UK HealthCare

UK Medicine Grad’s Nontraditional Path Prepares Him for Next Steps

Jonathan Davies
After earning his bachelor's, master's, and now medical degree from UK, Jonathan Davies will continue his training at University of Texas-Southwestern’s general surgery residency program.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 13, 2022) While completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Kentucky, Jonathan Davies found himself at a crossroads. He had stretched himself too thin with involvement in organizations and programs, and he started suffering burnout. He then missed the window to take his medical school entrance exam junior year.

At first, he felt lost and far behind his peers. But he learned later that this wasn’t a misstep. It was a redirection.

Jonathan connected with the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Office of Admissions, including Wendy Jackson, M.D., associate dean for admissions, and Kimberly Scott, then assistant director for admissions, to see how he could stay on track for medical school. He was advised to attend graduate school to bolster his portfolio, so he enrolled in the Master of Science in Medical Sciences program at the UK College of Medicine. Looking back now, he calls it “one of the best decisions I made.”

The master’s degree program, managed through the Office of Biomedical Education, prepares students for careers in biomedical research, the pharmaceutical industry, or health science professions. It can also be a preliminary degree program to applying for medical school, which is why it was recommended for Jonathan.

The program provided educational opportunities Jonathan hadn’t even expected. He worked with expert scientists, specifically Hollie Swanson, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and nutritional sciences and director of the Biomedical Science Graduate Program. He eventually published very collaborative research on topics related to medicine and also served as a teaching assistant in chemistry labs, an experience that cemented his desire to become an educator.

“I think it was the right time and right space that I needed, and everything just sort of worked out,” Jonathan said. “Honestly, at the time, I felt like I just couldn't get through it, but looking back it was so much better for me. It paid off in the long run.”

The timeline helped Jonathan reset and refocus so that when he did apply to medical school, he was mentally prepared. He started medical training in 2018, and since then, he has thrived.

This spring, Jonathan will fulfill his long-awaited dream and graduate with a Doctorate of Medicine.

On Match Day, he learned that he matched into the University of Texas-Southwestern’s general surgery residency program, which he plans to follow with a pediatric surgery fellowship. He said he looks forward to learning alongside surgeons, helping manage high caseloads in a busy emergency department, and teaching medical students and residents.

Thanks to his nontraditional path to a medical degree, Jonathan feels even more prepared for his next step. Not only has he gained valuable research experience, but also the understanding that “comparison is a thief of joy.”

He hopes prospective medical students can learn from his experience.

“I want them to know that you can be successful and still have had missteps and trials and tribulations,” he said.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.