One of the most important distinctions in my life occurred to me during my senior year of high school, and that was the difference between experiencing passion for something and simply living through a phase. Long story short, this realization helped me find my niche as a student and could be the means for finding what intrigues you.

Very early on, I was given the opportunity to shadow a physician that was very knowledgeable in his field. Granted, I ‘cold-called’ various hospitals around the state and physicians within them in attempt to find someone who would welcome me. Luckily, I did. For the first couple of months, however, the shadowing was not all that intensive. It was not until my first two years of undergrad that I shadowed every chance I had. After witnessing epidural injections, facet blocks, and radio frequency ablations being done on patients with chronic back pain, I was eager to learn more. It was almost as if I was star-struck after seeing these procedures done, but that simply wasn’t enough for me. After each patient interaction, we would head back to the office to talk over the procedure. Being explained the risks of nicking the dura or spinal cord while performing epidural injections and the importance of stabilizing the needle in only the epidural space are some examples of how my interest levels peaked.

. I was fascinated by the pressure of following trained protocol in highly stressful situations so that all risk is avoided, or that simply numbing a nerve and effectively disrupting the path of pain signals through heat transfer from radio frequency waves was the way in which a patient can finally walk again while experiencing no pain, like you or I would. The craft, and the amount of detail that was demanded of that craft was what dilated my pupils and had my heart racing. Plus, seeing the smile on patients’ faces when walking out of their procedure was, well, amazing.

The things mentioned above are what lead me to working in the dead of night in attempt to decipher the human body and all of its potential. I started to view the body as a process, not a finished product. After being immersed in a hospital setting and transitioning that experience to my rigorous studying from textbooks, I was training myself to sort concepts together. While studying for my MCAT, I was introduced to deciphering the various hormones that would be released in an applicable situation where homeostasis was compromised. I finally understood the physiological effects of diabetes, how blood pressure can be maintained at ideal values, and how HIV is contracted at the cellular level. Some of the things that I thought I would be learning in medical school are now being applied early on in my educational career. All of these things fuel my vision of becoming a physician.

Enough about me, what motivates you? Where/who did you shadow, and depending on that place or person, what did you see that intrigued you? Did a patient – physician interaction make you want to ask questions regarding diagnosis or treatment? Did the daily life of the physician you shadowed complement your ideal life as a physician? If so,

Keep in mind, this is not limited to shadowing. Part of being a physician is to process events and images one step ahead of when they’re presented. So, plan your future. Aim for a certain MCAT score or your ideal medical school/residency. Surround yourself with positivity so that you’re in good spirits. Take pride in what you’re learning because that’s one of the many effective ways to push you through days that seem a little harder to get through than others. You may have all the potential in the world, and I’m sure you do, but applying that potential is the key to being where you want to be in the next couple of years. Having all the potential you do and not applying it would be synonymous to a car being stripped of its wheels while the engine is running. Don’t do that yourself! I understand it’s cliché, but your path is a clear result of your work ethic and drive. Remember, ease is the greatest threat to progress! Study hard and stay focused on the bigger picture.

“Without commitment, you’ll never start. But more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish.”