Originating from the grassland, NORTHWEST REGION, Passion Fruit caught up with Dr. Nina Lum Ngwa. Having come a long way, had amazing transitions, and exceeded the norms, it is no secret her outstanding achievements, internally and externally and her still processed goals. She ERASES the cliché of the ‘NERDY PRACTITIONER’ and replaces with a bubbly, extremely versatile and stretched-out personality. This is even further proven in her role as an AUTHOR, BLOGGER, TRAVEL ENTHUSIAST, ACTIVIST and SPEAKER.
Now resided at Kentucky, she was generous squeezing out time to share with us all you need to know about MEDECINE, CAREER ORIENTATION, LIFE, LIVING, PURPOSE, DETERMINATION … See below:
Passion Fruit: Nina! Nothing like having you on board! So excited.
NINA:Thank you, it is my pleasure to be here.
Passion Fruit: THE ENCOURAGING DOC, hummmm, seeing that’s how you let us address you – Assuming your job already bears a role of widely helping people resolve problems; why not a static Doctor? The connotation “Encouraging” added to it, insinuates a deeper meaning to your skill or field?! – can you take us around that?
NINA: I chose this pseudonym because it fits well with my purpose and personality. We all have to work to make a living, but I believe that in order to achieve a level of seemingly perfect harmony in life, one’s career should intertwine with their calling. What I call “finding purpose”. I am an optimist and a realist, and in a world that seems to be going to hell in a hand basket I choose to accept the calling of being an encourager to other people in every way possible. With the knowledge of the human body from years of training I am able to help people live healthier lives. I actively participate in physical healing that way. I figured if I could be more holistic and help people heal their hurts, emotions and even give them an empowering word to fight through each day – that adds purpose to my life and career. I want to be the kind of doctor that helps people heal in more than one way. This is why when it came down how I wanted to use social media, I chose to use it for good, to empower, motivate and encourage. Hence the pseudonym @theencouragingdoc.
Passion Fruit: Wait, wait! I never been a doctor or acted one but I attest to being a patient. So I can safely say, it’s a diverse and exhausting field having to deal with other people’s issues – how & when did you detect you could serve in purpose within your career?
NINA: We have known about each other from childhood. As you remember, my mother is a pediatrician in our hometown (Douala). So, I grew up seeing the impact she had on our community, at church & at home. I recall people would bring their sick children to our house when I was a kid for late night consults. Then a few weeks later we would run into them at church, or the market or at a birthday party and these mother will shower immense gratitude on my mother. It showed me how she was making a difference in other people’s lives and I remember thinking back then that I too wanted to do something significant for others. It brought meaning to the nighttime sleep interruptions from my childhood. In a rudimentary sense, I too wanted to help people be happy. As the years passed, I began to learn about the fundamentals of health and how access to healthcare is a basic human necessity but still threatened by shortages within its workforce. This need added a mature definition to what I’d always wanted to do to contribute towards humanity. So I chose medicine.
Passion Fruit: Nina, you are such an intense lady, with a great drive. What was, that drove you to this point in your life?
NINA: Thank you for saying that. I still think I have a lot of work to do when it comes to my discipline. I haven’t scratched the surface yet, though I am appreciative of where I am now- there is certainly more to come. I believe God is giving me a mission with each phase of my life. I am still in the unfolding years, and with that He has provided equal parts strength to do what he is calling me to do. I rely on blind faith in Christ. Let us see what He is going to do with me.
Passion Fruit: ( Follow up) when did you choose your career path & did your environment influence any decisions you might have made with your career, including your book-writing, and hey your personal life?!
