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As I sit under this huge white tent with hundreds of people
around me and anxiously wait to be called up to receive my white
coat, I look back at all of the hard work and effort it took to
reach this spot.
I remember my anticipation when I started college a few years
ago; I wondered what lay ahead. As I began the long journey to
becoming a physician, I wondered, "Will I make it? Will I survive
the rigors of learning chemistry, biology, organic chemistry—all
difficult subjects—while I maintain a competitive grade point
I sat down with my advisors to choose my courses for the
semester and map out my courses for the next few years. The first
semester flew by, as did the next several years. Meanwhile, I began
volunteering, shadowing physicians and gaining as much exposure as
possible to the field of medicine. If this was going to be my
career path, then I wanted to make sure that it was something about
which I was most passionate. Every experience that I had helping
people, observing physicians, and performing research made me more
and more passionate about becoming a Doctor of Medicine.
Before I knew it, the next daunting hurdle came: the Medical
College Admission Test. I sat down and prepared for a few weeks and
reviewed all of the relevant material in order to do well. I took
the test, and then the next step began: applying to medical school
while anxiously waiting the 30 days for the results.
I spent hours filling out applications and writing personal
statements. After I tweaked and revamped the contents of my
application seemingly hundreds of times, I finally submitted it.
After I was validated by the American Medical College Application
Service, I received a slew of e-mails from prospective schools
instructing me to fill out secondary applications with more
personal statements and information. After I completed these
applications, the next stage began: waiting and hoping for an
After getting an interview, I waited longer to see whether I was
accepted. Day by day, I checked my e-mail hoping to find an
acceptance letter. When it finally came, I couldn't believe it. My
family and friends, who had been so supportive throughout this
process, congratulated me on my success and reaffirmed that I would
make a great physician.
The euphoria of acceptance quickly changed into fear and panic
as I realized how much I must do to prepare for medical school. As
orientation day neared, though, my excitement resumed. It was time
to meet my new colleagues-the people with whom I would be spending
the next four years of my life.
Again, my fears from college crept back into my mind: Would I
make it? Would I be able to survive the rigors of learning anatomy
and histology in only three months? If I wasn't at the top of the
class, would I still be a competent physician?
Orientation week came and went, and, before I knew it, I was
sitting in the lecture hall listening to an anatomy lecture. All of
a sudden, a realization sunk in and I thought to myself, "I'm
actually in medical school. I made it. I will soon be a
The anatomy laboratory began, and I was introduced to my first
"patient-cadaver." This cadaver would probably be the one person
from whom I would learn the most during my time in medical school.
I made the first incision with care and caution, as if I was
worried about injuring the cadaver.
Little by little, I went deeper and deeper inside the human
body. I thought to myself, "This is the human body-the most amazing
and intricate 'machine'-and I have the privilege to learn as much
as I can in order to help when things go awry."
So, as I sit here in this white tent, with rain pouring down and
drowning out the voice of the speaker as he recites the Hippocratic
Oath, I smile to myself and appreciate all of the accomplishments
and sacrifices that I made to get where I am today. But now I am
faced with new questions: What does this white coat represent? What
kind of responsibilities do I now possess?
This white coat is my rite of passage. People will now respect
what I say, so I have a responsibility to make sure that what I
tell them is correct. I have a responsibility to help any person no
matter what his or her ethnic group, race, or belief. I have a
responsibility to be honest, sincere, professional, and
compassionate. I have a responsibility to learn as much as I can in
order to be the most competent physician that I can be.
We each have our journey, our excitements, our pitfalls, our
ups, and our downs. Whichever path that we each took to get here
was the right one. The next time that we don our white coats, we
should take a moment to reflect on the hard work that brought us
here. We should not only realize that the road ahead will have the
same bumps and depressions as the road that brought us here but
also have faith in our abilities to overcome those hardships. We
made it this far, and we each will continue to pave our paths in
the road that we call life.
June 2012 Issue of IMpact
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