A physician once told me that medicine is the perfect combination of science and art; the logic of science and the creativity of art. My journey to medicine started in the world of arts. Although my path has been serpentine, it has uniquely prepared me for a career in emergency medicine. I am confident my past experiences have strengthened and enriched my ability to become a skilled and effective physician.
I started my professional life in marketing and advertising, spending time specifically focusing on arts and arts nonprofits. While it was ultimately an industry that I chose not to pursue, it taught me many practical skills I will be able to use in the near future.
The most important thing I learned while in marketing and advertising was the ability to think creatively on demand. Creative problem solving was an integral part of my work. The industry operates on short production schedules and constantly looming deadlines. Due to this, I gained the ability to efficiently manage time and resources. Marketing and advertising also taught me how to see form as well as function, finding a balance between creativity and science. Not only do campaigns need to be attractive, they must produce measurable results.
Similarly, each patient presents a new puzzle to be solved and working through the diagnostic algorithm is like finding new pieces to put into place. A simple, vague complaint of “abdominal pain” has a long list of possible pathologies behind it. While the algorithms are good for keeping thoughts organized, my background in thinking abstractly helps me approach the patient as a whole human being.
Art is a concept given flesh by details. A diagnosis is a chief complaint supported by signs and symptoms. The ability to approach a patient from a broad perspective has helped to provide a context when considering the details. Marketing has taught me when and how to obsess over details, as well as how to pivot quickly.
As medical rotations were furloughed nationwide this year, I was in need of more training and the healthcare system needed help. Using some creative problem solving, I was able to work with a hospital in a poor neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. We developed a pilot program for medical students to work as paid employees that took into account our scope of medicine as well as the needs of the hospital. I was able to serve the needs of that community as well as gain valuable experience such as running codes, intubating patients, suturing faces and holding hands. That work cemented my passion for emergency medicine.
Emergency medicine has allowed me to serve others during both a worldwide crisis and during their personal times of crisis, as well. Amongst other presentations, I have been involved with the care of gunshot wounds, comas, strokes and dissecting aortas. During the plight of others, I can only imagine being in a position of compassionate helping.
I have explored the arts and studied science. Emergency medicine relies on a balance of creativity and logic. I look forward to deepening my understanding of this perfect combination.
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