Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Fly on the Wall

There have been many moments in my life when I wish I could have captured a thought or an event that I witnessed adequately enough to convey its entirety to the witnesses of my life. Often I find that the retelling is not worth the embarrassment over the fumbling words out of my mouth. So more often than not humorous, entertaining and interesting happenings never leave the inside of my cranium.

I have often wished for the ability to retell stories. My dad can hold an entire room full of people spellbound for twenty minutes by his retelling the last two minutes of a football game and he is the only person I have seen entertain with words only 20 grandkids and their parents by telling fishing stories and other close encounters of his childhood. I discovered along with a young Benjamin Franklin when I was young that almost everyone I entered into a discussion with were more eloquent and sometimes bore me down more through fluency than by the strength of reason. When Ohio Congressman James Ashley disapproved of a story Abraham Lincoln had just told, the President responded: “Ashley, I have great confidence in you and great respect for you, and I know how sincere you are. But if I couldn’t tell these stories, I would die.” It was said of Joseph Smith that “He took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up, in plainness and simplicity, the things of God. … Did not Joseph do the same to your understandings? Would he not take the Scriptures and make them so plain and simple that everybody could understand?”

My weakness is my own to overcome and hopefully my readers will not suffer too greatly during the process. I hope to keep a journal of my life during medical school. To do so adequately would require a tale twenty-five years in the making, but I will engage the most relevant and recent points.

During my senior year of high school I auditioned for and was accepted for a full scholarship to study vocal performance with an emphasis on opera. I went on my mission with the intention to study music when I returned but gradually during the two years divorced the idea. In my experience a human mind cannot abide a void well for long and I reviewed my performance in school which was quite naturally flawless but it was the mastery of the more difficult chemistry and physics classes that I marveled most at. Anyone who breathed could have done well in sociology or ethics or communication or philosophy, most could muddle their way through beginning computer and psychology classes, but more than a half of those who started physics and chemistry dropped by the end and of those that stayed, I was among the highest ranked.

I decided to go into engineering and took the entry level course with the expectation of building structures and programming robots. To my dismay we spent our time programming by trial and error in MATLAB. Not fond of making errors this teaching method disgusted me and my short attachment to engineering was over. (Isn't it amazing how insignificant the turning points of our lives are?)

Once again to fill the void I jumped into pharmacy (not that I was attached to pharmacy any more than engineering, but I needed a plan and the prerequisites for pharmacy ensured that any real decision-making was put off for a few years.) Fortunately, during an organic chemistry class I saw an ad for a pharmacy technician course offered during the summer. I decided to try it to make sure I liked pharmacy. By now I was in a university and my flawless record came to a halt. I was a once big fish in an even bigger pond. Not that I did poorly, but even an A- hurt my GPA. In fact I missed graduating with honors by one one-hundredth of a GPA point which isn't bad considering that the thresholds for laude and cum laude and summa cum laude are calculated including the philosophy, English, family science, and music majors.

The pharmacy course required an externship for 180 hours at either a retail or hospital pharmacy. I worked at a retail pharmacy in a grocery store and performed the same functions of a pharmacist (counting pills) but without the liability (miscounting or grabbing the wrong medication). Additionally, we talked regularly to insurance companies who refused to pay out and had to explain to patients why they couldn't receive medications more often that I would have liked. No one ever asked a pharmacist for his advice and I decided that for all the three or four years that they spend learning about drugs, a pharmacist is a very underused resource among health professionals.

Disliking the idea of being underused, I ran headlong into a void again. My neuroscience major qualified me for professional school (pharmacy, medical, veterinary, dental, etc), graduate school (PhD), or a laboratory for research. I had only a little experience with research and not enough connections for graduate school so that left a professional route. By this time I had completed almost all the prerequisites for any professional program and my grades were far enough above the mean entry level for any that I decided on medical school and involved myself more in bench research, shadowing doctors, and community volunteering.

Making an already too long story shorter than it could be, I scored highly on the MCAT to ensure a place somewhere but I applied to and got rejected from any MD program I applied to. That left me with a year to fill until the next application cycle during which I considered a program in Guadalajara, Mexico, a military intelligence occupation with the army, and everything in between. I finally settled on working with my brothers cleaning and maintaining foreclosed houses which I did until I left for medical school.

No comments:

Post a Comment