Chicago-based entrepreneur Theresa Siaw saw a need in her community. There was a lack of qualified doctors on the West Side of Chicago and Siaw already knew how difficult it is for many foreign trained medical students and doctors to work in the United States. So she devised a plan: through her business OMNI Medical Student Training Program she would help place students who have trained at foreign medical school to prepare for their first job in the United States. But specifically she chose to integrate medical students from the Caribbean into residency programs on the West side of Chicago. After a few years in business Siaw is already seeing results: she’s helped over 100 medical students land jobs in Chicago and she knows she’s helping others in her community.
Siaw’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
The reason behind starting the OMNI Medical Student Training Program stemmed from seeing the need for qualified physicians and doctors while working at a healthcare clinic on the West Side of Chicago. There was a need for this kind of service within the medical community. The main mission is to help integrate students from Caribbean countries to different hospitals in Chicago for their residency training. The program works with three medical schools in the Caribbean and helps up to 100 students each year.
The definition of success to me is knowing that I am helping others. As long as one person is benefiting from the efforts I am making, whether it be through business or just going about my day, I feel I have achieved success. Being able to make a positive impact in other peoples lives and being able to help them or provide a service that was lacking is what makes me feel successful.
Seeing all of the students the program has placed into residencies is my biggest success to date. Knowing that this program is making a difference not only to the students but also all of the patients they will go on to serve down the line is great to see. While most people measure success by how much money is being made or how many locations they are opening. Being able to see how my business is making a positive impact on other people is how I measure my success. So far, the program has placed over 100 students and continues to grow each year.
One of the biggest mistakes and challenges I faced was hiring friends. Having your friends as employees blurs certain lines of professionalism because sometimes, they don’t work out and you have to fire them. If you do hire friends as employees you need to be sure to set boundaries in the workplace. Keep your friendships outside of work.
Also, being a woman in business I have had to work twice as hard to prove myself especially in the medical field. There have been instances where people have not taken me seriously or given me the time of day because they did not think I was qualified. I am nothing if not persistent though. The more people tell me I can not do something or turn me away the harder I work to prove them wrong and achieve my goals.
The whole concept of my business stems from the death of my son’s father. He was in the medical industry and making a huge impact on his community through the work he did with his medical clinic. Seeing all of the good work he was doing inspired me to carry on his legacy through the creation of my own business, which filled a void in the medical industry in Chicago.
My son motivates me, as I want him to grow up in a better world and be a good example for him. My greatest motivation has been my mother who was my number one cheerleader. She always taught me how to treat everybody with kindness and respect. She is no longer with us today, as she passed away from breast cancer, but I do believe she is looking down on me and would be proud of the work I am doing to help others in my community and in healthcare.