Seventeen years after graduating from Salem High School, Blair Dodson achieved another academic accomplishment last month, graduating with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). Reaching that milestone means the world to Dodson because of the journey she took to get there.
Dodson admits that she lacked motivation and passion in high school. As she put it, “I did what I had to do to get by, but not very gracefully at times. I acted out and put my family under a lot of unnecessary stress. I quit easily in the face of adversity back then.”
Unsure of what she wanted to do with her life at that time, she was encouraged to get into the nursing field because of the job security.
After Salem High, Dodson attended Coastal Carolina University where she majored in pre-nursing. After two years there, she transferred to the Radford University Nursing School.
“I started working in the NeuroTrauma Intensive Care Unit at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke after graduating from the Radford program in 2008. Shortly after that, I decided that I wanted to go to medical school. I fell in love with the science and practice of medicine,” she said. “Of course, the transition was not an easy one. I had very few of the pre-requisites for medical school, so I had to spend the next six years figuring out how to construct a medical school application.”
In 2016, Dodson began studying at Eastern Virginia Medical School. While at EVMS, she was inducted into the Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the highest honor one can achieve in medical school, during her junior year. Dodson was also the recipient for the Jock R. Wheeler endowed scholarship which is given to students who excel academically.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced why Dodson got into healthcare. She says the coronavirus has been a curse in some aspects in her life, but a blessing in others.
“We were only two weeks away from finishing our last rotation when the school decided to pull medical students from clinical rotations,” she said. “Match day, graduation and award ceremonies were all canceled. It was a bummer to miss out on having that closure and celebration with my classmates who mean the world to me. It has been really nice, however, to have a moment of quiet peacefulness to tie up loose ends and prepare for the next chapter.”
What’s next for Blair Dodson? This month, she will begin an internship in Internal Medicine at Sentara Norfolk General, followed by Radiology Residency in July 2021 at EVMS.
Dodson is appreciative of her family for supporting her through the good times and bad times.
“I can’t thank them enough for everything they did. They believed in my ability even when I had no direction or focus, but they also helped me out financially. Especially my grandmothers, Barbara Booker and Patricia Buckley,” she said. “My mother, Sallie Dodson, helped me logistically and emotionally manage the uncertainty and limited free time. My brothers have always been my best friends. My father, Kevin Dodson, passed away in 2012. My vision was still in its infancy stages then, but I think he would approve.”