Before I forget, I want to make a mental note of thanks I would like to give to a few physicians who have helped me find my path thus far along the medical career decision tree:
• Frederick Kushner, M.D., an Interventional Cardiologist who gave me the opportunity to stand by his side during three catheterization procedures (two balloon angioplasties and stent insertions, one diagnostic angiogram) as a first year medical student. Although Cardiology itself has not captured my intellectual interest as vigorously as Neurology, Dr. Kushner did introduce me to the excitement, impact, and gratification of interventional procedures. The lifestyle of an interventionalist, albeit including late night phone calls and times when it is necessary to rush back to the hospital to save someone’s life, is compelling to my desire to dramatically improve the lives of my patients using both my brain and my hands. In fact, if I were to wake up in the middle of the night, I would want it to be because there’s a life out there that I can save. Dr. Kushner, among the doctors I know personally, is the one who to me seems to best fit the role of superhero.
• Nereida Parada, M.D., a Pulmonary-Critical Care physician who specializes in adult asthma and allowed me to follow and work with her in her clinic on one occasion as a second year medical student. That one morning galvanized my desire to incorporate outpatient medicine into my clinical career: previously, I had been under the impression that I would only like inpatient medicine (e.g. working with “sick patients”). However, continuity of care and primary and secondary prevention of disease are increasingly emphasized themes in modern medicine, and these cannot be accomplished solely in the hospital setting. Dr. Parada demonstrated to me a powerful physician-patient relationship that exhibited great teamwork: she was able to tap into the sources of self-motivation that the patients might have to better manage their chronic diseases and achieve excellent results. Even with interests in critical care and interventional procedures, I do think that I want to have my own specialty clinic to manage the health of my patients suffering from targeted diseases that I can treat much better than a generalist.
• Sheryl Martin-Schild, M.D., Ph.D., a Vascular Neurologist who is developing the Stroke Service at Tulane Hospital and who was my first attending physician during my third year of medical school. Much to my surprise due to my conflicted feelings on neurology prior to my clerkship, Dr. Martin-Schild and her team were able to rapidly expand my interest in neurology and develop the notion in my mind that I could find myself at home in this field. Even more, as a new and young faculty member with a focused vision for a program that can optimize the care of a large group of patients, she has helped instill, or perhaps uncover, a growing passion of mine for treating cerebrovascular diseases (a family of diseases that fulfill my personal criteria for intellectual interest and personal accomplishment/impact). I have her to thank for inspiring me to start pursuing Neurology as a field, and I hope to work with her as a sub-intern once I have completed my core clerkships.