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Personal and Professional Journey of a Young Nigerian – From a Clinical Research Coordinator to a Resident in Pediatrics, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, Texas

As a young girl, Dr. Kare-Opaneye have always been intrigued by the concept of how the body is affected by diseases. Her early introduction was to the communicable ones – malaria and cholera, diseases prevalent in Nigeria, where she grew up; then in her early teens, yellow fever, to which her father succumbed to at a premature age. These were the reasons to explore the subject further, forcing a decision to embark on a medical career path, an unusual one compared to many others that saw her first graduate as a pharmacologist, before pursuing a degree in medicine.

Dr. Kare-Opaneye graduated as the best student in her ‘pre-med’ pharmacology class earning the “Vice Chancellor’s Award”, and she subsequently proceeded to attend one of the top medical schools in Nigeria where she consistently ranked in the top 5th percentile in her class of over 150 students. Due to her exceptional dedication and knack for taking initiative, she was appointed chief intern in various departments she rotated through during her internship year. Dr. Kare-Opaneye’ s time in the department of Pediatrics was particularly invigorating though she experienced daily, the reality of the data, which showed that Nigeria was the second largest contributor to under-five mortality globally. The alarming rates of death coupled with an innate love for children inspired an empathy for children and thus her interest in Pediatrics. She knew she wanted to be a part of the change required to reverse this trend.

To expand her horizon, Dr. Kare-Opaneye went on clinical rotation in neurology at the Newcastle Hospital, United Kingdom where she learnt the intricacies of applying patient-centered evidence-based medicine for better health outcome; an eye-opener for her into medical practice in a developed world.

Dr. Kare-Opaneye translated this knowledge on returning to Nigeria, and consistently throughout many clinical rotations and while working as a clinic assistant in a private orthopedic practice in Boston. These garnered experiences enhanced her understanding of the American healthcare system while affording her opportunities for hands-on patient interactions. Teaching medical students on their sub-internship rotations while under supervision also refined her communication and teaching skills as well as her sense of clinical reasoning and diagnostic synthesis.

In a bid to facilitate her long-term goal of having a combined career in both preventive and clinical medicine, she graduated with a Master’s degree in Public Health at Texas A&M University with which she intends to hone her skills of providing holistic and integrated services for better health outcomes within families as well as in communities.

Dr. Kare-Opaneye actively engages her passion of impacting her community by participating in various projects including serving as a volunteer in the triage unit at the Hope Family Health Center, a non-profit organization that provides health services to the uninsured resident of the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas.

She also participated in a combined Texas A&M School of Public Health/Methodist Healthcare Ministries/International Valley Health Institute funded project “Prevention Organized against Diabetes and Dialysis with Education and Resources”. This project provides diabetes prevention services to the medically underserved communities. The impact of this project, is notable, recruiting over 2332 high-risk people in 26 months and offering evidence-based diabetes prevention information, screening and referral services.

Dr. Kare-Opaneye joined the DHR Health Institute for Research & Development as a clinical research coordinator in 2020. She plays an instrumental role in the coordination of multiple studies, notable one, is a multicenter study– the Texas Hepatocellular Cancer Consortium (THCCC) funded by CPRIT with additional funding by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health (NIH), with an overarching goal of reducing the burden and mortality of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) in Texas. The tremendous progress and success of this study and other projects she oversees is a strong reflection of her diligence, excellent work ethics, and her ability to communicate effectively with the principal investigators, other research centers, the clinic staffs, and the patients. She will always go the extra mile to ensure that her patients were contacted around their own schedule, which sometimes meant calling in the evenings and outside of work hours.

Dr. Kare-Opaneye enjoys dancing and spending time with her family. She will be commencing her residency program in pediatrics at the Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi.