My brother-in-law, AKA my favoritest future doctor!
I viewed my graduation from the UCLA School of Law ten years ago as a serious and somber occasion, carrying myself with appropriate gravitas.
My brother-in-law was also careful to present his most genteel side.
As I chuckled at these pictures a couple of weeks ago, I wondered when I’d have the chance to switch places with Nick. You see, he’s been waiting to get in to medical school, and–even understanding how few applicants are accepted–I was certain he would be.
And now, he is. I’m excited for him and a little excited for me.
But why for me?
Some months ago, he had me read one of his “safety school” med school application essays. (He had me read many, actually, but this one stood out.) He called it a tear-jerker, but I ignored his assessment, right before weeping all over the place. I provided both constructive and emotional feedback as well as asking him a favor, to which he agreed. If he got in to his first choice school, I could publish this particularly moving essay here.
He’s in at his first choice school. So here, now, I present to you a snapshot-in-words of why I hold my brother-in-law so dear, and why I think he’s going to be one incredible doctor.
Why do you wish to attend [this school]?
I wish to attend [this school] because of its strong emphasis on training compassionate physicians and its special focus on medically underserved groups. As unfortunate as it is, I know very well that background, ethnicity, socioeconomics, and mental health factor heavily into access to medical care. [this school]’s rich history as a pioneer in serving and educating underserved and minority populations is a testament to its dedication to compassionate physicanhood, which I consider the greatest virtue any doctor can possess.
Every day when I walk in through my front door, I am reminded of why it is so important that I become conscious of the issues that prevent people from receiving quality medical care. Hanging on the wall opposite the door is a wonderfully drawn charcoal sketch of my wife’s mother holding our infant daughter. My mother-in-law passed away before our daughter was born from a high-survival rate cancer –but without access to a doctor it was allowed to progress until it was untreatable.
My mother in law spent almost her entire life in poverty. She was from an impoverished background and despite her brilliance was not able to finish a college due to financial constraints. She suffered abuse at the hands of her parents and her husband, and later struggled with paranoia and bipolar disorder. At times she worked two jobs to keep her kids clothed and fed, but still had to choose between a doctor’s visit and paying the heating bill. Despite all these hardships, she managed to raise four kids with the determination that she could give them each a life that was better than hers.
She was not an easy patient in her later life, but if just one physician had possessed the compassion and knowledge required to work with her, she may still be alive. Perhaps that sketch on my wall would have been a photo, rather than an artistic rendering of a wish. Perhaps my family would have memories where there is now just a hole.
Someday this country will be in a place where health care is universal, but issues like race, status and mental health will always be a factor. I am determined not to let these be factors when I am practicing medicine. My hope is that [this school] will train me to be the kind of doctor she deserved. The kind of doctor we all deserve. Compassionate. Aware. Conscientious.