DMU students reflect: “What’s My Why?”

One student described the numbness he increasingly felt toward patients in his job as a scribe in a hospital emergency room until a homeless person came in, drenched by the rain and despondent that his wife had left him for his best friend and he’d lost his job. “He had no resources and was all alone. He looked like he’d lost all hope,” the student recalled. “After my shift, all I could think about was that guy. He served as a reminder to me of why I wanted to get into medicine.”

Wanting to be a doctor since childhood…feeling powerless about helping a sister with an eating disorder…working with patients during shadowing experiences: DMU students shared these and other reasons they are seeking careers in health care during a recent “What’s My Why?” discussion on campus. It was organized by Ankit Chopra, a second-year osteopathic medical student and president of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, and Stefanie Abbott, a second-year osteopathic medical student and president of the Geriatric Club, and supported by numerous campus entities – the Office of Student Life, Geriatrics Club, American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, Medical Humanities Society, Student Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Internal Medicine Club, Student Osteopathic Surgery Association and the Student Government Associations of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Health Sciences and the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery.

“Especially during the second semester of both first and second years, we get really bogged down in all the studying and stress of school, so this event was supposed to be an open forum where we can all see the bigger picture again – a chance for students to look past the stress and studying and remember why those chose to do this in the first place,” Ankit says.

Several students described the seemingly small moments that give them a glimpse of their future, such as positive experiences in the Standardized Performance Assessment Lab (SPAL), where students “treat” people who are acting like patients, and connecting knowledge learned in an obstetrics class to a pregnant family member. Others talked about the value of getting involved in campus organizations and volunteer activities.

“I personally made a promise when I was interviewed that if I were to be accepted into this school, I would make sure that I did whatever I could to help others make it through,” Ankit says. “A part of that was joining the Family Medicine Club and hosting events. This event was a chance to do something for my peers and future colleagues, because at the end of the day, we are all in this together.”

He notes that reflecting on one’s “why” is a way to prevent burnout.

“It serves as a reminder on a bad day as to why you chose medicine in the first place,” he says. “It is okay to have bad days, but it is also important to be able to look past those bad days and see the bigger picture.”

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