Trusting that I have the will to do the work and if I work hard enough, I will achieve my highest potential

Who is Dr. Jessica Briscoe?

I’m a Gastroenterology (GI) fellow; I focus on diagnosing and treating patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders.  I am learning a wide range of minimally invasive procedures to further aid in diagnosis and treatment.  



Special Awards

I graduated cum laude with BS in Biology from UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore County).  I completed this degree on full scholarship via the Meyerhoff scholars program; a program that focuses on increasing minority presence in STEM fields.  Additionally, I was also accepted Howard Hughes Medical Institute scholars program and MARC U STAR program while obtaining my undergraduate degree.
I received my MD from NYU School of Medicine.  I completed my Internal Medicine residency training at the University of Maryland Medical Center.  I was a hospitalist for a year before starting my training in GI.



How did you choose to pursue this field?

I decided to pursue this field because of my love for people and the community.  I was originally planning to pursue a Ph.D.  I worked in an HIV basic science research lab throughout college.  This was an amazing experience through which I realized I loved the overall concept of the research ideas, but I desired to see the impact of the research breakthroughs in patients for myself.  This led me to medicine.  I became attracted to GI because this field encompasses a wide range of pathology; I love being able to diagnose problems in the office and then perform procedures that help treat the problem or aid in diagnosis.



What do you love most about your job?

I LOVE procedures!  It is such a satisfying feeling to stop a life-threatening bleed or diagnose or remove malignant lesions of the colon before they are able to metastasize and become untreatable.  I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity and skill to do this work.



What things would you change about your current job?

 Diversity, we need a change.  The field is not all diverse, it is still a heavily male-dominated field.  Only ~13% of GIs are women and only about 4% of GIs are black.



What are the most difficult things about working in your field?

I think Medical training is such a high-pressure competitive environment, the weight of the responsibility can be daunting.  We need to know and do so many things all at once, it can be very overwhelming and stressful at times.  This is also compounded by the lack of diversity and the lingering feeling of always having to prove why I deserve to be where I am.  I personally always felt I had to perform above and beyond the regular “high standard,” to be noted as exceptional; the added pressure can feel so burdensome.



What are your future goals related to your career?

My overall goal for my career is to become a fellowship program director.  There a very few female physicians in leadership positions in GI sections across the country.  If I want to see the field change and become more diverse, I need to be in the position to make changes that impact the next generation of Doctors. 



What tips would you offer to anyone thinking about entering into your profession/field of study?

Do your best to attend a solid residency program, often your acceptance in GI fellowship depends on where you trained.  Find a mentor in GI that supports you, and can advise you on the intricacies of obtaining a fellowship position.  GI is one of the most competitive subspecialties in medicine, establishing a good relationship with your Internal Medicine program leadership will be invaluable as they will be writing some of your letters of recommendation and advocating for you to obtain interviews.  In addition to mentorship, forming a tribe of strong, motivated women that understand and support you is imperative.  I am so thankful for my family and my tribe!  The journey of medical training is a marathon, you need to surround yourself with people who can help, encourage, and push you to achieve your best.  I am in multiple group chats where we speak on everything from pop culture and hair to discussing ideas for an IRB. You need this!



How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?

Being a woman of color in STEM is not easy (understatement of the year).  To combat the stigma, I think I combat the stigma by doing/being your best and never letting anyone tell me that I cannot do something.  Trusting that I have the will to do the work and if I work hard enough, I will achieve my highest potential.  I would encourage other young ladies to ask for help, seek mentorship, ask questions until you get the answer or direction you need to do the work.  When you do this, facts don’t lie; whatever perceptions they had of you will be dismantled by the presence of your greatness and work ethic.  I still struggle with this at times because the truth is when you are always in rooms where no one looks like you, the feeling that you have something to prove can be overwhelming at times.  It helps to have an amazing support system that sees and cultivates your potential to help you through those times where you can’t see your own greatness.  Above everything, my faith in God and a solid foundation has carried me and will continue to see me through this process.



What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?

 Be confident.  You know more than you think you know.  What you don’t know, most of the people in the room don’t either, so ASK QUESTIONS.  Be confident in your ability, and don’t be so easily swayed by others perspectives or opinions.  Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.  You are here for a reason and people see that.



My Family Influence

I have the most wonderful, amazing, supportive husband of 5 years.  I am first generation American, both of my parents were born and raised in Jamaica.  I have a large, loving, supportive, Godly family.  My husband and in-laws are also from Jamaica, so we have very strong roots!


We hope you enjoyed learning about our latest “STEMsation”, please comment about how her experiences have inspired you, how your experiences can inspire others and nominate our next “STEMsation to spotlight their amazing accomplishments.



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