Undaunted: A Medical Student’s Perseverance

We’re highlighting our Class of 2024 students in advance of Match Day 2024, taking place on March 15. Stay connected with the Miller School of Medicine on social media for more student profiles and to follow along for live Match Day coverage.

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Class of 2024 medical student Narges Maskan’s toughest experiences early in life led to her perseverance and gratitude for having graduated from medical school.

Born in Afghanistan, Maskan and her mother and younger sister sought refuge in Southern California to escape the Taliban. This tumultuous period exposed her to the complexities of the U.S. health system, particularly when she needed specialized care for an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia.

“Being a patient gave me a unique perspective of where the gaps are in our system and how easily one can fall through those cracks,” Maskan said.

Narges Maskan at the Miller School's White Coat Ceremony with other graduating students
Narges Maskan (center) says the diversity of the Miller School and Miami provides unique clinical opportunities.

Even then, she remembers the great relief she felt when she finally saw a specialist. 

“Even though the arrhythmia hadn’t been cured yet,” she said, “there is a significant sense of healing when you have a clinician supporting you and advocating on your behalf.”

The experience ignited her desire to become a physician and offer the same advocacy and relief to future patients.

Maskan’s journey to medical school was riddled with hurdles. Her high school experience was marked by absences due to her arrhythmia and, upon entering UC Davis, she had a substantial learning curve compared to her peers. 

“I knew I had to put extra effort to keep up with my peers,” she said. “But facing those obstacles and barriers helped prepare me for medical school. I knew how to work through any challenge.”

The Miller School’s Unique Opportunity

Maskan says her years at the Miller School have been the best of her life.  

“At our institution, both our faculty and patients are diverse, so it’s a unique opportunity to gain a broad range of clinical skills,” she said. “The training is unparalleled compared to the rest of the country. All the rare things you learn about in the textbooks can potentially walk through your doors.”

Mentors played a big role in her journey, providing valuable guidance and shaping her career trajectory.

“For me, one of the important lessons is to listen, take your time and build relationships with your patients,” she said. 

Dermatology became a focal point for Maskan. She accepted a research fellowship with the Dr. Phillip Frost Department of Dermatology at the Miller School and worked at the University of Miami Wound Healing Center and the Wound Clinic at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Miller School 2024 medical graduate Narges Maskan (second from right) with three other women in white medical coats
Narges Maskan (second from right) hopes to return to the community where she was raised to bring medical care to the underserved.

“I was particularly drawn to this research fellowship because it provided an opportunity to gain clinical skills and work with a patient population with complex health needs,” Maskan said. “Within a few weeks, I was actively involved in running the county wound clinic for most of the year alongside the residents at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Wound healing is a unique field within dermatology, and I’m grateful to have learned it from some of the world’s experts.”

Maskan also developed a passion for treating patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), a chronic inflammatory condition in which patients develop small, painful lumps under the skin. The lumps can heal, recur and result in tunnels and scarring beneath the skin’s surface.

“Despite it being a common condition, it can take up to 10 years for patients with HS to receive a diagnosis,” she notes. “Working with this patient population, in some ways, mirrored my experience of having an undiagnosed condition and highlighted how challenging it can be to navigate the health care system.”

Aspirations to Teach, Give Back, Create Access 

Maskan taught high school biology before medical school and aspires to be a clinician educator. Her focus is medical education and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds as they pursue careers in medicine. Ultimately, she wants to work in the underserved community in which she grew up.

Miller School medical student Narges Maskan with her cat
Maskan’s advice for aspiring physician-researchers? “Keep pushing forward.”

“What I love about teaching is the chance to amplify my impact,” Maskan said. “Teaching within medicine allows you to positively influence a larger number of individuals compared to individual clinical work, and it creates a domino effect of knowledge and skills that can leave a positive mark in the community.”

As she prepares for residency, Maskan reflects on the lessons she has learned, in medical school and life.

“Keep pushing forward,” she said. “Remember your why and hold onto it. It’s a long road that can be challenging at times, but with focus, reflection, and learning from your struggles, everything has a way of working out. Have a positive mindset and, most of all, focus on enjoying the process.”

Tags: Match Day 2024, Miller School of Medicine, Miller School of Medicine Class of 2024