Josh Musalia’s uncle, an orthopaedic surgeon in Kenya, served as his inspiration for going to medical school. Musalia was moved by what his being a doctor represented: people counted on him, he was a valuable member of the community, and he served as a go-to for medical expertise.

Musalia aspired for that same meaningful patient interaction as a physician.

He experienced those first pivotal moments while training at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. During his third-year neurology rotation, he met a patient with a difficult diagnosis who looked at him “like a brother.” Then there was a patient during his obstetrics and gynecology rotation being treated for ovarian cancer. After a day off, Musalia returned to find out she was asking about him. “Where’s Josh? I don’t want to talk to anyone else,” his classmates recalled her saying.

“That was really encouraging because the patients notice that you care,” Musalia said. “It drives your care. They will trust you and trust your judgment. They put their hope in you, and you’re there to provide the best care possible.”

After graduating this spring, Musalia hopes to deliver that compassionate, patient-centered care as a doctor. He said his experience at the University of Kentucky will help him achieve that goal.

He joined UK for undergrad, wanting to stay close to his parents in Bowling Green, Ky. He fell in love with the campus and city of Lexington, Ky., for its welcoming environment, good size, and notable amenities. He pursued a public health undergraduate degree, through which he learned how policy and environmental factors impact health care.

When it came time for medical school, Musalia applied early decision at the UK College of Medicine. “I realized I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” he said.

Driven to learn how he could best advocate for patients, Musalia became involved in multiple organizations during his time at the UK College of Medicine. He enjoyed his work with the American Medical Association (AMA), where he served as chapter president during his third year. He honed his leadership skills, learned how to manage an executive team and increase student engagement, and helped bring well-regarded speakers to UK.

Musalia is also passionate about helping increase representation for Black men in medicine. He participated in UK’s chapter of Black Men in White Coats, a national organization seeking to increase the number of Black men in the medical field. He also was a member of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), which allowed him to attend the Annual Medical Education Conference this year. He said the experience felt like a homecoming.

“Seeing that many African-American faces in medicine, I thought, wow, we're making progress. We’re seeing more and more Black and Brown faces in medicine, which is something that we all hope continues to happen,” he said.

Starting this summer, Musalia will join the internal medicine residency program at the University of Cincinnati.

As for what most excites him about this opportunity, he remains inspired by the meaningful patient care he can offer.

“Looking back, I can see so many times where it could have been easy to quit, but getting to work with patients, that's always been my goal. That's always been my dream,” Musalia said. “Patient interactions just give me so much life. I see where compassionate care can make the true difference for these patients.”