The decision to become a physician was made quickly, and made early. My mother, having worked in almost every major hospital in Boston, would often come home with stories of admiration for the physicians she worked for as a medical secretary explains how much the physician cared for their patient, the extra steps they would take, their attention to detail, the good work they do. The decision to become a physician was not one of divine intervention; it was a slow, progressive understanding, a calm acknowledgment of the person I knew I would become. I wanted to travel, I wanted to help people by making a direct impact, I wanted to learn, and I wanted to teach.
By the time I started college, I had every determination to do these things without any discernible direction. I would grasp at pieces through the pursuit of political science in wanting to help people by rallying in their defense, in wanting to make a difference through the pursuit of environmental science, in wanting to teach and be taught through the pursuit of education; yet none of these pursuits captured the entire picture, or allowed me to pursue my goals in their entirety.
I fell into the pursuit of medicine as one falls asleep, or as Neruda falls in love: slowly, and then all at once. In taking an EMT course during a gap year between colleges, I made the conscious decision to pursue medicine as a career. The dream I had as a boy, that had helped me shape the type of man I would become, became a dream realized.
Throughout my college career I have pursued many interests; none of them wasted, as they all contributed to where I am today. I have worked full-time as an EMT, and then as a medial scribe while in school. which have afforded me the opportunity to be published in two separate papers. I have been selected into four honors societies, and served on the Honors College Advisory Board where I worked with the Dean of the Honors College to begin a program at Old Dominion that partners with EVMS to create a more-streamlined process that links the importance of humanities students and medicine; and functioned as an editor for the Honors Journal. I have shadowed Dr. O’Donnell in the MICU at Mass General Hospital where I saw first-hand the integration of medicine and community impact, and also shadowed Dr. Haleem in the Ghent Family Clinic where I learned the importance of preventative medicine.
Medicine, as an idea, is one of compassion. It’s an acceptance of one’s limitations as a physician, the acknowledgement of the patient as a person, and not as an illness; and the attempt to find common ground. Medicine transcends the boundaries of geopolitical space, language, and religious belief. It prides itself in continuous education, while still maintaining an air of humility. Medicine is the greatest common denominator: the one thing that reminds us that we are all the same, and require the same care, love, and understanding. Medicine, at its core, is love.