As a child, D’Andra Cornish, 26, dreamed about becoming a doctor. In fact, this North Abaco girl recalled that it was the only occupation she ever considered, and so from childhood, she has continued pursuing her dream.
Now, she is living out that dream.
After graduating from high school, she attended the College of The Bahamas for two years before transferring to St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada where she received a bachelor’s degree before attending medical school in Trinidad.
As a fourth-year medical student, D’Andra began her studies at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad. As part of a five-year program, she completed her first three years in Trinidad, and is now polishing off her remaining years in Nassau at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
Although D’Andra admitted that she is still undecided on what area she will specialize in, she is quite certain of her love for medicine as a whole. Presently, as she goes through her rotations at various medical facilities, she has developed a love for every part of the field, but she is hoping that she will grow to love a particular area more.
Her face immediately lights up as she discloses that family medicine and pediatrics are the two areas high on her list. So it’s no surprise that one of her rotations landed her at Integrated Medical Center with Dr. George Charite and Dr. Marc Binard for four weeks in April and May.
Calling it an elective rotation, D’Andra said that medical students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with an area that they may go on to work in. Plus, it was added encouragement to return home to familiar faces, and a warm welcome because the medical field has its share of challenges.
“It’s definitely challenging going to a physician and expecting them to know what is wrong with you and to treat you,” she reasoned. “Nothing is easy, and it’s always going to be a challenge, but putting God first and having encouragement from family and friends is helpful.
“It’s a tough learning situation and sometimes you’re put on the spot by senior physicians, but it’s nothing personal. It’s part of a learning process, and it helps you to become a better person, and to be stronger.”
Becoming a doctor is not for the fainthearted, D’Andra assured, and many times, she has been bolstered simply by an inner confidence and drive to accomplish what she has set out to do. And of course, there’s that added motivation as she has adopted the ever-present Golden Rule as her mantra.
As she completed her elective rotation at Integrated Medical on May 3, D’Andra said she is looked forward to her rotations at PMH in Nassau. Once she sits the final exams to obtain her medical license, and attain her credentials as a doctor, the next stage is the completion of an internship. The purpose of the internship is for her to put into practice the years of medical school she has completed, and to demonstrate that she is a qualified physician. The final step is going back to school to specialize.
Eventually, D’Andra said that she will open her own practice, but for now, she wants to thank her country for the support given to her and for the opportunity to attend medical school by giving back.
She mentions her family once more, and it’s obvious why she senses that they are more excited than she is at times.
“Sometimes there is a little pressure, so I don’t want to disappoint them,” D’Andra shared. “I don’t give up, and there is no reason I should fail because having their support means a lot. My father Ejnar Cornish has been my greatest supporter, and I thank God for him each and every day because he is my number one fan.”
D’Andra also has to set an example for her seven-year-old sister who wants to become a doctor. Even though they don’t spend much time together, when they do see each other, she helps her with her home-work and encourages her.
Despite her bubbly personality, and easy-going manner, D’Andra is a disciplined and mature person because of her life experiences. After losing her mother at the age of 13 years, and being away in school, she was forced to grow up and become more independent because she had to do things for herself.
“Also having a dream that no one can hold you down from doing what you want to do,” she added, “and God putting it inside of you that you do need to work hard in order to achieve that dream.”
Her time at Integrated Medical was one more page added to her life’s chapter, and it was definitely interesting and a refresher course in family medicine for her. D’Andra recalled her encounter with people from all walks of life, and the experience helped her to recall material that she has already studied and needs to review.
At the end of the day, though, she has kept one main goal in sight.
“I always say that I would only really wish to be a person that people would be proud to say: ‘I know this person’ – that’s really the biggest goal and to be able to help people. I think I’m just an island girl with a big dream, but I just at the end of the day want to be happy,” D’Andra commented. “It’s not about the money – at the end of the day – it’s about making people feel better. Your interaction with someone can change their life.
“It’s not the prestige of being a doctor because I’m not doing it; it’s God that’s working through me to touch people’s lives.”
As an up-and-coming physician, D’Andra has the fulfillment of a lifelong dream within her grasp. It is a reminder of her duty, and the duty of all physicians to set an example for younger persons with similar aspirations and dreams.
“It’s only fitting that you try to make a difference in the lives of the people here in The Bahamas, and eventually it will catch on so that future doctors can make a difference. We have to take care of each other; one day my kids and grandkids are going to grow up and they will need physicians, so it’s important that we practice what we preach and try to make life better in The Bahamas.”