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Meet the medical students we have featured thus far. You could be next!
Laura Henry, UPenn
"I was a late comer to the medical field. I majored in Political Economy at Williams College and went to New York City after graduation to begin a career in finance. Fueled by a need for purpose, I started volunteering an hour per week at the Hospital for Special Surgery. After a few months of uncertainty on how to proceed, I took a leap of faith. I left my job in finance, started volunteering for full mornings at HSS, helping out in a homeless shelter’s medical clinic in the afternoons, and babysitting at night to pay the rent. The following year I completed a pre-med post-bac and am now I'm a third-year med student at Penn. I haven’t looked back once."
Abbey Brindley, Semmelweis University
"I am a big knitter/crocheter - it’s such a stress relief during med school! But, to answer your question, I decided to join medical school and become a doctor because I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else. This career will be challenging, hands on, teamwork-oriented, but most of all, ultimately satisfying since I get the chance to combine my medical knowledge and critical thinking to treat patients. It is an honor to be taught by such inspirational doctors. I can only aspire to be as hard-working and ambitious as they are. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to study medicine and feel as if I will never have to work a day in my life!"
Gina Aeckersberg, Goethe University
"I think one of the most valuable things we learn in medical school is the importance of teamwork. During my last year in med school, a family from Afghanistan came to the hospital with their sick child. The parents only spoke Farsi and we had no idea what was wrong with their daughter. Luckily, one of the guys that worked in patient transport spoke Farsi and he agreed to help us out. We ended up admitting the child and from that day on he would round with us every day until the family left the hospital. This experience really taught me how incredibly important it is to have a great team that goes above and beyond for their patients."
Dan Pelzman, University of Pittsburgh
"We are usually told that the most competitive specialties are dermatology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery, radiation oncology, urology, and vascular surgery. Often, the competitiveness is due to a combination of perceived specialty prestige, post-residency lifestyle, and the small size of programs. Matching into any prestigious program can be extremely competitive, so specialty is not the sole determinant of a program’s competitiveness.”
Negin Karimian, Charité
"Since I was a child, I have always dreamt of being a singer. Then, my mother got breast cancer when I was 12-years-old and I decided that I wanted to fight diseases because they seem so unfair. Thankfully, my Mom got better, but it made me realize how precious life is, which led me to studying medicine. Having experienced nearly losing someone I love, I want to help others going through the same thing. I want to show them that anything is possible and you have to keep fighting the disease! And no worries - I still sing!"
Mutasim Battah, Jordan University
"The small efforts make the biggest difference! Despite the moments when I thought I couldn't do it, I remind myself that these difficult days are worth it. I once met a family in the hospital. I was the only one who spoke their language. I visited them every day, fostering a relationship with them. The relief they had when they could communicate all their concerns to someone who understood, and the joy the father conveyed when he knew his daughter would get better made me realize the huge responsibility I have."
Naren Nallapeta, University of Buffalo
"Residency in the U.S. is very different compared to India. There are pros and cons for both, from patient population to healthcare systems: 1. Medical education in India involves more rote memory than practical learning. In the U.S., there are less theory-based examinations and more practical and application-based testing, overall; 2. India has a diverse disease burden when compared to the U.S.; 3. The U.S. has a very litigate type of practice; and 4. The demographics of both countries are completely different."
Abby Goron, University of Maryland
"There are ways that I stay motivated and keep things in perspective. One, I just remind myself that it is such a privilege and an honor to have the opportunity to study medicine, something that really fascinates me. Many would kill for this education, so I always need to express gratitude. Two, I remind myself why I'm doing this, which I've come to appreciate, not so much for myself, but for my future patients. I've learned it is much more important to treat a patient and not a disease - to go above and beyond!"
Evan Kuhl, George Washington University
"When I was 18, I became an EMT and started working part-time. After my very first experience in an emergency department, I knew I wanted to become an ER doctor. The hum of people and activity always felt like a second home. Anytime I needed inspiration, I would spend a shift in the ER, and it would remind me what I was working towards."
