Here we are. It's the end. So, the thoughts I'm leaving you all
with, are what I deem, my "commencement speech." I wasn't asked to
give the commencement speech (I don't even know if we have students
give one at all), but if I had been -- this is what it might be
In the immortal words of Diane Court, from one of the seminal
movies of MY generation (Say Anything):
"We're all about to enter 'The
Real World.' That's what everybody says. But most of us have been
in the real world for a long time. But I have something to tell
everybody. I glimpsed our future, and all I can say is... 'Go
Well, Diane, I don't have the same advice.
Yes, we're about to go out into the "Real World," and some of us
have been out there all along, and long before, but it's different
now for us. Some people have their whole lives and careers ahead of
them. They have families to create and fortunes to make -- names
for themselves. Others have different goals entirely -- coming to
this as a steppingstone, or a second career, or both. These are
exciting, and scary times for all of us. Because after we walk
across this stage, after the fanfare and the parties and the
dinners and whatever else, we'll simply be -- Doctors.
It's a title -- sure. But it doesn't mean anything unless we
MAKE it mean something. If I've learned anything at all over the
course of my professional and academic lives (and there have been a
few), it doesn't mean anything at all, if we don't do something
We're called to be leaders and teachers. We're called to make a
difference in the lives of our patients and communities. And if we
so choose, we're called to be revolutionaries.
When people ask me (nowadays) what I want to be when I grow up,
I often use the following quote (also from Say Anything -- in the
voice of the illustrious Lloyd Dobbler):
"You mean like career? Uh, I
don't know. I've, I've thought about this quite a bit, Sir, and I'd
have to say considering what's waiting out there for me, I don't
want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a
career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy
anything sold or processed, or... process anything sold, bought or
processed, or repair anything sold, bought or processed, you know,
as a career I don't want to do that."
And I might add.... So, I'm becoming a Doctor.
For those of you contemplating a career as a physician, know
that it is one of the hardest choices you could ever make. The
school is grueling, the hours are long, and the thanks may not be
plentiful. If you can choose ANYTHING else that you believe you'd
be happy with, do it. If you want to be a lifelong student,
challenged every single day, and called to be more than you ever
thought you could possibly be, it's the perfect place for you. What
are you waiting for?
As for me, the first part (Yes, I said first part) of my
education is over. There may be more studies. There may be research
projects. There may be additional degrees. But I'm far from being
finished. I'm just getting started. And so are my classmates.
It's been a ridiculously long, hard road. We've been through a
lot together. There were times we hated each other -- and times we
couldn't hug each other hard enough. I have watched my classmates
grow as people and as practitioners -- into things they never
thought they could be. From the first day of dissection when people
didn't know if they could handle it, to the last days of clinic
when some of us knew we'd never see each other again after
graduation -- we are family.
For those just getting started, don't give up. No matter what --
whenever you're struggling or Life hands you a speed bump... DO.
NOT. GIVE. UP. Persevere! Keep studying. Keep moving. Keep trying.
Keep learning. I have faith in You... just like You've had faith in
Look out world. Here I come.
Have you ever stared at something so long that it looks
completely different? I do this with words. I think that's a new
level of zoning out. Sometimes when I do this, it completely
changes my perspective. Not all that often, mind you, but it does.
Lately, I've been getting hit with a lot, that's been altering my
I've been spending a lot of time in downtown St. Petersburg.
It's not as if I haven't lived here for 8+ years, and it's not as
if I haven't been downtown nearly a million times. Because of
friends living downtown, I'm seeing parts of it that I've never
seen before. I'm always amazed at what exists, right under my nose
-- but I just haven't taken the time to see it. So now, it's
starting to look completely different.
Like many downtowns across the country, ours has had its
moments. There were department stores downtown, factories, big
business. I've always wanted to research some of the buildings
downtown, especially the Studebaker Building, which I used to drive by
nearly every day when I lived on the other side of town. And then
there's the nation's first open-air post office, which, honestly --
these pictures don't do justice. The inside of the post office
reminds me of old time banks and Westerns -- loaded with
beautifully stained wood and remembrances of teller windows. Some
of these buildings have been standing for a long, long time --
constructed not long after the turn of the century, which for this
area is nearly ancient.
