CLEVELAND — At 43, Shamone Gore Panter — a working mom of four — chose a different path, when life took a sudden turn.
"My mother passed away a few years ago," Panter explained. "She was young. My sister passed away just recently; she was young.
"What got me going was when my mother passed away — sudden cardiac death just out of the blue."
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Losing both her mother and sister motivated Shamone to finally chase her passion and become a doctor.
"I was like, 'OK, I need to figure out why this happened,'" she recalled of the aftermath. "'This doesn't make any sense to me.'"
So, in December, she went back to medical school. She was accepted into the TCC program, known as the "Transformative Care Continued" program, a six-year Ohio State University curriculum offered through Cleveland Clinic specific to those who want to practice family medicine.
Program Director Dr. Sandy Snyder says it was a perfect fir for Panter.
"We really try to go after students who have roots in Northeast Ohio and also come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds," Panter said. "We're really looking forward to producing a workforce that really looks like the communities we serve.
"[Shamone] has that — the lived experience, a lot of grit, and is just passionate about family medicine and wanting to make a difference in the community, so she fits well into this program."
Shamone says the pandemic player a big role in her decision to return to the classroom, too.
"[I] did some teaching, taught part-time first and then got a full-time job," she told us. "And then COVID happened, and Black folks did not do well during COVID.
"We have such high rates of some of the chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension. Some of it had to do with the lack of trust in the medical field which is really sad because we pay for it."
In chasing her dream, Panter realized just how much representation matters, especially in the medical field.
"You learn over time that your family medicine physician is the one you have a relationship with, so that's the one that you trust the most," she said. "They're your regular everyday care. You go to them when you're sick. They're kind of like your quarterback for all of your specialist[s]. I said, 'That's where I want to go. That's what I want to do.'"
"As an African American female, she is going to offer so much to our community to really help and improve," Snyder added.
While memories of her mom and sister will help her when challenges arise, Shamone says those difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.
"It's a reminder that I'm a representation of them and I cant give up because of that, or I'm not honoring them," she remarked. "I also believe everything happens for a reason, because ... I may have gone in a different direction."
As she continues the TCC program, Shamone is set to earn her osteopathic medical doctorate and begin diagnosing and treating patients in May of 2025.
"If its possible, do it," she says, "because if you don't, you'll regret it."