By Adam Davis, OMS-IV | April 22, 2019
During my third-year clerkships, I was presented with sage wisdom from an attending physician: “Medicine is the culmination of all of one’s life experiences.” Reflecting on my own experiences now, I find this statement to be eerily true. My family would tell you that I have been interested in medicine since I was just a toddler “playing doctor” with my little brother using my Fisher Price stethoscope and reflex hammer. No one in my family had ever attended medical school, yet I seemed to have this innate pull towards the field of medicine. This desire to practice medicine was later affirmed by a personal tragedy that occurred my senior year of high school.
On that fateful day, my father awoke with difficulty breathing and severe chest pain radiating to his back. My mother relied on me to call 911 and calmly discuss our need for an ambulance with the operator while she held my father and fed him Baby Aspirin. The EMTs initially diagnosed him with indigestion and made him walk to the ambulance. It wasn’t until we reached the hospital that he was properly diagnosed with a ruptured thoracic aortic aneurysm. I could hear my mother’s wailing cry as she processed the life-changing news. It felt as though my heart were beating in my head and my throat tightened as I attempted to mutter, “What do you mean he won’t make it through the night?” I sat in disbelief as the cardiothoracic surgeon explained the pathophysiology of my father’s thoracic aortic aneurysm. As this brilliant man attempted to explain the diagnoses, lab results, and the battery of tests results, not a single word registered. Through it all, our family physician coordinated our care and stood by our side in our time of need. This extraordinary family physician inspired me to attend medical school and pursue a career in medicine.
Fast forward nearly ten years later, as I stand in a room filled with my classmates on one of the biggest days of our lives: Match Day. My heart races as I struggle to open my envelope and discover that I have successfully matched into my #1 choice for residency, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. My dream of becoming a family medicine physician is finally coming true, and I get the opportunity to train at the residency of my dreams. Reflecting on my last four years of medical school, it is obvious that my choice to attend Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM) set me up for this successful match.
From day one, I can remember feeling like there was something special about MU-COM. The underlying message communicated to my class during our orientation was “medical school is tough, but we are here to support you.” The administration and faculty demonstrated on numerous occasions their desire for student feedback and would subsequently make changes to the curriculum to meet our needs. The faculty have been incredibly approachable with daily office hours and even Skype office hours where students can video chat with them if unable to meet in person. As with any medical school class, the class of 2019 developed a personality all of its own. I’m proud to say that our class embraced a sense of family and “we’re all in this together” mentality. This was especially apparent to me when I received an outpouring of support and even greeting cards and flowers from my classmates after hearing the news that my brother had been in a fatal car accident during my second year. This kind of empathy and genuine care for your colleagues is something that cannot be taught in a classroom, yet MU-COM continues to foster this community of care.
So, as I prepare to cross that graduation stage in May and begin my next journey as a family medicine resident physician, I extend the following advice to the incoming cohort of young physicians in training:
- Find a medical school that supports your interests. For me, this was getting involved in student government and advocating for my peers on the national stage. MU-COM administration supported me academically and financially to attend and serve on national executive boards through the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP), where I grew as a leader and advocated for the 31,000 osteopathic medical students that COSGP represents. I found that most residency program directors were genuinely interested in hearing about what I had learned from these leadership roles.
- Keep an open mind as you navigate through the curriculum. Some of my least favorite topics during the pre-clinical years turned out to be some of my favorite clinical rotations. It’s okay to change your mind and adjust your career goals as you experience new clinical cases and clerkships.
- Don’t lose touch with the outside world. Medical school can consume you if you are not vigilant. Schedule time outside of the library to catch up with family and friends. You’ll return to your studies energized and ready to clear the next hurdle.
- Practice gratitude and humility. Chances are you didn’t get into medical school without a supportive network of friends and family. Take time to thank those that supported your dreams. Research shows that you’ll be a happier person after taking the time to express gratitude. Also realize that you can’t possibly know everything. Know that it’s perfectly okay to say, “I don’t know, but I’m willing to go look it up.”
- Finally, seek out a medical school that fosters a community of care and wellness. This is going to be your home for the next four years, and you’re going to want a place that supports your mental and physical wellness. In my humble opinion, one of the most influential staff members of MU-COM is Kaylee Hofmeister, coordinator of student activities and wellness. She was always planning wellness activities during times when students were in most need of a break, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.
If you’re reading this blog and considering a career in medicine, I wish you the best of luck. Never lose sight of your dream and your inspiration for pursuing a career in medicine. As I mentioned before, all of your life experiences, your triumphs and your failures, will shape the future physician you hope to become.