Home > Education, Family, Health, School > My brother-in-law, AKA my favoritest future doctor!

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.

law grad 1

My brother-in-law was also careful to present his most genteel side.

law grad 2

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.

  1. May 30, 2014 at 10:40 am

    For anyone who’s interested, here‘s an old post giving more insight into (my take on) my rockin’ BIL.

  2. Twindaddy
    May 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Very awesome.

  3. May 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    What a legacy of education your two l’il ones will have. Congratulations to your BIL.

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      My grandparents really did greet me not with “hello” but “Are you getting an education?” It certainly helped, as did Mom’s echoing the sentiment. Of her four kids, two have advanced degrees and a third is on the way to one. The fourth is understandably more interested in other endeavors. 😀

  4. May 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Oh my goodness. What a wonderful essay!!

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      It’s a small step toward showing the man who’s one of my best friends on this planet! He’s crass and loud, on occasion, but full of compassion that will make all the difference in his future career.

  5. May 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    My face is wet with tears. What a wonderful doctor he’ll be. Your mom keeps touching lives, doesn’t she? I’m so happy that he got into his first choice! He’s going to be one busy guy once his classes begin, but I’m sure he’s more than up to the task! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this! 🙂 ❤

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Even though I’m stoked for him, I have to admit to being a little sad that it’ll probably be hard to get in touch with him! I guess–*siiiiiiiigh*–I’ll probably just have to go up and visit them more. What a hardship.


      Mom said he’d always be part of the family, no matter what happened between me and my sister. She was right, but I’m glad that we didn’t have to test that . . . and more than that, glad that his love, patience and compassion will be a light to others in the future.

      Much love. ♥

      • June 2, 2014 at 4:43 am

        I’m glad to know of at least one other doctor who is trying to change the system! My daughter has been rotating at a V.A. hospital for the past few weeks in psychiatry. Her psych rotations are tough for her because they hit a little too close to home with her sister’s issues. She’s very frustrated with the doctor that she’s with because it’s very obvious to her that he doesn’t like his job and doesn’t listen to his patients. He’s told her that one of the reasons he chose working at the V.A.is because of the ease of taking days off. And this is where we send our veterans for help. 😦
        Luckily, she’s rotated with more caring doctors, than not and is having a very positive experience overall.
        That is tough that you’ll have to visit your sis and bro-in-law even more. 🙂 I’ve always felt the same way about K’s husband. I’ve known him since he was still a kid–they began “dating” at 13 and 15, so now at almost 30, I can’t imagine him not being a part of our family.

        Have a fabulous day, dear Deb! 🙂

  6. May 30, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Powerful! I wish him continued determination such that years of work cannot dampen his resolve and like minded colleagues that can help him further his mission!

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Thank you! He impressed me with his insight and compassion at sixteen; now, almost twenty years later, I think/hope it’s safe to say these traits are with him till the end. 🙂

  7. May 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    That essay brought this fake medical professional to tears. May he have a long and fulfilling career as not just a doctor, but as a healer.

  8. May 31, 2014 at 5:36 am

    So moving. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you for reading it! It occurred to me after posting that I’d shared the draft, but still . . . I think it gets the message across . . .

  9. May 31, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I am nearly on my knees, I am certainly in tears. What a spectacular doctor your brother-in-law will make. What a family you are. I wish I could hug every single last one of you, just once would be enough for me, then I would be able to always hold you each in my heart and always lift you up into the light…I do this anyway but it would be better if I could hug you just once.

    I love you. Always. Every single day.

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      I wish you could hug us all, too. I think you would get a kick out of all my siblings, by blood and by marriage. You would love this particular BIL, as you’ve already seen.Come to think of it, I think you and my younger brother could talk/argue for days, in an amicable if occasionally heated fashion. I’m chuckling just imagining it.

      Did I mention that when A and I were discussing honeymoon locales, I tossed out yours on the off chance we could meet up for even a hug and a wave? Obviously that didn’t end up happening, but even the potential for it filled my heart.

      I love you.

      • June 2, 2014 at 1:41 am

        One of the days I will figure out how to find middle ground and we will sit for hours with children running about, just for the pleasure of your company.

  10. May 31, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Beautifully written! Your brother-in-law will be the type of physician the world needs. Best, Cate

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      I really think he will! He thought about doing research for a while, but I’m glad experience with both research and patients cinched his desire to work with patients. His community will be better for it.

  11. May 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    An absolutely wonderful essay, from a man who will be a credit to the medical profession. He certainly is a credit to his family already — to all of you — and his story’s a good antidote to the cynicism abroad in the land.

    • June 1, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      He really is. Sometimes I stop and wonder what life would be like without him. It’s a strange thought as he’s been in my life about as long as he hasn’t been, and has filled it with love, laughter and consideration that was harder to find before. I am so grateful for him (and his awesome mom, who would seem to be the tree from which the apple doesn’t fall far).

  12. June 1, 2014 at 5:42 am

    That is a beautiful and truly moving essay.

  13. June 1, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Amen for a great doctor in the making

  1. December 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm
  2. January 31, 2015 at 4:36 pm
  3. March 31, 2015 at 7:47 pm
  4. February 3, 2016 at 4:12 am

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