Armaan Rowther, Johns Hopkins
"The most difficult aspect of training to become a physician is not relinquishing your humility along the way. Education is defined as much by what we learn to forget as by what we learn to remember. In med school, while memorizing dizzying amounts of information, we too often unwittingly learn to forget our limits - not only our own knowledge and abilities, but also the limits of our own importance. This is evident every time we think ourselves too busy and our time too precious to speak with our patients rather than at them."
Janicca Jänz, Medical University Berlin
"When I was 27, after having obtained a degree in management and working full-time for three years, I couldn't picture myself doing an office job for the rest of my life. As medicine had always interested me, and I wanted to make a difference, I thought, 'this is your chance - it's now or never!' So, I quit my job and enrolled at Medical School Berlin. The first semester was pretty rough. But now I am in my 3rd year and everything is going well. I think taking that big leap of faith was the best decision I could have ever made!"
Michael McClurkin, Harvard University
"Growing up, we were quite poor, but I didn't know any better. My Mother always stressed the importance of a good education. As a teenager, I started to realize that poverty through stress and lack of resources can have a negative impact on health, and I wanted to make sure that those who are in poverty had a voice in healthcare. I committed to studying medicine and by the end of university, I realized that public and private forces exert a large influence on the well-being of the society I aim to serve."
Michelle Lundholm, Northwestern University
"My sister was my first patient. Each time she scraped her knee I would make gauze pads out of soggy Kleenex and bandage her up. Fast-forwarding to college, I discovered I was passionate for teaching science. While volunteering at a local hospital, I realized that what I was really looking for was a doctor-patient relationship. In that unique interaction, we have the opportunity to empower our patients by educating them about something as valuable as their health. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?"
Amna Iftikhar, CUNY School of Medicine
"I reflect upon why I wanted to study medicine in the first place. I picture myself seeing patients and being the doctor that they trust their lives with. This is the biggest motivation because I realize that although what I am learning now is going to show up on the boards, it is also going to show up in how I treat my patients. I remember it is vital for me to get a good understanding of the material if I am going to help heal patients and be the best doctor I can be."
Sereen Hussain, Shaheed Suhrawardy
"I was fascinated by the life of a doctor from a very early age. Fast-forward to medical school, and the thing that most attracts me now is the ability to communicate with patients. As a med student, we get the unique opportunity to talk with patients, listen to the history of their diseases, and sometimes explain their illness to them. The way they look at us, that smile of gratitude, is priceless."
Hassan Bouguila, Medical School of Tunis
"Humanity is experiencing a huge leap in its evolutionary history in all fields. I chose to become a physician because I wanted to be a part of this innovation. We are already able to manipulate genes and make programmed cells - the flow of progress is growing exponentially and that, to me, is utterly amazing! No one knows what the future holds! So, in addition to solving patient problems everyday, it's a passion of mine to make progress in the medical field."
Andrea Tenorio, Universitat de Girona
"High school was a really low point for me. My grades dropped, I was barely passing my classes, I had no friends and my teachers weren't helpful, so I gave up on my dream of studying medicine. But then, I changed schools and I met this amazing lab teacher who talked to me, motivated me and made me realize that I had potential; that I shouldn’t give up my dream; that I could turn things around. She rekindled the spark. Because of her, I think that every student is just one caring teacher away from being a success story."
Piroz Hajou, University of Medicine and Pharmacy
"This one memory really stuck with me. I visited Syria one summer and there was a little Arabic girl, around my same age at the time, who had dirty clothes and was rugged in appearance. She sat on a staircase just watching the other children play. I don't know if she was orphaned or if her parents were very poor, but she looked very sad. I couldn't communicate with Arabic children since I could only speak Kurdish. Therefore, I couldn't really talk to her. Instead, I went to my Mom and asked her for some bread to give to the girl. When the little girl saw me return, she was really happy for that small gesture of kindness. Something kind of broke inside of me after that encounter. After my experience that summer, I decided to do something about the economic disparity so prevalent in our society. One of those ways was to become a doctor. My continuous learning and expanded knowledge could be helpful, I hope."
