Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why Medicine?

(This post is a preamble to one that will follow in the next few days.)

I have tried to recall the thought processes that led me to decide I wanted to be a doctor and could only come up with a rather embarrassing few. I was an 18 year old freshman at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science when, at some point late in the spring semester I remember deciding I would rather be writing prescriptions than filling them. And, acting in a manner that would come to be rather common place for me, I very quickly notified the proper people of my decision (my parents, the Dean of the college, and my best friends, Carmen and Dezi). The following fall I was a pre-med major at Lebanon Valley College.

And that’s it! No dreams about serving others or saving lives, no aspirations to be on the forefront of the medical frontier, either in research or teaching. In fact I cannot remember ever having any concrete ideas about what my life's work would entail. All I knew was that I was going to be a physician...that it was the right thing for me to do, and that was all I needed to know at that time.

Why did I do that? How did I know it was right for me? What information did I sift through, consciously or unconsciously to arrive at that decision? When I think about it now I am amazed. At that time in my life I was completely unaware of what might be considered my aptitude, gifts, or of anything remotely resembling an inner life, drives, needs, etc. And yet the choice to practice medicine was to tap into what I would later recognize as one of the major defining characteristics of my life, caring about others and wanting to be a positive presence in their lives.

Was there more...has time blunted my memory of the events of that defining time? If so, maybe in my terminal years, when we somehow find old memories, in place of the short term ones, I’ll have the answer.

Note: At no time did art, in any way, shape, or form, enter my mind as a career choice.

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