Madeline Chikamba remembers delivering the news during a third-year clinical clerkship in medical school. A young mother of two from Egypt had just been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Because the patient didn’t have any of the common risk factors associated with the disease, this news came as a shock.
“The diagnosis was very hard for the patient to accept,” Chikamba said. “Her denial became a barrier to her care, which led to multiple, but easily preventable complications. This hit close to home. It took me back to the small village in Africa where I grew up. There, complications of easily treatable illnesses like diabetes often spiraled into complications that led to death.”
Keeping a dream alive
Chikamba, also a mother of two, is no stranger to the realities or complications of life. Growing up in a small, poor village in Zimbabwe inspired her to pursue medicine.
“As a five-year-old, I vividly recall my dad transporting an ill friend in his run-down truck to the nearest clinic – only to find out the visiting doctor was not scheduled to be in town for another few weeks,” Chikamba said. “I always thought if a doctor lived in the village, my people would live longer. It was then that I vowed to be a doctor who would be there to help my community. Fast forward 35 years later, that community for me now is Indianapolis, thousands of miles from where my dream began.”
The Hoosier hospitality and diverse patient demographics led Chikamba to pursue her dream at Indiana University School of Medicine.
“IU School of Medicine was an ideal training program for me,” Chikamba said. “Here, I was exposed to a diverse clinical model that caters to different populations of patients. I loved having opportunities to work with the underprivileged, underrepresented populations that are dear to me.”
Finding a community of support
Attending medical school and raising a family is no easy feat. However, Chikamba still found time to volunteer at the IU School of Medicine Student Outreach Clinic, serve as an active member of the Student National Medical Association and be inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.
“The decision to pursue a medical education as a caring mom and wife was not made lightly,” Chikamba said. “There are so many faculty members who invested not just in my academic growth, but also in my personal growth and well-being. One of my mentors, Ashley Inman, MD, would even send me apps I could use to study for pathology at my daughter or son’s extracurricular activities.”
Serving her Indianapolis community
After graduation, Chikamba will continue to serve her Indianapolis community in the Family Medicine-Internal Medicine Residency at St. Vincent Hospital.
“I looked for a residency program that would challenge my academic and personal growth,” Chikamba said. “I sincerely want to thank the wonderful team at St. Vincent for believing in me. This program was my first choice. To be one of the two people chosen to for their residency is a dream come true.”
So, what happened to the young mother diagnosed with diabetes? After weeks of ongoing meetings and phone calls, Chikamba was delighted to hear the woman’s two sons taking ownership of their mom’s health and spearheading lifestyle modifications in their home. Because of experiences like this, Chikamba is excited to develop more long-term relationships and proactive care plans with patients of all ages and backgrounds.