DriveA friend from high school stopped by to chat and see the new house. He had just come back from a month in Honduras, and had a totally new outlook on his future. In his words, "It's hard to see that much poverty, and not be affected."
And I have to say, I'm proud of him. He had a few years where he couldn't quite find his place in the world, but now he has a mission. He's registered for a few science classes, to get the prereqs he needs to matriculate into a local nursing program. Eventually, he wants to finish up his four year degree, and become a nurse practitioner, and even wants go to medical school. A masters in public health would not be out of the question. Eventually, he wants to open a clinic in a rural area, and maybe even work in a clinic in latin america.
He just gets it. He has a drive, a passion, to really make a difference. I hope that he can sustain that drive. Though I know that in whatever he ends up doing, whether it is becoming a nurse, a doctor, or whatever else, he will change the world around him. I hope that if he does go to medical school, that this drive isn't beaten out of him. I know that many of my classmates have great expectations of how they will contribute to the world, but these expectations tend to get lost in the biochemical pathways that we beat into our brains. And I know that I can only hope that when I get out of school, all my pre-school idealism will return, but it is hard when looking forward means looking towards the next block of exams, rather than looking to the years after school and residency. Then, there are questions of debt, of politics, and of lifestyle. After years of working and studying for 100 hours a week, how attractive does being an overworked family doctor in Appalachia, look compared to becoming a dermatologist?
But I must say, my friend has inspired me. I needed a boost of idealism and hope. I needed to talk to someone who wasn't already involved and frustrated with the world of medical education and the uncertainty of the future. He has a plan. And I know, even if he never makes it to medical school, he will find a niche where he is happy. He doesn't have the resources or background to achieve his dreams right away, but I wouldn't be surprised if he enters medical school at 40, ready to take on the world. And I will continue to be inspired by him, and proud.