Sothearith Heng, , University of Health Sciences
"Since I was a child I wanted to help others - to put a smile on the face of my patients, especially since a hospital can be a scary place for many. I specifically wanted to become a physician in Cambodia to help enhance the health sector, especially in rural areas with limited treatment options. This way, I will be able to treat my family and relatives through my clinical skills. During my first year of medical school, I encountered many problems. My university taught classes in three languages (French, English and Khmer). At first, it was extremely difficult to understand the lessons and follow along. It made my work that much harder, but through hard work and determination, each day I seemed to improved. At the time, I thought this was a major dilemma, but now I see it as a gift. I am now able to understand all material both verbally and written and communicate fluently with a diverse patient population."
André Colindres, Hospital Mario Catarino Rivas
"During my senior year of high school, I was struggling to choose a career due to the fact that many things piqued my interest. I wanted to do it all - chemistry, biology, law, physics, and many other things. In my final year of high school, during one of my biology classes, the topic was on the human body. I simply fell in love with how well orchestrated our body is. This experience motivated me to learn more about our bodies and how they function. At some point, I realized that the career of medicine included every topic that I was interested in . Therefore, I decided to take a shot at studying medicine, and began preparing for two grueling exams. It was very competitive, but I got in! My goal is to help my country's broken healthcare system and reassure my patients that they can rely on the doctors to take care of them in the best way possible."
Anam Ali Zafar, Poonch Medical College
"I can't recall what exactly made me attracted to the medical profession, but I have wanted to become a doctor for as long as I can remember. It was as if I couldn't imagine my future self in any other profession. My inspiration throughout this journey has been the 'doctor-patient' relationship - the prospect of being kind. I want to be a caring and loving healthcare professional for which humility is always the top priority."
Salim Hassan, Fujian Medical University
"There are two memories that really stick out. Firstly, during the last few years of my paternal grandfather's life, my father and his doctor friend would travel to the town where he lived to care for him. Every day, early in the morning, and then again, in the late afternoon, they would make the trip to take care of my grandfather's medical needs. This dedication really set the tone for me in my early years. When I grew older, my maternal grandfather fell ill. He spent the last few years of his life in and out of the hospital. Unfortunately, the doctors couldn't find a specific illness that caused him so much pain. From then on, I had my mind set on studying medicine. I know I won't be able to save everyone, but I feel if I work hard and become a good doctor, I can give back to my community."
Emma Cronk, Ross University School of Medicine
"Being an NCAA Division I athlete throughout college, I knew that I was fascinated with how our bodies worked and always wanted to know more. My team physician for our basketball team had the most interesting job and got to observe various athletes, and tend to many injuries. It wasn't until I volunteered in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam at an orthopedic hospital for four weeks, where it really solidified my decision to enter medical school. The complexity of the human body paired with patient interactions and aiding in their care is something that I could always see myself doing, so I took the jump and applied, and I am extremely happy with my decision."
Eseigboria Ikheloa, University of Maryland School of Medicine
"My name is Eseigboria Ikheloa but everyone calls me Ese (pronounced like essay). I knew from a very early age that I wanted to study medicine. My mother is a nurse and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up but she wanted me to find my own way. Growing up, I went to a practice of female pediatricians that I grew very fond of. I immediately wanted to become a pediatrician, so much so that I was unaware that a pediatrician was a doctor. I loved that my pediatrician took so much time to talk to me about school, my friends, safety, how I was feeling. Around high school/college, I gained exposure to medically underserved communities and my heart broke. I knew that this was the population I wanted to work with and felt an obligation as a minority- a first generation African-American female to try and do better for those who looked like me but also those who have never seen an African-American doctor let alone an African-American female doctor. Every day I press on with the motivation that I can make a huge difference in every life I interact with, whether it be a listening ear-what pushed me to embark on this journey or a life-saving CPR maneuver some day down the line."