NINA: I fully chose medicine in high school at Saker Baptist College. Those years of unintentionally working with my mother ( the time I spent watching her work was an indirect shadowing experience). The physician shortage in Cameroon was a primary driving factor, I started out wanting to help serve my people with healthcare. After successfully completing the GCE advanced level examinations I started off by applying to CHU/CUSS in Yaounde. I failed the entrance exam and this was a great disappointment. I felt like this career I have now was never going to happen. The future seemed opaque. I couldn’t see past failure. The experience with failure re routed me to seek opportunities for medical education abroad. With that drive while at the University of Buea, I used the internet to begin to read about pre-medicine and medical school abroad. Then I fell on opportunities in the Caribbean. After an arduous immigration process for higher education I transferred out of UB to the Caribbean school I found affordable. While in the Caribbean I learned about the medical education in the USA. I did not expect the challenges that followed but through each step came the grit to push forward.
Passion Fruit: (follow up) I will love to linger longer on your personal life. What is that story that liaises the Nina before and the Nina now and how did the people in your life participate in influencing your story at any given stage – be it your parents, siblings, girl friends, boyfriend/s *laughs* , Fiancée (is there *grins*)??
NINA: My family has played a pivotal role in who I am today. You probably understand this when I say my parents, literally sacrificed their wellbeing to raise us. I sometimes still feel guilty about how much it took for them to sponsor me to this point, it came at the disadvantage of one of my siblings. But, their support added to the sacrifice is what gives me strength that I too can do the same for others. Also to answer your personal question; there isn’t a fiancé just yet. I desire one but I believe that’ll happen at the right time, and I hope the right time is sooner than I expect. Hahaha.
Passion Fruit: What’s been the most challenges you’ve faced practicing abroad?
There aren’t many honestly. I wake up each day with a sense of gratitude for my life, so maybe I have my rose colored glasses on that I can’t see the challenges. And if I do, I wish to keep them on till I die. The most challenging part of my practice really has nothing to do with my clinical work. I would say though that having a visa to study or work can be challenging when I discover non traditional opportunities that I qualify for but cannot obtain due to restrictions on my permission to live or work while living here in the States. In a sense it is a form of subtle psychological torture to see the heights I want to attain, in a diverse field from that which I was trained in, but cannot (yet) venture out of the legal restrictions until the time when I am given official permission to do so. So this isn’t a challenge as much as a process that has an outcome. Though on the other hand this helps to build patience and allows time for thoughtful career decisions that could be considered daring at this early stage in my life.
Passion Fruit: You recently co-authored with twenty other ladies from different backgrounds & cultures. And you’ve been interviewed on TV SHOWS including ‘Life with Lee and Harley’ plus ‘FOX 56, Morning Edition’ all in the United Of States & made several other appearances to that regard. Firstly, why you amongst the other twenty? Did they choose you to represent the lot of you? Or are you attacking it all at an individual level?
NINA: I am a media prone creative at heart. Without any formal training speaking to others in a compelling manner comes naturally to me. One of the things I consider a gift. I sought out opportunities and advocated my cause as my own public relations manager and was granted the invitation and audience. My co-authors are equally talented, and our hope is we can each be influencers on an individual & state level. After this is done, then we can gain enough traction to do the same (with professional help) on a national level.
Passion Fruit: “Chronicles of Women in White Coat”; what does this book symbolize to you on a personal level and please do give us your general perspective relating to its impact on the world – not only the world of women in medicine but women and men as well in different scopes of work?
NINA: This book is a medical biography, or memoir detailing stories of these 20 women (including myself) and how medicine intersects with our personal lives. It is a book I wish I read when I was younger and trying to find my place in medicine. We want to change the way people think about seemingly demanding careers, the paradigm shift here is how “regular” people can become heroes and balance it all.
Passion Fruit: One will assume you are a successful physician, author and that’s that, what more would you want? But looking at you, it’s easy to notice you got bigger and wilder goals? How viable is our pyschic read? *winks* A little on them?
NINA:I am a visionary at heart. I know there is a lot more to life than what we see on the surface. I keep an open mind, open to possibilities. I am constantly learning. These traits lead me to believe there is something coming, I can’t talk about it yet, but I will let it announce itself to Passion Fruit at the right time. Be patient with me, will you?
