Dec. 19, 2018 — When fourth-year medical student Nazokat Usmanova reflects on her time at the UF College of Medicine, memories of sleepless nights mingle with laughs and heartfelt moments shared with classmates turned dear friends. One lesson remains close to her heart: never lose sight of the well-being of either yourself or your patients.
“These past four years have been everything I dreamed medical school would be and more,” she says. “One of the biggest lessons I learned here is that it’s very important not to lose yourself in the books. Remember that personal aspect of medicine when caring for patients. And live your life alongside the learning you’re doing. It’s important to talk with your family and friends who are supporting you on the sidelines. Be thankful that you’ve made it this far, and be proud of yourself.”
Usmanova has accrued a wealth of clinical and practical knowledge at the UF College of Medicine, thanks in part to the Hugh M. “Smiley” Hill, M.D., Scholarship Endowment Fund, established by former students to honor their beloved associate dean for student and alumni affairs.
“These contributions have been essential in my decision to come to the UF College of Medicine. This scholarship gave me the peace of mind to devote myself solely to learning as much as I can,” she says. “It also helped ease the worry of my parents, who were not financially capable of supporting me through school.”
Usmanova, who was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and moved to the U.S. when she was 10 years old, has long been exposed to medicine, as her father is an orthopedic surgeon and her mother a neurologist in Uzbekistan. However, she found inspiration to pursue her passion for medicine in some rather non-clinical settings.
“I have always been interested in the sciences. It amazed me how our flesh — just random cells put together — could create a breathing, thinking, feeling being,” she says. “I remember one time back in Uzbekistan when my father brought home a whole fish to cook. My mom was filleting the fish, and I found the head in the sink. I actually dug out its eye to see exactly how the fish could see.”
Usmanova was further inspired to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology after accompanying her pregnant mother to prenatal appointments in the U.S. As Usmanova is fluent in Uzbek, Russian, English and Spanish, she often served as a translator between her mother and the physician. Usmanova became inspired by the work of her mother’s doctors, from the continuity of care provided to the thrill of the operating room.
“As a 12-year-old girl, I was instantly in awe of the fact that an entire human was growing inside my mother’s belly, and I did everything I could to learn more from the baby books and the internet,” she says. “I was also in awe of the doctors that were taking care of her and wanted to be just like them.”
Usmanova’s fluency in multiple languages has been put to good use as a medical student, whether in caring for non-English speaking patients or in doing medical missions work in the Dominican Republic. She knows firsthand the importance of clear communication when it comes to providing excellent patient care.
“Knowing Russian and Spanish has helped me tremendously with patient care. When you learn a language, you also learn the subtle innuendos of that language that often get lost in translation, and that aspect has been the most helpful,” she says. “I’ve had patients that didn’t speak English, and in some cases, I was able to serve as the translator and explain to them their diagnosis or treatment regimen. In the Dominican Republic, I was able to communicate with the locals, not only in the patient care setting but also when logistical issues presented themselves along the way.”
After Usmanova graduates this spring, she hopes to match in an obstetrics and gynecology residency. Though her future remains undecided until Match Day in March, she’s certain of the impact she wants to leave as a physician.
“I’ve always thought that I would like to make an impact in this world as a doctor. As someone that cares deeply for her patients and hopefully makes their lives a little better, I hope I can be someone that my patients can openly talk to about their most intimate problems and feel confident that I would do everything in my power to help them,” she says.