”

As a first-year medical student, Melissa remains open to the type of doctor she wants to be. But growing up in a low socio-economic environment will play a role. “I think it’s something that’s super important and shaped the type of person I am,” she says. “When I hear about health disparities, or about a patient who needs a certain treatment, I ask if they will be able to afford that or if it is covered by Medicaid. It’s something I am very passionate about – bringing health care to those from low socio-economic backgrounds.”

 

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Melissa Jomsky headshot with MD white coat NSU uniform
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Applying and getting in is probably the hardest part. It took me seven years and there were a lot of people who doubted I could do it. Just don’t give up. You must stay committed.

Melissa Jomsky | NSU MD