Tell it To Me Straight, Doc

October 22, 2007
By
“The happiness I feel at this moment is indescribable. It is difficult to explain the joy I feel standing in front of so many young people interested in becoming doctors. I owe my life to my doctors. Because of their help I stand here today, five years strong with AIDS.”

Marcus was just one of many speakers who came to the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in Chicago that I had the pleasure of listening to as part of a summer program. I came to this program hoping it would help me decide between medicine and another profession. I began wondering whether or not such a sensitive person as myself could handle the hardships and sad realities of this occupation. While I walked into this program unsure of what profession I should pursue academically, I left confident in a decision to study medicine after listening to Marcus.
The forum had many interesting speakers who talked about a wide range of topics, but none of them held a candle to Marcus. Tall, rail thin, and feebly dressed in an old suit, Marcus did not give the impression of a dynamic speaker. However, I quickly found I had misjudged Marcus completely. Though he talked very quietly and with apprehension, his story was intriguing and unique. His words were not like any other I had heard, and his life chronicle sent chills throughout the room.
Marcus, a homosexual, high school drop-out, war veteran, who has been fighting HIV since he was twenty-five years old, has undoubtedly faced his share of life challenges. Physically weak from battling a disease that was slowly tearing apart his immune system, Marcus spoke with surprising strength and the epitome of sincerity. His words were not eloquently put together like the previous speakers, but they were real and inspiring. While Marcus recalled his latest hospital visit due to a low T-cell count, I wanted nothing more than to be the doctor at his side.
When Marcus came to a close on his speech, I too found closure. I didn’t want to be a doctor; I needed to be a doctor. As a person considering medicine as a profession, it seems almost comical that I cannot put a diagnosis to my aspiration to help others. The feeling is like a heavy weight on my heart that can only be lifted if I try to make a difference in someone’s life.

While this summer program provided me with numerous memorable experiences that also helped to influence my decision, what I took away most from the program was the emotional satisfaction of being a doctor. Finding hope for patients who have lost optimism would provide me with the utmost fulfillment. I’ve always been the person who went the extra mile for a friend, so I feel my personality strengths are traits of a good doctor. For now, the pressures of being a doctor seem minimal, and my sensitivity for others will undoubtedly help, not hinder my ability to care for patients.





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