Dan, First Year Medical Student, USA
"When I was a senior in high school, I joined my town's first aid squad and realized how much I value helping patients dealing with medical emergencies. I became an EMT and learned the basics of healthcare, and decided to further pursue a career in medicine. Now that I am in medical school, I am fortunate to be able to study what I enjoy day in and day out. One day I hope to use that knowledge to improve the lives of those who need care. I love sharing my journey and giving advice to students who want to pursue medicine, and I am excited for what the future holds!"
Julian Flores, UNC School of Medicine
"My passion for Emergency Medicine stemmed from my experience in medical school. Working through the pathophysiology or the diagnostic approach of each patient case was what always left me excited, especially ones in their most acute presentation. By the end of these rotations, I was left with the desire to pursue a field that would holistically expose me to diverse pathologies, personalities and stories. Every shift during my fourth-year Emergency Medicine electives truly forced me to not only think and work efficiently, but to also consider a patient’s social and health constructs into whatever therapeutic plan I would be discharging him or her with."
Bruno Sauter, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
"My motivation to study medicine developed early, while dealing with some very difficult family hardships. This, coupled with my experience as a medical assistant, played a major role in my decision to study medicine. I‘ve always been curious about what causes people to live happily and healthily versus those that fall ill. As a medical assistant, I was exposed to patients living through various degrees of pain, misery and severe physical conditions. Exposure to this made me ask, 'What can I do to help?' I hope to find an answer to my question and come up with valuable solutions to help my patients live a happy and healthy life. P.S. – thanks for the shirt, @amboss_med!"
Daria, 2nd Year Medical Student, Germany
"My motivation is a bit unusual. I suffer from an autoimmune disease. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to gain a better understanding of my own illness. What interested me most was how the human body functioned and how it could be fixed if it were to break down, like mine. I knew the only way I could quench my thirst for clinical knowledge was to start medical school. I guess I can't say that I'm studying medicine to help others, although it's certainly a positive side effect. The decision to study medicine was solely based on helping myself and my condition. Even though I still don't have a clue as to what specialty I will choose, I know the field of medicine is exactly where I belong. I can now say that I am on my way to fulfilling my dream!"
Kosmas, Julius-Maximilians-Universität - Germany
"I could never imagine sitting in an office in front of a computer screen all day. After having studied industrial business at Mercedes-Benz (Daimler AG) for one semester, I quickly realized that office work would never satisfy me. Although becoming a doctor requires many years of sacrifice, it's definitely worth it! There are many advantages to studying medicine. On one hand, you're able to help patients in dire straits. On the other hand, your future is secured. Through every experience, you live and learn."
Tim Baerg, University of Michigan
"Medical school can sometimes feel like a cage. Whether it involves memorizing the coagulation cascade, gossiping about who made out with whom last weekend, or attempting not to look like a gunner while you are frivolously reading through First Aid, the culture of medical school is often demanding, and sometimes unforgiving. It’s so easy to get caught up in the medical bubble that sometimes, you forget that you're still a person with passions, creativity, and charm. While some of your classmates might get their satisfaction and joy from medicine, most people, like me, view their medical career as exactly that: a career. Surely, a career that is rewarding; a career that offers numerous privileges and joys, but nonetheless, my job as a doctor does not entirely define my identity."
Clare Brady, St. Louis University School of Medicine
"A big part of my undergraduate experience was recovering from anorexia nervosa. I worked with a therapist, doctor, and nutritionist, and a crucial aspect was learning about human physiology. I had no idea that my eating disorder could have a negative impact on my bones, my hormones, my GI system and my brain function. Health became fascinating to me—I found myself researching, reading and writing about health during nearly all of my free time. I also enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and became a certified health coach as a way to explore my interests while still working full-time. Now, as a rising fourth year at SLU, it’s hard to imagine my life before medicine. Sometimes it’s hard to see other people my age achieve their career milestones, buy homes, and settle down. It’s easy to question myself during the long, tedious study sessions and fun events I have to miss out on. But no matter what, I know I’m right where I should be. "
Get involved! Our campaign, #anatomyofamedstudent, features medical students like you on the AMBOSS Instagram platform. The objective is to provide a space for medical students to voice their opinion on the many issues facing medical education. If you would like to participate, please contact Kristy at Kristy@amboss.com.