Healthcare today is more complex than ever. With more advancements, tools and information at their fingertips, doctors have an overwhelming job to diagnose and treat their patients every day.
On Saturday, March 30th, we honor the men and women who see us 365 days a year and recognize their contributions to the health and wellbeing of society. In honor of National Doctor’s Day, we interviewed real physicians from around the country to ask them why they decided to pursue a career in medicine.
Here’s what they had to say…
“The reason I decided to choose a career in medicine, specifically pediatrics, began [developing] at the age of nine. I had a grandmother who was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and so, that sparked my interest in science. I really loved AP biology in the 10th grade, and later, I started working with kids. I was a camp counselor for a few years and worked with kindergarten campers; I really loved them. So, to me, pediatrics was the perfect marriage of all of my interests.” – Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini, Pediatrician, New York, NY.
“When I was in medical school, I thought the brain was fascinating. There was so much that we just didn’t understand and so many changes that could occur in the brain that impacted patients’ abilities to think, to reason, to move, to function. As I put all of that together, I felt a little bit like a detective. It was fascinating to me and very rewarding. And so, I determined that I wanted to be a neurologist as I continued on in my medical career. I’m happy to say that initial fascination has persisted through the years.”
– Dr. Danette Taylor, Neurologist, West Bloomfield, MI.
“I used to be a very poor college student and I remember when I was at the University of Illinois, my parents told me that I needed to start ‘earning my keep.’ So, I went to the student center and looked for the different jobs that were available. The highest-paying job at the time was a certified nursing assistant. So, I worked as a CNA and developed this love for patient care. I fell in love with taking care of people, and that job just drove me into going to medical school and becoming a physician. After I became a physician, I had an internal medicine residency. During that period, I had a chance to work with many different patients, and that’s when I realized my passion for treating cancer patients; holding their hands, building an emotional connection, and truly caring for them and their families. That’s why I do what I do.” – Dr. Chandler Park, Oncologist, Louisville, KY.
“I’ve always liked science as a child, and I wanted to apply it to the human body. I felt that science would really help me to cure diseases and benefit people, so I really wanted to apply that. And also, intellectual curiosity. That’s all what drove me into medicine.” – Dr. Robert Vazquez, Family Medicine, San Francisco CA.
“It goes back to my father, who was a physician. I grew up watching him interact with his patients and the relationship he developed over the years taking care of them. I knew earlier on that I wanted to a career which allowed me to help patients along their journey with their condition and hopefully make them feel better. I now have many stories and continuing ones with my patients as my father did during this career in medicine." – Dr. Munir S. Janmohamed, Advanced Heart Failure Cardiologist, Sacramento, CA.
“My career and passion for medicine stems from about the age of three, when I decided to tell my family and my teachers that medicine was my passion. What I saw in medicine, specifically as it relates to being a physician, was that you lead the team. You are responsible for providing care for a patient in a compassionate way. I felt that I was very capable of doing so, even at the age of three, (I knew) that I was able to be that person. And so, I really set my life path along the continuum of ensuring that that became my reality.” – Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, Obesity Medicine, Boston, MA.
“My father was sick most of my life -- in fact, I can't really remember him without some degree of infirmity. He always credited his physicians, particularly his cardiologist, for giving him precious time with his family he never thought he would have. Hearing him speak so highly of the care and compassion his physicians provided made me want to go into medicine for as long as I can remember.” – Dr. Peter Alperin, Internal Medicine, San Francisco, CA.
“My career in medicine began as a personal journey to answer several questions I had about life, religion and 'the meaning of it all'. I was convinced that by being more involved in people's lives (and deaths) that I would be able to answer nagging questions I had about why I (and we) even existed. My career in medicine, it turns out, went on to become quite a bit more. In the end, it was not about doing something for myself. Rather, what I realized along the way was how much of an impact I could have by dedicating my time and energy towards trying, even in the littlest ways, to work for the betterment of others. I have met the most amazing people, learned and experienced things that are difficult to even describe and shared in some of the most real moments life has to offer with fellow human beings from all walks of life.” – Dr. Amit Phull, Emergency Medicine, Chicago IL.
“I decided I wanted to go into medicine in high school. I began shadowing an anesthesiologist and each surgery, even the routine cases, seemed more exciting than the last. The pharmacology and physiology was unfamiliar and fascinating and inspired me to go home and read. The calm confidence of the anesthesiologists made a huge impression and I aspired to be like them one day.” – Dr. Joanna Haight, Anesthesiologist, San Francisco CA.
"To me, being a physician is a great privilege. It is a very long and challenging road until you are finally able to take care of patients - but I truly cannot imagine a more satisfying career. I love meeting new patients each day, learning about their diverse backgrounds, diagnosing a variety of conditions and most importantly, partnering with my patients to improve their health. In dermatology, I am fortunate to be able to diagnose anything from skin cancer to infections to serious systemic illnesses based on a patient's skin findings. From the time I entered medical school, there have been many long days, but never have I had a moment of regret - I feel so honored that this is my career." – Dr. Rupa Badlani, Dermatology, Oakland, CA
We say “thank you” to our physicians for all that they do for us and our loved ones. Don’t forget to take the opportunity to thank your own physician for their dedication to care for patients.