Passion Fruit: First of all, we like to acknowledge your contribution to our health care facilities via the TELEMEDECINE concept. Being a Cameroonian, African, what is your opinion in relation to our health facilities and how do you plan to forge forward with future plans to encourage improvement and development with our health care systems?
NINA: We have a long path ahead of us. There is a lot of work to be done. And I say this lightly. I am a part of a great organization called the “Association Of Cameroonian Physicians in America” aka ACPA. Within ACPA I serve as the medical missions chair. One of our goals at this time is to foster growing relationships that will allow us to influence the healthcare in Cameroon. The telemedicine project is one way to practically begin to support our colleagues in Cameroon. It is a store-forward system that allows a general practitioner in Cameroon to submit a clinical case for expert consultation via an online system. It is accessible wherever there is a smart phone or computer that is connected to the Internet. I believe this is a great tool because it improves diagnostic accuracy which inturns increases the quality of care provided to patients. It also helps cut the costs to the patient as they don’t have to travel so far for a medical opinion. Telemedicine is being used by organizations such as Doctors without Borders and other international relief groups with a track record of excellence in patient care delivery. I believe ACPA can champion a similar level of influence. If any of your readers are interested in knowing more about this or participating at no cost, please share my email address firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>. I will be glad to communicate with them.
Passion Fruit: You spoken a lot about work and passion and purpose – given you exhibit a lot of exuberance – certainly not the Dull Ol’ Jack type *smirks* – what’s for leisure? What do you love doing in your moments?! Dancing, Skiing, travelling … ??
NINA: I love to travel, enjoy a culinary experience, work out, and hang out with friends and family and most importantly laugh!
Passion Fruit: Nina, there’s something about the brothers and sisters from Africa trying to put us on the map. Usually these kinds of aspirations tag along RESPONSIBILITY and PRESSURE as soon as “they” are led to believe they are not only responsible for themselves but their community and/or continent, at large! Any feelings of anxiety or overwhelm yet?
NINA: I believe we should live our lives for ourselves first. Not to be selfish but ensure that you are meeting your primary purpose first. You can help anyone without helping yourself first. No one should have to live under the pressure of keeping up with appearances or expectations. I think once we live in our purpose, we will influence others positively. It will usually begin passively. It shouldn’t be forced. Once it is forced the essence of what we are trying to do with our influence is lost.
Passion Fruit: (Follow up) I will like to confess, immediately I saw you that poised on TV, I had all these thoughts – as in the next ten minutes I had seen you through bonding on Red Carpet with Lupita Nyongo, sitting pretty with Oprah & repping in the Whitehouse – and I was going to be in your DM reminding you we were besties at nursery school … hahahahaha… is it only me or do you envision that? How prepared are you? You ready for that kinda show? *holding out both ears*
NINA: I have a feeling that my life will not be ordinary. I say this with the utmost humility. I am not certain what that truly means, but if it involves the limelight I am ready for it. I embody an insane ability to stay calm under pressure and I think that’s necessary if you choose to influence people on a large scale. This, and certainly my faith. I know God has a higher purpose for me and I cannot be afraid to take his mission to the world, I mean I am not doing it simply for myself so He has got me!
Passion Fruit: Here is to more truths, I never thought interviewing a Doctor will be so much fun. Passion Fruit was a little bit intimidated with the thought of words like “CHROMOSOMES” and “ACETYLCHOLINE”*shivers* assuming we say we are WORD ENGINEERS – ha ha ha ha … Thank You, Nina, for this experience. Let’s hear what last words you got for us?
NINA: To everyone reading this remember that no one else is going to come and rescue you to give you the life you think you deserve. You should seek it out. Dare outside of your comfort zone. The next time you’re faced with adversity, instead of crying “woe is me”, ask yourself “how can I make this situation work for me ?”.
Passion Fruit: Wish You all the best and GOD SPEED! WE LOVE YOU.
For personal and professional inquiries, you can find Dr. Nina on: