13 December 2009

Orientation Day: A Matriculation Address from a fellow Resident

Life is a Residency. And I can say that because I have been a Resident - a “physician-in-training” - for almost 18 months now. Being a young physician-in-training brings with it many things. I’ve delivered babies. I’ve discussed a terminal prognosis. I’ve performed chest compressions, intubated a live person, and declared a person dead. I’ve drained abscesses and sewed up stab wounds. I’ve cared for patients in the hospital, in the clinic, and in the nursing home – all in one day. Being a physician-in-training allows you to gain experience, through practice and challenges, sometimes in the face of fatigue. But most of all, you gain perspective.

I’ve been studying to become a physician essentially since I was 15 years-old. Since that point, most the decisions I made in regards to education and employment were executed with this end goal in mind. I realized early on, though, that I would go completely crazy if I didn’t enjoy the process. Thus, my undergraduate minor changed from Chemistry to Political Science. I became drawn to health care policy, public health, and organized medicine. I backpacked solo in Fiji, and across Western Europe. I worked in a clinic in Kenya and reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest point in Africa. The extreme need for simple medical and public health infrastructure in the developing world struck me, and pushed me to co-found Allgemeine International in an attempt to deliver health care without exception. It’s amazing - even on the most miserable night on call here in the U.S., I have clean water to drink.

This diverse set of experiences, paired with the gratitude to God for an overwhelmingly overflowing cup, leave me waking up each day thinking “lightning [really] could strike.”

And I’m still learning.

Life is a Residency, full of “teaching cases” at every turn. Life’s Residency will keep you busy – there are patients to be seen, lectures to attend, skills to master, and people to serve. Life’s Residency will require you to be prepared – come equipped with your healthy optimism, informed realism, and a humble servant’s heart. You will make mistakes, you will be wrong, and you might just let your opponent win – and from these rarities, you will learn. Finally, surviving Life’s Residency can be trying, but so far has been possible through the love of my family who has taught me the value of balance, and friends who make that one day off each week a true celebration.

Welcome to Life's Residency: Where the worlds of health policy, travel, politics, global health, and romance converge, and the education is constant. Life is a Residency. Become a life-long Citizen-in-Training. Who knows, you may learn a little something...

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