A Day in the Life
How did you become interested in the field of health care?
After college, I got a job as a medical records technician at a radiology clinic to pay the bills. I processed paperwork and insurance forms. I worked my way up to a medical and health services manager position where I managed other staff and worked with patients.
Was there a time during your job that was particularly challenging?
I remember one patient in particular. He had lung cancer and would come in to the clinic with his wife. After a few months of watching him come in for tests, I saw how hard the long wait was for him. One day I pulled him and his wife aside and said, “Call and ask for me before you come in next time.” We arranged that I would let them in through the backdoor so that he could avoid the wait. A few months later, his wife came to the clinic alone. “My husband died,” she said, “but I wanted to thank you. Your kindness meant that I got to spend more time with my husband before he passed away.”
One day, one of the physicians in the clinic gave me one of her old medical textbooks. “You will be a wonderful doctor,” she said, “but you need to thicken up your skin so you can protect your good heart.”
I took her advice and after years of trying to make up my mind, I finally applied to medical school. I’m glad I waited as long as I did because it gave me experience and helped me see that becoming a physician was really the right path for me.
What is most challenging about medical school?
The physician who gave me her old textbook was right about needing to have a thick skin. Medical school is like being a teenager with your parents criticizing you all the time. There is constant feedback from your teachers and classmates, so you have to be confident and okay with learning from what other people say about your work. But it helps me learn and I know the hard work will pay off.
Being at medical school also helped me figure out why it seems like some people are naturally smarter and savvier: They have people to show them! I’ve learned that it’s important to remember you are not alone and can always look to others to mentor and help you.
What’s your best advice for anyone considering working in health care?
If you feel a pull to health care, investigate it. There is no substitute for getting real-life experience. And, if you aren’t sure, going into another job first is perfectly fine. Take it from me that sometimes the best path isn’t always a straight one.