Standing before the graduates, I was reminded of how I came to know that health care was my calling. My journey began when I left my hometown of Brooklyn, New York at 16 years old to pursue an engineering degree at RPI. I soon realized, though, that health care was a field that would connect me more closely with the people in my community. I considered family medicine and nephrology, but I ultimately selected cardiology as my specialty.
While poring over medical textbooks and learning to treat patients, I learned the most important lesson of all: Life is not about me.
Throughout your education, you are focused on studying and striving for the ultimate goal – graduation. While your life after graduation will definitely have some me-centric goals – paying your bills, getting a job, and starting a family – when you select a career in health care, you are making the choice to put patients first.
Dr. Francis Peabody, who practiced medicine in the early 1900s, once said, “The secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”
Embarking on a career in medicine is a blessing, but it comes with tremendous responsibility. While each student has earned his or her diploma, he or she will continue to earn the patients’ gratitude every day.
This is an incredible time to be entering the health care field. More than ever before, you have more tools, opportunities and advantages for being a healer and putting the patient first. The ever-changing world of science and technology is exciting and it’s having a tremendous impact on the practice of medicine. In 30 years, today’s medicine will be obsolete – it’s a physician’s responsibility to continue to grow and learn.
Whether you are a recent graduate, currently in the health care field, or something altogether different, your future success depends on forgetting about yourself. If you consider your obligations to your family, friends, employer and community at large as being of the utmost importance, you will make a difference.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kris Qua for The Sage Colleges