By Drew Daws
Kevin Jiles, CLA '14, is currently a fourth-year medical student at Mercer School of Medicine (MUSM) and a member of the U.S. Navy's Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). He served as a peer adviser during his time in Mercer's undergraduate program, which he credits with many of his lasting friendships today. The pre-health track helped motivate Jiles to pursue a career in medicine.
What is your current position?
I work as a full-time student physician at Memorial Health University Medical Center. As a member of the HPSP, I recently matched to an OB/GYN Post-Graduate Year-1 (PGY-1) position at Naval Medical Center in San Diego. I was originally inspired to pursue medicine by a retired-nurse-turned-teacher that taught a series of health professions classes at my high school. Her fiery passion for medicine and mentorship inspired me, and I haven't looked back since.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently the student body president for the MUSM Savannah campus, so I have an active role with the Student Council. One of the major projects we are working on this year is a Student Council-sponsored service project on each of the three medical school campuses to highlight our commitment to service and community support. In addition, I have volunteered at local community centers, like Moses Jackson Advancement Center, and helped work at the local farmers market to provide free health screenings to the public.
How did you choose your career path?
I never thought I would be interested in obstetrics and gynecology until I was a third-year medical student. To be honest, OB/GYN was at the bottom of my list of specialties that I was interested in. However, after spending six weeks rotating through inpatient and outpatient OB/GYN services, I found myself in love with what I was doing on a day-to-day basis. I love the diversity that the field offers and how it is considered primary care but still is procedure oriented. I believe Mercer definitely helped foster and encourage my pursuit of a career in medicine.
How did the University influence that decision?
My Mercer education really helped me learn to think critically and to ask questions. You take a ton of different classes as an undergraduate, and I often found courses to be very focused and almost irrelevant to real-world situations. However, those courses and those obscure topics really helped me learn to think for myself and express my thoughts both verbally and in writing. These qualities have definitely helped me in medical school in both the classroom and in the clinic. My pre-health adviser, Dr. Carol Bokros, played a major role in not only encouraging my career aspirations, but she also took an active role in mentoring me through my undergraduate years. I don't think I would have made it this far without her help.
What would you say to current and prospective Mercer students?
Mercer is filled with amazing opportunities and has really grown over the past several years. If you're looking for a smaller school where you can get to know everyone around you, Mercer is for you. The University is rapidly expanding, and with that expansion, I can tell that new opportunities are opening up for students. The professors at Mercer are unlike those you'll see at large universities. They take an active role in the education and lives of their students, and honestly, I find that to be one of the best attributes of the University. I will never regret making the decision of transferring there.