Also, like many downtowns, St. Pete seems to constantly undergo
some form of revival. New places move in; old ones move out. Things
get rebuilt or renovated, torn down, and new life comes in to
change the look and feel of it all. The more time I spend down
there, the more I like it. There are old bars and restaurants,
beautiful scenery, and the old stately architecture. I've posted
pictures of the banyan trees, the Dali and Mahaffey Theater, the
Pier, and a few of the marina as well. I'm running out of time to
explore here -- at least while I'm still at school. I've set a
loose goal for myself, of visiting every building between Beach
Drive and 34th street on Central Avenue. I wonder how close to that
I can get with this crazy schedule.
We're in Week 10, which means midterms are over here at
National, and I'm looking at finals for Western States. I can't
believe how quickly things have passed. I keep going back and forth
about jobs and locations and being excited about being out in
practice and clinic and a million other things. I was forwarded a
list of job openings all over the country, towards the end of last
week. I couldn't help but look -- thinking that it was all very
premature, and yet I'm being told that I SHOULD be looking right
now. I'm still thinking it might be a little presumptuous.
And of course, this week I have to turn in a sample business
plan. It's hard to anticipate things like that when you have no
idea where you'll be. Of course, I could go anywhere. The question
becomes where, and when, and how, and why. We've all talked about
setting up our own practices -- well, most of us have. Some, I
think, are planning on joining practices and others might just
associate for a short period of time. When I thought I had a clear
plan before, now I'm not so sure. Life sometimes gets in the way of
plans. John Lennon said something like, "Life is what happens when
you're busy making plans." For right now, I'm only making immediate
plans, with the rest in the background.
Maybe I just need a change in perspective.
Greetings and Salutations, blog readers!
It's been an interesting week. I can honestly say I don't much
know what to do with myself since there aren't any boards to study
for, and it's early in the trimester so there aren't exams (not
that there aren't things to study--mind you). We have had quizzes
and assignments already. The professors certainly aren't wasting
any time! Last week was the first full week of school for me--since
we were taking boards the previous week. It was a LONG week.
The 6th Tri schedule is pretty long and involved. I feel
like we're moving classrooms and changing topics every few minutes.
Everything from Pediatrics to Rehab is on the docket. But, we have
a couple of projects in different classes that are tied together.
Both of which are associated with where we'll be in just a couple
In marketing, we're challenged with setting up a business
plan--a real one. That means I have to research where I think I
might set up my practice, what type of practice I want to have, the
cost of setting up and maintaining a practice, and a million other
things. I'll be honest. I'm a little overwhelmed. On one hand it
seems a little bit premature, and at the same time, now is the time
to do all of this research--before I'm in the clinic and focused on
St. Pete at Dusk
So, the quest is on. I already know what kind of practice I'll
have (Go Functional Med!), but I have no idea where. So I'm looking
into scope of practice in a variety of locations. From there I'll
be searching demographics--to see if the area can support a
practice of this type, and also--if I'd even want to live there.
One more slight complication--are any of these locations anywhere
near where Grey wants to go to college?
So, things can never be simple--can they? I accept this
challenge. It's exciting--to be thinking about and essentially
planning that kind of future--the one where I'm done with school.
Honestly, I can't remember a time when I wasn't in school (well I
can, but it's been a WHILE). All this work that I've been
doing--that all of us have been doing--is starting to come to
fruition. We're building our futures. That's pretty exciting!
It occurred to me, yesterday morning that you never know what
can happen. One moment in time can change everything. We spend so
much of our time working towards something--our education, a better
income, job, house, car, etc., etc. We often forget to savor the
I keep thinking back on my experience in the mountains, about
one friend in particular, who viewed every single thing with
absolute Joy. It was like seeing something for the first time or
finally understanding something that we'd been struggling with. You
know that feeling, right? It's the moment when something, some
idea, suddenly sinks in and it's such a beautiful thing. I marvel
at that Joy. Sometimes I see it in my classmates. Mostly I see it
in children when they experience something for the first time.
