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MD Program Meet Lesya Cravens
MD Program Class of 2022

Lesyla Cravens, Drexel MD Program Class of 2022

Hometown: Kyiv, Ukraine and Shreveport, LA
Undergraduate: BS in biology, Centenary College of Louisiana
Graduate: Master of Public Health in epidemiology, Drexel University School of Public Health

Tell me a bit about yourself prior to medical school.

I was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and moved to Louisiana with my family when I was 9 years old. I attended Centenary College of Louisiana, a small liberal arts school, and graduated with my BS in biology in 2014. During college, I worked part-time as a research assistant at the local medical school and on the weekends volunteered at a free clinic.

My time at the free clinic is what inspired me to pursue a public health degree and to study and research health disparities, social determinants of health, and epidemiology. Having lived in a large city as a child, I looked forward to experiencing city life again after college, and Philadelphia fit the bill perfectly. I ended up getting my master’s in public health from Drexel's School of Public Health prior to starting at the College of Medicine.

Outside the classroom, my husband (a veterinarian) and I are big animal lovers, and we love spending time with our dogs and visiting the Philadelphia Zoo. In the last years of medical school, I have also been able to rekindle my love of reading. I am always engrossed in a good book to decompress and unwind after long days at the hospital.

What drew you to medicine, and to the College of Medicine specifically?

I feel that medicine was always in the cards for me. I will be a first-generation physician, but I come from a science and medicine-inclined family. Both of my parents are in biomedical research and my grandmother was a nurse. I was in the hospital frequently as a child and ended up looking up to physicians for their ability to lead a team and take care of patients while combining a love for science, investigation and problem-solving.

I chose the College of Medicine partially because I had great experiences with Drexel and its physicians during my MPH years and partially because of the collaborative environment I detected from the faculty and students during my interview. Instead of cut-throat competition, Drexel encourages teamwork and has a sense of family amongst its students. The faculty and administration listen to our concerns and make subsequent changes, which I feel is very important to ensure the best possible education and environment during these challenging years of training.

What are some of the biggest lessons from your time in medical school that you will carry with you into residency?

Everyone knows that medical school is challenging. Even for the most talented and intelligent students, the stark difference between college and medical school is overwhelming. From my time at Drexel, the biggest lesson I learned is to ask for help when needed, even when I was afraid or reluctant to do so. There is a certain strength in being able to identify when you don’t know something or when you are struggling, and to reach out to others for assistance. Even the smartest person in the world does not know everything.

Good doctors must always ask for advice and recommendations from their peers. They shouldn’t be afraid to admit if they don’t know something, and they must be willing to go out of their way to find out what they didn’t know before.

What specialty will you go into? What drew you to this field?

In just a few months I will be starting my career as a neurologist. Although I had been interested in the brain and neuroscience since high school, I would not have said that I saw myself becoming a neurologist at the beginning of medical school.

My first formal exposure to neurology was during college. I worked for several years researching immune responses and treatments of Multiple Sclerosis at the local medical school and got really engrossed in both immunology and neurology. Once I started at the College of Medicine, I was fascinated to discover that many new treatment standards had been discovered in the few years that had elapsed since I had been a researcher. The amount of innovation and new discoveries in neurology was a big reason I grew attached to this specialty. Through my first-year neuroscience course, I also grew to love the analytical and detective-like nature of the field. Neurology would eventually be my first clinical rotation and came with a steep learning curve, but it was also the rotation where I was the happiest at the end of the day and most excited to go in early in the morning.

What aspects of residency programs were most important to you or appealed to you most during the match process?

Applying and interviewing for residency was a stressful process, as was creating my match list. In that process, we’re making a big decision about how and where we will begin our careers. For me, some of the most important aspects were opportunities for leadership and research. I also wanted to have a program that would be supportive and have residents that I could become friends with, not merely coworkers. Physicians spend so much of their time at work, and it is extremely important to have that environment be a place where you can be happy and feel supported.

What drew you to the residency program at Reading Hospital? What are you most looking forward to about your time in the program?

Reading Hospital is the major hospital and only level 1 trauma center for all of Berks County, Pa., making it a great place to see a wide variety of patients and cases. Despite that, it is still close enough to a big city to enjoy the perks.

I rotated with the neurology department at Reading Hospital during my fourth year of medical school and considerably enjoyed my time there. In particular, the program director truly took my opinions on patient management into consideration, made me feel like part of the team, and took extra time to teach me clinical tidbits that you can’t learn in a book. In addition, my family now lives in the Philadelphia suburbs, and I heavily considered the location and my ability to stay close to them while making my match list.

Because the neurology residency is fairly new at Reading Hospital, I am particularly looking forward to helping shape the direction of the program. I want to be a formative force and pursue leadership opportunities during my years there.

Contact Information

Drexel University College of Medicine
Office of Admissions
60 N. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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