Which people and/or events influenced your decision to work in this field?
I don’t know if there were specific people or events that were responsible for my decision to enter medicine. It was more an accumulation of experience - primarily as an ocean lifeguard and EMT - and a distillation of several intellectual areas of interest, including biological sciences, human behavior, and psychology. Ultimately, medicine combines the two things I love most: people and biology. As a physician, I have the opportunity to interact with and help people while applying biology, the universal language that binds us. While in school, I realized that if I truly committed myself to one goal, nothing could stop me. Eventually, I came to terms with my personality and what my essential image of a doctor was; I understood and embraced my need for novelty and the process of discovery. My specialization, emergency medicine, suits my personality and desire for clinical novelty and complex problem-solving. I believe that doctors should be able to manage any situation, drawing on their knowledge and experience to help their fellow human beings manage suffering and uncertainty.
What was the answer you gave people as a child when asked what you want to be when you grow up?
Believe it or not, I don’t remember. I had many interests and was very social, and consequently didn’t focus on what I wanted in the future. I do, however, remember that my kindergarten teacher proclaimed at graduation that I would be a politician. I’m still not sure whether that was a compliment or an insult.
What advice would you give yourself 3 years ago? 3 years from now?
I would tell my younger self to be comfortable where you are in life’s journey; humility and a willingness to learn from mistakes will make you a more complete person in the long run than will the need to get everything right the first time. I would tell my older self to remember that the people with whom you interact may be at a different point in their journey than you are. You should therefore treat them with the patience and kindness that would have meant so much to you earlier in your own career.