Why I’m Becoming a Doctor

It’s stereotypical. I’m an Asian college student from an upper middle class neighborhood who has everything handed to him. Tuition? Paid for by mommy. Hobbies? Daddy’s going to give it to me. I’ve had a very privileged and entitled life. This makes it so when I tell people I want to be a doctor, I hear a “pffhhttt”, then a “of course you do.”

I’m here to tell people why.

April 9th, 2012. I’ll never forget that date. That’s the day I decided that I wanted to be a doctor. It happen right after school track practice. Crossing the street with phone in hand, listening to whatever edgy punk rock song was on my playlist that year, I didn’t see the car coming out of the lot. At thirty-five miles an hour, he slammed into the left side of my body, carrying me onto the roof of his car, bringing me 10 meters from the crosswalk. He abruptly stopped, tossing me off onto the asphalt. All within 3 seconds. In only three seconds I had sustained massive internal bleeding and a broken left arm.

When I regained consciousness, an officer flanked by two paramedics stood over me. “son, are you ok?”, “can you speak?”

On the ambulance, I dipped in and out of consciousness, but I clearly remember two things.

One.

There was a paramedic who put a collar on me, strapped me down to the gurney, and talked me through what he was doing. There weren’t any trauma centers close to my hometown, so I was being transported a few miles south to the nearest facility. He was going to put a needle in my arm so I could have painkillers and fluids intravenously. He bent over to put the needle in my arm, and the ambulance went over a speedbump. The sudden jerk caused his hand to drag the needle a centimeter up my arm, and I immediate yelped and retracted my arm. To be completely honest, I was scared. I heard them talking about spinal and organ damage, and now there’s a centimeter long cut in my arm. The paramedic calmly repositioned the IV told me everything was going to be okay. I believed him. “Everything is going to be okay”

Two.

When I got to the hospital, I could see no one I knew. My family and track coach were nowhere to be found. Nurses and residents running frantically back and forth. I could hear faint beeping from whatever machine I was hooked up to and the fluorescent hospital lights cast odd shadows across their faces. A voice to my left, in a German accent said that they were going to run tests on me to see what was damaged. I felt pain move slowly from my left arm, then my entire body. I was being put into a dark tunnel. Light filtered in from above. I fell unconscious.

When I woke, I was surrounded by family and hospital staff. They took care of me as if I was the only ill person in the whole world. They constantly asked if I wanted water or food or if there was anything they could do to make my stay more comfortable. The German accent from before came from a nurse who was taking care of me. I asked if I was going to be okay. He said of course, because he would never let anything bad happen to me. He showed me his BMW collection on his phone, told me how strong and healthy I was, and talked to me about everything I pointed to. I learned a little about thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, MRI’s and EKG’s that day. At that moment, I actually had fun there.

At my physical nadir, I felt taken care of. Doctors, EMTs, and nurses turned my fear of death into a comfortable recovery. From that day forward, I was going to be a doctor. I knew how scared I was and how severe my injuries were; but, I know there will be people more scared of illnesses much worse than mine, and I want to make that fear disappear. This is why I want to become a doctor: I will transform fear into courage, sickness into health, and confusion into understanding.