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JR Smith, 2024 medical school graduate

May 13, 2024

By Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science staff

Graduating medical student, JR Smith, shares his medical school journey on the Youtube channel, Evolving Medic. Learn more about how his passion for education, mentorship, and equity has shaped his medical journey.

Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Undergraduate: Duke University
Specialty you plan to pursue: Orthopedic surgery

From patient to doctor

JR Smith's interest in a career in medicine began as a patient himself. While competing as a track and field athlete in college, he experienced a traumatic knee injury requiring surgical intervention.

"Experiencing the intricate reconstruction and rehabilitation process that ultimately returned me to the track sparked a fascination with the human body's remarkable healing potential," he reflects. "My surgeon, with his unwavering dedication and genuine care, became a role model for me and a source of inspiration to restore mobility and function for others."

JR is continuing his training as a resident in orthopedic surgery at Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education.

Sharing his journey

When JR Smith was applying to medical school, he read a statistic that made an impression on him — that there were more Black men applying and matriculating to medical school in the 1970s than there are today.

JR believed that one factor contributing to the drop-off was the lack of visual representation of Black men in medicine. He wanted to change that. As he progressed through the medical school application process, he documented his journey on his YouTube channel, Evolving Medic.

"I decided to share the strategies that I found helpful to succeed as a premedical and medical student," shares JR. "My hope was that students who resonated with me would be motivated to pursue medicine as a career and have the tools necessary to succeed."

"My journey through medical school has been fueled primarily by two passions: mentorship and education," he explains. "Witnessing firsthand the transformative power of knowledge not only in my own learning but also in the experiences of others ignited a desire to empower future generations of medical professionals. This passion led me to create educational content specifically tailored to support premedical and medical students on their journeys."

The need has hit home with many viewers. Evolving Medic has more than 150 videos and over 36,000 subscribers. The channel has attracted partnerships with various healthcare-related companies, including a scrubs company and education-based resources.

The power of mentorship

"My journey through medical school has been profoundly shaped by the invaluable guidance and support of mentors. From seasoned physicians offering pearls of wisdom, to upperclassmen and residents sharing their experiences, these individuals have played a crucial role in my growth and development. Mentorship helped to provide academic guidance while fostering a sense of community and belonging in the demanding world of medicine. As I approach residency and beyond, I understand the crucial role mentorship plays in shaping future generations of physicians. I am deeply grateful for the guidance I have received and aspire to pay it forward, expanding my own mentorship and contributing to the supportive network that is so essential for success in medicine. 


Learn more about Commencement for Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine and Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.