Celebrating National Doctor's Day 2024: Journeys Through Medicine

Why Medicine? Nine physicians share stories that remind them of why they chose their career path.

Mar 29, 2024 · Dox Spotlight

In honor of National Doctor's Day, we celebrate the dedication and compassion of physicians across the nation who have shared moments that reminded them why they chose to become doctors. Each story reflects a moment of clarity, a patient's gratitude, or a life-changing encounter that reaffirms their commitment to the field of medicine. These doctors, hailing from varied specialties and backgrounds, embody the spirit of healthcare—improving lives one patient at a time. Through their stories, we gain a glimpse into the profound impact of physicians who view their work not just as a career, but as a calling.

Karin Molander
On Mother's Day 1978, my sisters and I sat huddled in the small 8-foot by 10-foot waiting room of Rush Presbyterian Hospital, longing for a glimpse of our mother who had been rushed there weeks before in need of emergent surgery. This was not the last time, nor the first time we would celebrate a holiday in the confines of a hospital waiting room. My mother first fell ill when I was 5 years old from what, prior to the advent of antibiotics, was a universally fatal disease—endocarditis. That first illness necessitated a 6-month hospitalization, resulting in a new valve and the birth of my youngest sister. Restrictive hospital policies prevented my sisters and me from seeing my mother for months on end. My father fought multiple insurance companies to cover her much-needed care but was denied as they labeled her illness as a preexisting condition. We floated close to poverty, eligible for free school lunches. That Mother's Day, I idealistically decided to pursue a medical career. And as an emergency medicine physician, I take pride in a profession that serves as the nation's safety net. Under EMTALA, we are tasked with evaluating and stabilizing every patient who crosses the ED doors, regardless of ability to pay. Being there for a patient in their moment of need, much like someone was there for a scared girl on a Mother's Day in the 1970s, is why I became an emergency medicine physician.

Leyla Warsame
I have been privileged. As a home-visiting PCP, I had the privilege of connecting with patients in their own spaces. Once, a patient met me at her door in a joyous mood and full of praise. Once we settled in our seats, she exclaimed, "I have tried to tell doctors what's going on with me for years but no one did what you did! You listened and you told me to trust you and try the medication. And it worked!! I have not had such a clear mind in months!" She made me tearful as she told me all the tasks she has accomplished due to being able to think clearly. I was humbled and reminded that the reason I went into medicine was to make a good difference in my patients' lives, and she was a happy and timely reminder.

Felix Reyes
On my day-to-day, I have several reminders of why I chose to be a doctor, but nothing fulfills me more than helping patients with asthma or COPD have better symptom control and improved quality of life.

Frank Okosun
After helping patients recover from a debilitating illness or assisting them with a difficult transition, the profound gratitude and respect that they show is very humbling and fulfilling. Doctors take an oath to save lives, a responsibility which cannot be taken for granted and is indeed a privilege. If I had to do it all over, I would still make the same career choice.

Harneet Ranauta
This National Doctor's Day, I'm sharing my unique journey as a physician that began in the diverse landscapes of India and has blossomed in the USA. My passion for medicine was ignited by witnessing my grandfather's struggle with diabetes and the challenges in healthcare accessibility in our communities. As an immigrant and first-gen physician, I faced numerous challenges, but each one has only strengthened my resolve to improve healthcare for all. Here's to all fellow doctors, striving to make a difference, one patient at a time.

Akanksha Dadlani
I had a patient who was 25 years old with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Early on in his treatment course, I was working with his family to get a detailed history in order to create a reasonable treatment plan. As I was talking to the patient's father for the first time, he stopped in the middle of a sentence about the patient's medication history to thank me for taking the time to listen to him and taking a detailed, deliberate history. He said that he felt his son was safe in the hospital and had a team that cared about him. He said he actually felt hopeful for the first time in 3 years that we could help his son achieve some goals like showering every day, meeting with friends, keeping a job. TLDR: I became a psychiatrist to help patients and their families achieve their goals and live their version of an ideal life.

I had an opportunity to work as a teleintensivist during the COVID pandemic and be a vital member of the medical team in areas where specialist care was scarce. Even from many miles away, we virtually cared for patients and their families at the bedside, offloaded onsite intensivists' workload, and worked collaboratively with nurses to rally the team together and deliver best-in-class care. I distinctly remember one ARDS patient that needed to be proned urgently, prompting an opportunity to remotely educate the team and foster teamwork. With a team of willing nurses and CC-APP, we trained and upskilled nurses and RTs on the proning protocol as a potentially lifesaving measure for their patients. It was meaningful to work closely with dedicated teams throughout the country to extend critical care expertise to underserved areas during a pandemic.

I recall a patient who wanted to end his life when he was told that he needed dialysis for his advanced renal failure. He was in his mid-20s and could not see his life on dialysis. After several weeks of counseling, he agreed to start dialysis. I took care of him as my dialysis patient for several years. I lost contact when he moved to another state. A few years later, he came back to our hospital to introduce his wife and newborn baby. He had received his transplant and started a family with his wife. That was the moment I felt that I made the right decision to become a doctor. It was my joyous moment to see a young man who had lost all his hope now a wonderful husband and father!

I had a 5-year-old patient who kept returning to the office with uncontrolled asthma exacerbations. We finally decided to start a daily controller inhaler to help control his asthma. The parents were hesitant at first to start the inhaler, but after a long discussion of the benefits and ways to administer the inhaler, the parents agreed. One month later, the patient returned and had gone the whole month without any difficulty breathing. He was able to return to all the activities he used to enjoy, such as running and playing soccer. The parents were very appreciative that we decided to start the controller inhaler. It is moments like these that remind me why I chose to become a doctor—when my clinical knowledge and compassion can help a young child and their family live their healthiest and fullest lives.

As we commemorate National Doctor's Day, Doximity extends heartfelt gratitude to all doctors for their unwavering dedication to healthcare. Happy Doctor's Day!

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