TouroCOM Twins on a Mission to Serve
Middletown’s Kimberly and Bridget Brafi Follow Similar Paths to Medicine and Helping Others
Last summer, TouroCOM Middletown twins Kimberly and Bridget Brafi were excited to be starting the school’s DO and master’s programs, respectively. But there was a wrinkle: they needed permission to skip orientation because they’d already committed to hosting a mentoring session in Virginia for youth on the topic of career readiness.
As things turned out, TouroCOM administrators not only approved the request – they went further and met with the twins and community leaders from their church to brainstorm how the parties might work together down the road.
“They’re very involved in mentoring young African Americans who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. They’re very good role models,” explained Assistant Dean of Students Francis Rose, Jr. “We met to see how we can get the community involved with the school and vice versa. Heads were spinning because we were shooting so many ideas at them. What they do is aligned with our mission.”
A Calling to Serve
TouroCOM’s mission - to serve underserved communities and to increase the representation of underrepresented minorities in medicine - is key to what attracted the sisters to the medical school.
Kimberly applied first, but lacking high MCAT scores and with an average GPA, she was steered towards TouroCOM’s one-year master’s pipeline program, a stepping stone to qualify for the DO program. Bridget, meanwhile, was earning a master’s in public health at New York University and studying abroad. In fall 2021, she too enrolled in the master’s program, with the same goal of becoming a DO.
Both have high praise for the master’s program, which offers a curriculum nearly identical to that of first-year DO students and places students in the medical school environment, all geared toward grooming them for the rigors of medical school.
“I loved the master’s program,” said Kimberly Brafi. “It strengthened my abilities. It’s rigorous, and it challenges you to be more responsible and mentally strong, having faith that you can accomplish your goals. It taught me patience.”
The Brafis grew up nearby, in Woodbury, N.Y., though they were born in the Bronx and until elementary school lived in the Baychester section of the Bronx in a Jamaican-African community. Their father, a clinical pathologist, and mother, a healthcare worker, emigrated from Ghana. They have an older sister and two younger brothers. Education was valued in the family, with a premium placed on doing well in science and math.
Paths Converge…and Diverge
Not only are they identical twins, but their paths to medical school are similar in many respects: both graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; they worked in the same lab during college, researching E. coli; both performed in the school orchestra and jazz band (Kim the flute, Bridget the violin and bass); both worked at CVS after graduation as pharmacy technicians; and both worked as summer interns at Montefiore Medical Center (Kim in OB/GYN, Bridget the operating room).
They also share long histories of working with youth – together and separately, and today they are co-mentors and program leaders for youth at their nondenominational Christian ministry in Plattekill. They also live next door to each other in student housing at TouroCOM.
“We have always been very close,” said Bridget. “Kim is my best friend. She was in the womb with me.”
While they’ve travelled the same roads on their journeys to medicine, their paths have also diverged. Bridget worked at a public housing project in Philadelphia during college, which led her to pursue her advanced degree in public health. She learned about epidemiology, global public health, and Spanish while interning in Spain and Argentina – accomplishments she believes will enhance her abilities to work in community health with underserved populations.
“I want to do patient care and also community health. I would also like to get into pediatrics because of my love for youth. I love to motivate them. Why not start in pediatrics?” she said.
Kimberly plans to begin rotations next year and is attracted to emergency medicine or plastic surgery. “I always wanted to travel [and work in] international medicine and reconstruct congenital deformities,” she said.
Both draw from Touro’s mission to help underrepresented minorities and communities. Said Kim, “Touro wants to help the community grow and that’s how they’re helping me to reach my goal. If the community grows, everyone can get better.”
Whatever routes they take – and whether together or separately – they’re confident TouroCOM is giving them the skills needed to be successful and fulfill their dreams.
Faculty agree. “They’re self-aware, eager to learn, and demonstrate the professionalism and confidence needed to help them succeed,” observed Assistant Preclinical Dean Stephen Jones, Ph.D. “They’re both inquisitive – to the point where they pop up so often on the zoom with their hands up you have to give the other students an opportunity to get their hands up!”