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The first two years of medical school introduced me to countless specialties that I could imagine myself entering into. I had a taste of several specialties through volunteering, work, and research, but I needed more “hands on” experience. During this time, I began working nights and weekends for State Organ/Tissue Procurement as a tissue procurement technician. We would remove from tissue donors everything from long bones, ribs and the iliac crest to lower limb veins, tendons, and even the heart en bloc for valves. It was the perfect job for a medical student. I was able to learn sterile technique, use of surgical instruments, and gain actual surgical experience without the fear of inflicting further injury to the patient. I loved the fast pace and feel of surgery. Then, during my first 3rd year rotation, I tore my ACL playing football and underwent autograft replacement one week before starting my surgical rotation. Standing on a swollen leg all day and icing it all night proved taxing and made me question my love for the OR. I enjoyed clinic during most of my rotations, but it also proved taxing without the variety of procedures.
My first day of 4th year in Pediatric Orthopaedics, I felt this was what I had been looking for. First of all, I could empathize with many of the patients in clinic having broken multiple bones myself: everything from a both bone forearm fracture skiing, to my nose in basketball practice, to a partial achilles tendon tear and then my ACL playing football, not to mention all the hand, finger, and toe fractures. Second, it brought back all of the excitement I felt in my job as a Tissue Procurement Tech with the additional adrenaline rush of working on a dynamic, living person. I was thrilled to see the opposite end of the work I had done in tissue recovery. Witnessing firsthand the results of allograft tendons,bone blocks, and fracture sites packed with bone powder further increased the pride I had in working with donors. Third, I valued being able to have an immediate impact on the patient’s quality of life. I saw an 8-year-old boy in the ER who had been hit by a car and sustained multiple displaced fractures with nerve impingement at his right elbow. The tears of concern and fear in the eyes of his parents were only matched by tears of relief when the cast was removed and full range of motion was reestablished.
Through Orthopaedics I could provide a good life for my family.. Knowing from experience that I would be prepared to take care of them in the event of an accident would also bring peace to my soul. My family is the most important aspect of my life and the highlight of my day is when I can give my wife and 8 week old daughter a hug and a kiss. My time to spend with them is extremely valuable to me. Also, a good physician should be well rounded and I value my occasional free time to pursue interests such as: football, scuba diving, skiing, hiking , hunting, community volunteer work, church activities, and the occasional nap. With good time management I feel I will be able to occasionally enjoy these aspects of my life.
I always hoped that I would be excited to go to work and that I would find people as passionate about their jobs as I was. I have yet to meet an Orthopaedic Surgeon who didn't have a smile while telling me about their job. I could not be more excited about what my future holds.