Medical pathways: One neurosurgeon’s remarkable journey from the Caribbean to California

Posted by Doximity TF Team

drkamalwoods-2Meet Kamal Woods, MD, a neurosurgeon who practices in Murietta, California. One of the most tech-savvy doctors we’ve ever met, Dr. Woods wears perfectly patterned shirt-and-tie combos and exudes great humor and warmth (take THAT all those neurosurgeon stereotypes).

To introduce a new blog series, the Doximity Talent Finder team asked Dr. Woods about the pathway he took to become a practicing neurosurgeon. It wasn’t exactly brain surgery (sorry, we had to say it) but it was a remarkable journey of awakening.


Dr. Woods hails from a volcanic Caribbean island called Saint Vincent. The largest island of the country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, his home lies in the Caribbean Sea between Saint Lucia and Grenada. Dr. Woods did his undergrad work at University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), called Caribbean Union College (CUC) at the time, before he was accepted at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. He completed his medical training and his residency there. He then even took a position at Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he served as Assistant Program Director of Neurosurgery.

saint vincent and the grenadines

As early as high school, Dr. Woods says he loved the sciences (no surprise there) and spent a lot of time thinking about what he was going to do in life. In college, he majored in Biology and actually considered being an ornithologist or an astrophysicist. Then he saw an episode of the medical-based Emmy-award-winning television series, Trauma: Life in the ER and it changed his life.

Dr. Woods admits he “got hooked” on the TV series and that’s when he started thinking about becoming a doctor. He wondered if he could hack it. He even wondered if he could handle the blood! More than anything, though, Dr. Woods was enamored with the idea that he could do something that would make a difference in the lives of people. So while Dr. Woods was still in college, he took the MCAT and applied to medical school.

Now Dr. Woods extolls neurosurgery as his calling.

The first time I saw a living, pulsatile brain as a medical student, I knew that destiny was calling me. In that moment, it struck me that I was staring at the essence of who that person was: their thought, emotions, motives, fears, aspirations.”

That brings us to now. Even though nearly 40% of physicians today say that they would not choose to enter the medical profession if given the opportunity to do it all over, Dr. Woods doesn’t have a single regret. Not one. "I love what I do, says Dr. Woods. "I get to touch people’s life in a very tangible way. It’s interesting that my younger brother has decided to become a neurosurgeon as well and is now in residency at Loma Linda. I would never let him take this path if I felt I had made a mistake.”

What would Dr. Woods do differently? “I would enjoy medical school more. The people you attend medical school with are smart—that’s a given—but they are also some of the coolest, most interesting people on the planet.” Dr. Woods says he was so focused on his career path (and you have to be to become a neurosurgeon) but looking back, says Dr. Woods, “I wish I had made more of medical school and those friendships.”

advanced-neurosurgery-associatesApril 1, 2015 marked the beginning of an exciting new adventure for Dr. Woods, the opening of a private practice: Advanced Neurosurgery Associates in Murietta, California with another neurosurgeon. Although a growing number of physicians (more than 50%) are moving away form independent practice, Dr. Woods says he decided he could be better at what he does in private practice.

Every day of my life, I set out to be the very best that I can be. Not the best in the world, just the best that I can be.”  - Kamal Woods, MD

Believe it or not, Dr. Woods worked with a physician recruiter before he landed his position at Loma Linda Medical University (Andrea Winslow a Neurosurgery Recruiting Specialist at RosmanSearch, Inc.) and speaks highly of her. “She wasn’t pushy,” says Dr. Woods. “She understood my wants and needs and made a human connection with me. She knew what I was looking for and genuinely portrayed a desire to find what I wanted. She was well connected and great at navigating the specialty.”

A technology lover, Dr. Woods puts Doximity to work with colleagues nearly every day. “I use it primarily for communication and now I’m using it to market my new practice, too. It’s a great way to let others know what you’re doing.” Dr. Woods has written on the topic of online physician branding on the Doximity blog, and he uses Facebook and Twitter (he’s clearly a patient favorite if you consider he has 5 out of 5 stars on virtually every patient review). One happy patient at Loma Linda Medical University is even featured in a video about his own spine surgery.

Happy neurosurgeon. Satisfied patients. If you ask us, Dr. Woods’ journey from the Caribbean to California was definitely worth sharing.

 

If you know a physician with a great story about their own medical pathway, tell us about it via email: talentfinder@doximity.com. And if you aren't using Doximity to find great physician candidates, sign up for a free demo now! 

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Topics: physician recruitment, neurosurgeon, medical pathways, Dr. Kamal Woods

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