The End

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 like.

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 Back'."

Well, Diane, I don't have the same advice.

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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 with it.

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.

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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 me.

Look out world. Here I come.