The question I often think about in the context of an admissions interview. My stomach sinks to the floor, because the feeling it provokes is one of terror and scrutiny. Like being questioned under a hot lamp in a detective’s holding cell… “Who told you, you could aspire to be something so arduous, and grandiose? What are your motives and what really drives you to want to enter into this highly coveted and prestigious profession?” — in other words, “How dare you?”
I think about what a suitable answer would be, I fret over all the possible cliches and the truth is, my desire, curiosity, drive, is motivated by something intangible; it’s a feeling. Granted there are things about the profession that most would agree are advantageous, but won’t admit for fear of judgement and disdain. You have to love science, master the concepts and application in class and in the clinical setting. Becoming a doctor is a labor of love and great sacrifice, one has to be prepared to endure the challenges of the medical marathon. My desire to become a physician is routed in the personal experiences I’ve had in the context of my own health struggles, and of those closest to me.
I was introduced to the doctor’s office and hospital at a very young age. My mother always made sure we went routinely, in excess to some who “don’t go to the doctor like that.” Doctors were always feared and revered, and thankfully as I got older, I grew to revere and admire them for their dedication, intelligence, breadth of knowledge (and for a small few), patience and compassion. To make one feel at ease during trying times, and feel like more than just a number on a patient sign in sheet requires talent, and for some, its just a matter of being genuine. I have special relationships with some physicians that I wouldn’t trade for anything, no matter how far I move from their offices.
Likewise, the treatment and solace I’ve received from my doctors, is what I hope to give my patients in the future. In the hospital days after my first heart surgery, I received acts of kindness and patience that I will never forget (from certain physicians) that can’t be taught from a text book. Having difficulty swallowing after intubation, my cardiologist went to the cafeteria and purchased yogurt and iced tea, that I didn’t have in my room in an effort to make taking my enormous amount of medication a little easier. She spent extra time (that she didn’t have) explaining what I didn’t understand. She gave me her personal cell phone and home phone number to use in those emergency situations when I needed her most. I don’t know a doctor who would be that accessible to a patient, but I am forever grateful — still six years later. She took on the role of my primary care doctor, therapist and cardiologist, because she recognized the fragile state I was in. And in my vulnerable state, would do all she could to ease my pain and frustration about my health status. She went above and beyond her call of duty, something most will NEVER do.
My electrophysiologist held my hand when I cried about my fears of not being safe on the street in the event of a fatal arrhythmia. My obstetrician – gynecologist visited my bedside one early morning (when she was not on schedule to work at the hospital), to check on me after a myomectomy, that would’ve been a hysterectomy in the wrong doctor’s hands. However because of her support, she pointed me in the direction of the right “cowboy” who would take the risks, another surgeon wouldn’t, in an effort to preserve my fertility, regardless of what the numbers said. Because even though my heart was weak, the idea of having my uterus taken from me, because it was the “easiest solution” to my problem (menorrhagia caused by uterine fibroids), was terrifying and heart breaking. And reproductive justice was just as important in that moment.
My heart was touched by these professionals in ways I will never forget. I don’t know how I could ever thank them enough for the counsel and TIME they have given in advising and “healing” me. One day it dawned on me that I was chosen to go through these trials so that I could share my testimony with others in similar situations in need of reassurance and faith. I want to provide that “feeling” to other people who desperately need an ally, someone to listen, or explain, who won’t judge them, a doctor who will do all she can; above and beyond.