Jake Morgan graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Microbiology and a B.A. in Italian in 2015. He spent three consecutive summers in Arezzo, Italy both as a student and as a teaching assistant for summer programs such as Organic Chemistry in Italy and Microbiology in Italy. For his capstone thesis, Jake wrote about the psychiatric health disparities that migrant women face in Italy. He currently is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and will receive his M.D. in May, 2019.
Could you tell us about the work you do now?
To call it work is a little misleading, but I’m in my last year of medical school at OU, which means I’ll graduate in May. I recently finished my interviews for residency, and I’ll find out where I will be training for the next five years in the middle of March. Specifically, I’m pursuing a residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. Most people aren’t familiar with the field, but to provide a few examples, I will be trained to remove tonsils, perform sinus surgery, resect head and neck cancers, place cochlear implants and repair facial trauma among other things. Put simply, if it involves anything from your head and neck besides the brain, spine and eyes, I will learn how to surgically treat it.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Throughout medical school, a few of my classmates and I created a student organization called P.A.C.E. which was founded to combat burnout among medical students and fosters habits of mindfulness and resilience before residency. To date, we run a variety of workshops and presentations that address that mission. I’m proud to say that it is in its fourth year and still thriving.
How did Italian @ OU help you get to where you are today? How did your study abroad experience shape your personal and professional development?
To a certain extent, this question has come up many times during my residency interviews. While Italian has little to do with my current career and education, it gave me a way to see medicine in a different light. So much of being a physician involves acting as a translator. When I speak with patients, it is my duty to translate my medical knowledge and terminology into a language that the patient understands and do such in a why that they grasp the underlying importance of what I’m attempting to communicate. For example, how do you effectively translate “hemoglobin A1c 9.3%” into “your diabetes is uncontrolled and you stand to lose your vision and kidney function”? Learning Italian and spending time abroad gave me a perspective that allowed me to feel comfortable traversing patients’ different cultures, attitudes, and beliefs.
What advice would you give to current students of Italian at OU?
Build the confidence to make mistakes. So much of learning a language involves a willingness to fail so that you can refine how you speak and write. The same applies to your future career, no matter what you choose to do.