In my former life, I had the amazing experience of volunteering
for a hippotherapy organization. If you're not familiar with
hippotherapy--it's using horses as physical therapy for posture,
body control, and many other things. I worked with all ages and
disorders, but mostly with children with autism and cerebral palsy.
Joy. Every moment of every day spent volunteering there was Joy.
The moment they made an accomplishment, were able to sustain a
movement, sit up straight--each time, pure Joy.
We spend so much time working towards our goals that we forget
to experience Joy. It's not as simple as taking time for ourselves.
That's important, too. What I mean is--smell the roses, chase the
rainbows, seize the day.
A good friend of mine lost someone that she loved dearly this
past week. I've stood by her as she's struggled to get a handle on
her life, her relationship with that oldest and dearest friend, and
figure out where to go from here. Every word I've heard uttered
about that friend was that she enjoyed the experience of Life and
relished it. But every time we lose someone that we love, there's
always some form of sadness or regret--regret that we didn't get to
spend more time with them, or that we said or did the wrong thing,
or that they had so much more to experience in their own lives.
(Image from thelavisshow.wordpress.com)
In 1989, a movie came out called "Dead Poet's Society." This
movie, which I highly recommend, talks about sadness, loss, and
regret--what happens when we miss our lives because we're focused
on the wrong things. The phrase, Carpe Diem, gained its
popularity from this film. It means, if you're not familiar, Seize
My challenge to all of you reading is this: Don't put off until
tomorrow what you could do today. Don't hesitate to tell someone
that you love them. Don't hesitate to show your love. Don't put off
learning something that you want to learn. And whatever you do,
don't let another day go by with one ounce of regret. Make it
To whoever decided that we should have extra days to collect
ourselves while many faculty attended National's Homecoming
celebration in Lombard, I offer my undying gratitude and
appreciation. I apprehensively took the opportunity to reconnect
with friends and family in North Carolina.
I don't generally have a whole lot of free time--it's true. I
spend the vast majority of my time in class and then studying for
exams. Especially during midterms, there just isn't usually any
spare time to speak of. Having these extra days off for Homecoming
was a huge boon. With projects to complete, papers to write, notes
to compile, and exams to prep for, I threw caution to the wind and
decided to actually take the time off. I didn't do much to promote
my studies--other than take care of my Self.
As I sit here writing, I'm happily exhausted and looking forward
to a long night's sleep and a long day of driving. My heart is full
of reminders of my past--of my friends and experiences both before
coming to National and since. My adventures over the last several
days have taken me through decisions to pursue medicine and
healing, memories of experience and support from those that
encourage(d) me to be where I am today, and hopes--from others and
I visited NC State, where I'd spent many hours toiling over
books, exams, applications, and things that I really wasn't sure
would ever be important to my education or my life. I sat with a
new friend and discussed wonderful things--lessons, hopes, dreams
and ambitions. I've always been enamored by the parabolic
reflectors in front of the library--where one can sit and whisper
from many feet away and the other can hear every single syllable
said in the subtlest of sounds, as if it was whispered directly
into their ear. This has to be a metaphor for my decision to pursue
medicine as my life's calling--how just one thought has been
amplified and now comes back to me much, much clearer from far away
into the future. I've been so encouraged, by family, by classmates,
by friends. The end of my formal studies are coming closer to an
end and soon I'll be choosing not only what to practice, but
Many of my classmates have already chosen where they want to be
after graduation. Some will stay in Florida; some will go back to
their hometowns. I am thinking about many locations--from the most
progressive of environments and widest scope of practice, to where
I find my Heart. This will be a tough decision,
My weekend has had some interesting twists and turns. Unexpected
information and happenings have reminded me how important support
from our friends and loved ones truly is, and how we carry that
with us throughout our lives.
I ask that as everyone continues to prepare and work on
midterms, that we all remember why we're here. Remember how you got
here and who helped you, encouraged you, and lifted you up
throughout the process. Think about where you are going from here
and keep it present in your mind. The end of school will be here
before we know it.
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
• First Week in Student Clinic
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