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Published on March 29, 2018

Doctors' Day Recognizes the Inspiring Works of Physicians

Cone Health also celebrates the inspiring journeys some take in becoming physicians.


Christina Rama, MD, builds trust. She is a hospitalist, a specialist who manages care while people are in the hospital. Since people usually aren’t in the hospital long, building trust quickly is important.

Christina Rama, MD

Rama’s quick smile and inquisitive eyes help. They also — along with a yearlong game of “Stump the Rama” — brought her to this point.

Rama didn’t start as a doctor. She became a nursing assistant after high school. She kept that job while earning a college degree and became a psychiatric tech. But those inquisitive eyes kept seeing new possibilities. After earning a nursing degree, Rama eventually became an oncology nurse at Cone Health.

The science of oncology fascinated her. “I always wanted to learn more about the diseases and the medicines we were giving patients,” says Rama. “The physicians here were excellent role models.” Rama was constantly asking them about the care they were providing patients. When Rama finally realized she was ready to become a doctor, she knew exactly where to go for a letter of recommendation.

But you just don’t take letters of recommendation and enroll in medical school. First you have to take a stifling exam called the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT®), then go through interviews.

Youland Williams, RN, CNO

The MCAT focused on three areas: physics, chemistry and biology. Fortunately, that quick smile helped. “She had a very collaborative and collegial relationship with everyone,” says Youland Williams, RN, now the chief nursing officer at Wesley Long Hospital. “Everyone wanted to see her succeed, so helping her study was the natural thing to do.”

Rama created hundreds of flash cards. She gave cards to her fellow nurses and nursing techs working the night shift at Moses Cone Hospital. Once the patients fell asleep, they played “Stump the Rama.” They played every night for about a year. Rama credits her co-workers for helping her pass the MCAT. It was compassion that helped her become a doctor. “I think it was the impact I made as a nurse,” says Rama. “While the MCAT scores got me the interview, my personal connections to my patients got me through the interviews.”

“Being a nurse has made Dr. Rama a more caring and compassionate physician,” says Williams. “She has empathy and listens. She is an outstanding patient advocate.”

“I have seen the practice of medicine from every angle and every level of experience,” says Rama. “When you do the job of a nurse or a psychiatric tech or a nursing assistant, you are afforded a window into people. You can’t help but develop a compassion for people.”

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