Before she could properly pronounce the word 'doctor', Monique Ford wanted to study medicine. Decades later, she is still committed to this goal.
"You have to be dedicated to it," she notes. Dr. Ford is currently in the third year of her cardiology fellowship at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota.
"If at the beginning someone had told us that 14 years later we would still be studying, many of us would have dropped out already.Unlike other studies, with medicine you're not stuck in a classroom. It's like an apprenticeship, so in a way you have already started. By third year you're in the hospital. At times it can be frustrating and you feel like you're socially delayed. In other disciplines, you would have graduated and climbed up the ladder. But once you've finished, it takes off and you catch up pretty quickly. Sometimes you surpass them."
Ford's interest at first was general surgery. However, during her first clinical year at the University of the West Indies (UWI), she worked with cardiologist Dr. Charles Denbow on a rotation. "I was amazed at how brilliant he was and I became fascinated with cardiology. It encompasses all that fascinates me in medicine. It's the major cause of death in the United States and the world, and it covers a wide range of illnesses. It's a lot of hands-on work."
Despite the rigours of her training, Dr. Ford still finds the time to serve on the boards of numerous non-governmental organisations. "Getting time for anything else is difficult, but people will do what is important to them," notes Dr. Ford.
Contributing to Jamaica is important to her. She is currently the chairperson/ programme manager of the Jamaica Minnesota Organisation (JMO). The Ford-JMO Medical project was established in October 2005 in her honour by this non-profit group. Activities have included an annual book drive to obtain medical books and equipment for needy Jamaican medical students. They also do fund-raising to provide scholarships for high-school students.
She is also a member of the Organisation of Strategic Development in Jamaica and a member of the Executive Planning Committee of the Advancements in Medicine Conference: A U.S. and Caribbean Perspective, among others.
Recently, Dr. Ford was appointed instructor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. This title is Dr. Ford's first step to professorship, though she stresses to Flair this takes many, manyyears to achieve. However, there is little doubt that it's attainable for someone who excels in everything she does.
She began her medical studies when she received the Jamaica Association of Northern Carolina scholarship and Jamaica Flour Mill's Foundation scholarships in 1994. In 1999, she graduated from the UWI with an honours degree in surgery. She completed her internship at the Kingston Public Hospital, then completed her residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic. There, she was awarded Intern of the Year and in 2005, received the LeeAnn McCaffrey, M.D. Women in Medicine annual award.
Dr. Ford completes her cardiovascular fellow in 2009. "After I finish, I'll begin my career. I'll obtain more experience, become a resource for others. I want to be involved in training others."
Her life, however, has not all been about academic excellence, and she remains very humble. She believes in maintaining a balance. "I'm a Christian, so I go to church religiously every Sunday. There is a small Jamaican community here that's very supportive like a family. I love to travel, I went to Europe last year and I also read novels. I'm currently reading the Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson. I also try to maintain my fluency in Spanish and, of course, I have an aquarium."
Despite the rigours of her training, Dr. Ford still finds the time to serve on the boards of numerous non-governmental organisations. 'Getting time for anything else is difficult, but people will do what is important to them.'