A Journey From Nigeria to Neurosurgery – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

It’s been almost 20 years since MD, an Oluwaseun “Seun” Omofoye from Nigeria who emigrated to the United States at the age of 16, embarked on a quest to become a neurosurgeon. Now, after finishing the final year of fellowship training at Cedars Sinai, the 37-year-old husband and two fathers have officially embarked on his long-awaited career.

“Thank you for your success,” Omofoye said in a LinkedIn post he shared, and has since received over 9,500 likes and nearly 1,200 comments. “It was hard to say the least, but I am grateful to everyone who supported and believed in me in the process.”

Keith Black, MD, left, Orwasun “Sun” Omofoe, MD. (Photo courtesy of Cedars-Sinai)

During the training process, Omofoye spent four years as an undergraduate, one year to earn a master’s degree, five years in medical school, eight years as a trainee, and one year as a neurosurgery oncology fellow.

“Sun rolled up his shirt sleeves and came to Cedars Sinai. I wanted to teach the people and help as much as I could,” said Omofoe, professor and chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars Sinai. Said Keith Black, MD, the leader of the. “He has the ability to work with other colleagues and members of the medical team with little effort. He is a very talented young surgeon and has a bright future in front of him.”

Chasing the American dream

When Omofoe was 16, his father won a US visa draw and then gave up his job as a biochemist for the chance of the American dream. Omofoye emigrated from Nigeria to North Carolina with his mother, father and three younger brothers.

“They sacrificed their careers to take my brother and me here,” Omofoye said. “Their selflessness gave me the opportunity to reach my goals. My dreams have come true thanks to them.”

Omofoye and his parents graduated from medical school. (Photo courtesy of Omofoye family.)

For Omofoe, who had always dreamed of becoming a doctor in the United States, the move was exciting, but it meant that his family faced the harsh reality of making a living in a new country.

“My parents got a low-paying job in the United States from a great career in Nigeria and just tried to get over it,” recalls Omofoye. “My dad continued to work full-time and eventually returned to school to become a nurse.”

Motivation from mentors

Omofoye says he benefited from the mentors and teachers who encouraged him along the way, but he was also motivated to overcome adversity when faced with denialists.

“At some point on my journey, I was told I couldn’t do that,” said Omofoe, who especially recalls the undergraduate college adviser who told him he didn’t have what he needed to enroll in medical school. I did. “And at the medical school, there was an adviser who told me that he was unlikely to be a neurosurgery trainee and was likely to make a backup plan.”

Omofoye also remembers an advisor who discouraged him from continuing his training in the early stages of neurosurgery training.

Neurosurgeon Oluwaseun “Seun” Omofoye, MD, left, and Keith Black, MD, right. (Photo courtesy of Cedars-Sinai)

“But I believed in myself,” Omofoe said. “My faith, determination and passion for neurosurgery was moving towards concentration, motivation and goals despite my disability, and there were also supportive mentors who advised me not to give up. . “

In the Faculty of Medicine, Omofoye co-founded the group “Minority Men in Medicine”. There, an underrated minority of male medical students coached a minority of male undergraduates interested in health professionals. Similarly, undergraduates have created a teaching pipeline aimed at teaching local primary school students and increasing the number of male minorities in health care workers.

In his mentor, Omofoye taught him countless lessons, shared his experience starting with Cedars-Sinai as a young neurosurgeon, and finally built a nationally ranked neurosurgeon program. There was also encouragement from a Black.

“I think there are only four black neurosurgery chairs in the United States,” said Omofoye. “I worked with Dr. Black, who I consider to be a master neurosurgeon, to learn a variety of surgical skills and innovative techniques for removing brain tumors.”

Giving back

For Black, giving back to trainees like Omofoe is one of his greatest joys.

“In reality, it’s hard to imagine achieving personal success without a mentor,” said Black, who is also chairman of neuroscience, Ruth and Laurence Harvey. “My mentor was motivated and tolerant to share adversity and take the time to teach me strategies to overcome them.

Omofoye and his wife and children. (Photo courtesy of Omofoye family.)

Without them, it’s hard to imagine that I would be everywhere now. “

Upon completion of the fellowship under Black, Omofoy will head to the Myrtle Beach area of ​​South Carolina to build a cranial neurosurgery program to provide highly specialized care for patients with brain tumors and intracranial lesions.

“As neurosurgeons, we play a remarkable role in the lives of individuals who meet at the worst of their lives, with the ability to make positive changes and change the course of their lives,” said Omofoye. I am. “I am very grateful to practice this profession. Overall, anyone with a dream believes in himself, pursues goals no matter what obstacles come, and has a version of the American Dream. I want you to aim. “

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