I used to work as a waitress. Any time I made an error, my manager would say to me, “Look, we’re not saving lives here.” Naturally, it was the most boring and uneventful job to date. I don’t know what drew me to medicine as a child, whether it was frequent trips to the doctor for ear infections, or my mom’s constant encouragement to go the extra mile. Regardless, I couldn’t picture my future in any other profession. My odd obsession with the human body and interest in taking things apart and putting them back together was a key signal to my family that I was envisioning big things ahead. Surgery is the profession I feel is my mission to follow, and I’ve been on that path since the day I put my mind to it.
Until my sophomore year of high school, I had no idea what specialty I wanted to enter. That summer, I had been overtraining as a cross country runner, and suffered a tibial stress fracture. At that point, I met an orthopaedic surgeon in who ended up taking care of me all the way through the present. In my freshman year at college, I fractured a rib in a rowing incident, and also needed a hip reconstruction, both of which this doctor handled impeccably. Not only is he a wonderful physician, but everything about his practice is intriguing, and it seems like every time I saw him, I had more and more questions to ask. Because of this, I knew orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine would be the prime option for my area of focus, and for that reason, I chose to pursue Kinesiology starting this fall. I couldn’t be more excited to be on this track.
I have done very well in my first couple semesters at college, despite some unexpected circumstances. Mononucleosis, a major hip surgery, a broken rib, my parents’ divorce, and hypoglycemia have all caused setbacks and reevaluations regarding my academics. I’ve questioned myself nearly every day if this is the path I want to be on, if I truly want to be studying until after 30, and if I really do have the commitment and resilience to be in one of the most demanding and exhausting industries in the world.
Quite frankly, I couldn’t picture doing anything else through my twenties. Everything that has held me back throughout my time in college has only exposed new opportunities and discoveries about myself, and I’ve learned to continue persevering despite failure. For example, my career as a collegiate rower was interrupted by my hip reconstruction this summer, but it gave me the opportunity to continue to be a leader on the team as a walk-on’s volunteer coach. I can still commit my time to the team while I am recovering, and help my teammates improve every day I am with them. I plan to rehab myself, and by December, I should be getting back to rowing stronger than before. This situation has made me realize that I do have determination during adversity, and regardless of my setback as an athlete, I wake up every morning not only motivated to improve, but ready to motivate others to be the best they can be.
Also regarding my injury, had I been a capable rower this semester, I would have been on the water with the varsity women this past Thursday, and would have missed a presentation by the head admissions director of Harvard Medical College, and Senior Physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Through communication following the seminar, I now plan on shadowing him in Boston this summer. I am heartbroken that I can’t be training with my team, but through this I have discovered that there are so many more opportunities, this incredible one in particular, around the corner when you continue to dedicate your time to success.
This year, I’ve realized how much grit it will take to reach med school, and that truly only the strongest students will make it. I plan to continue prioritizing academics, as well as account for time that can be lost by unexpected situations. Two years from now, I see myself starting my senior year at college. Ideally, by this time of year, I have done well on the MCAT, applied to medical school, and am awaiting interview offers. I plan to have not lost any stamina by this point, as senior year is just as important as any other.
Five years from now, I will be 24, and I expect to be in my third year of med school, starting first year of clinical rotations. Statistically, most students have not even entered medical college until this age, and I do understand that there are other options, as well as other situations that could occur that would cause me to take time off between undergrad and med school. However, at this point, I do see it in the blueprint to enter medical school upon graduation. My dream school of study is Washington University in St. Louis, but I am also considering schools in California, Colorado, and Boston. I do not intend to stay in Pennsylvania for medical school.
Ten years from now, I’ll be pushing 30, and as I see it, in my last year of surgical residency. I have naturally avoided thinking this far ahead, as it requires a great deal of success before this point even becomes an option. I would love to be studying orthopaedic surgery in Boston, but then again, absolutely anywhere I could be studying medicine at this level would be an honor. I have considered the personal effects of receiving a demanding education for this long, and then entering a very stressful field at this age. First of all, how well can I handle death? More specifically, on my watch? How much stress can I truly tolerate? Can I focus and make rational decisions in my 48th hour without sleep? When do I have time for loved ones? Can I have a happy marriage? Can I raise a family? Will I even have time for a dog? What about time for my other passions- running, rowing, horseback riding? When does my own health come before a patient’s? What will my life look like when my career is dedicated to putting everyone I meet before myself?
I have considered other less stressful, less time-consuming options in healthcare. I couldn’t picture myself in any of them. I thrive in stress. I love being the leader, I love being liable. I’m great at thinking on the spot and have a calm demeanor, even in stressful situations. I work great on a team, and am an excellent communicator. I do some of my best performing on the clock and under pressure. In the future, I see myself in no other position than responsible for saving and improving people’s lives- and I have put my faith in the Department of Kinesiology to help me get there.