Maryland Adventist Becomes First Black Female Neurosurgery Resident at Johns Hopkins
Story by Margaret Attey
Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, member of the Potomac Conference's Washington-Ghanaian church in Spencerville, Md., made history March 17 when she became the first black female neurosurgery resident to be accepted at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Abu-Bonsrah plans to complete her seven years of medical specialization in the same department Dr. Ben Carson, now the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, made medical history.
The annual match, considered a national rite of passage for physicians-in-training, helps fill available medical training positions around the United States. The National Residency Matching Program reported over 43,000 applicants this year, the highest on record since the process began in 1952. Between September and February, fourth-year medical students apply for positions, participate in intensive interviews and choose departments they would like to continue their studies in. Computer algorithms then complete matches by pairing applicants’ choices with the preferences of residency programs.
Johns Hopkins’ prestigious program, ranked in the top three in the country, accepts only two to five residents each year. “I’m humbled,” says Abu-Bonsrah. “I have dreamed of becoming a physician since I was a kid. I decided I wanted to do neurosurgery after witnessing a surgical procedure on the brain. I was blown away. I was fascinated by the skills the surgeons had and seeing patients get back on their feet sealed my decision. For me, this is beginning a journey. Johns Hopkins is one of the best places to train for neurosurgery. To go through the process of applying, being chosen as a resident and being a trailblazer for women is a huge privilege and honor.”
Abu-Bonsrah is used to making waves in academic achievements, making the Dean’s List at Mount St. Mary's University and winning an onslaught of awards like The American Chemical Society Award for Most Outstanding Student, 1st Place Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-UMBC Undergraduate Symposium, Women In Science Leadership and Outstanding Achievement in Organic Chemistry. Even through her grueling courses, Abu-Bonsrah has remained active outside of class by participating in extracurricular activities such as being a mentor for the Student National Medical Organization, a tutor for Healthy Minds and a healthcare advocate for Health Leads.
Abu-Bonsrah recently married Kwabena Yamoah, who is a third-year medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore Campus. The couple shares the vision of becoming medical missionaries. Abu-Bonsrah one day hopes to help advance global surgical care.
Tiffany Doss contributed to this report.