*DISCLAIMER* I have lots of medical students as friends, I respect their ambitions, I see the importance of the career, and I know they work very hard to earn their medical degree. With that being said, please read with understanding.
I am not new to the notion of spending holidays away from my immediate family. I have spent every holiday away from family at least once, due to both choice (ie, I wanted to go travel) and to distance. Regardless, I can say that I am extremely thankful for my family, as they have supported me throughout the myriad of locals I have lived in and career choices I have brought up.
This Thanksgiving was one of those distance holidays. I had school on Wednesday so there was no way I was going to drive the 10 hours home for only 3 days. I am lucky to have my aunt, uncle, and cousin living just down the road but they weren’t doing a traditional meal this year since 1) my uncle is British, 2) who wants to cook all those dishes for only four people, and 3) we are all vegetarian. Our new family tradition is to make gourmet pizza, drink Martinelli’s, and eat apple pie. There’s much less clean up and we can move afterwards.
Still wanting some yams, dinner roast, and hot apple cider, I ventured over to the second annual “Orphan’s Thanksgiving,” reserved for those whom do not have immediate family within traveling distance over this short break. There we dived into a traditional dinner, complete with a deep-fried turkey, green bean casserole, and so much more food. The highlight had to be a dessert combination of cookie dough, double-stuffed Oreos, and brownie mix baked together.
Since Loma Linda University is a world recognized instituted (and SDA’s have lovingly called it the Adventist equivalent to Mecca), we had students represented from every school who could not go home for this holiday at this Thanksgiving feast. Among them, there were two medical students who caught my attention as they were saying their good-byes. They found out I was in public health and did the whole, “Oh. That’s nice,” with a sympathetic smile. The first medical student proceeded to name the one person in the SPH and I happen to have all my classes with him. He is also in medical school, taking a year to do his MPH in preparation for a career in infectious disease. As the conversation continues, the first medical student mentions that, “it is a nice certificate. A really good add on.” Now, I have worked both with doctors who love public health or don’t see any point in it and I can see where they come from.
But let me tell you: I am working hard for my master’s level degree. I have taken all the same science classes as the medical students as well as the MCAT but found that public health is where I want to be. I plan to continue to work hard in my field, taking care of what doctors do not have time to do.
The other medical student also shot himself in the foot as he continued to agree with the first medical student on how they don’t have time to really learn how evidence based medicine really works. He literally said that it was a good thing they had a recent MPH graduate on their research team or else they could not have found out if any of their research was even significant without her expert knowledge. If he did not have the time know learn how this works (mind you, this was during the summer which means no classes) then I am worried for when these student start practicing medicine. I want to know that my doctor has a solid understanding of why and how and if a medication or procedure will work, not just a hunch that it will work.
This situation is one of many I have recently had of how others with (or in this case pursing) higher degrees, neglect to recognize the importance of public health in the medical task force. It brought to mind several thoughts that I am personal having trouble dealing with. The largest one is what am I doing after I finish? I love public health. I also am very interested in the clinical aspect of health. I also love research, organization, traveling, history, etc., etc. The list could go on but I am still heavily considering a career in medicine, politics, or straight public health. The lack of awareness about public health in medicine both attracts me to and detours me from it.
The Thanksgiving medical students were just the example how both fields need to be better educated of the others’ world and how they need to work better together rather than so far apart. Public health needs medicine and medicine needs public health. So regardless what career I end up in, I will always have the respect to acknowledge and respect someone’s career/educations choices rather than saying it’s a nice addition.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” 1 Corithians 12:27-31