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Why has been a primary motivation since I can remember, from the time I first became interested in the workings of the human body to the present, as I stay current with changes in medicine as a family practitioner. Growing up I found human anatomy and physiology fascinating. The first year of medical school with its basic science introduction was interesting, but it was Pathology that got my full attention. I was finally able to find out what was going wrong in a disease process and why it went wrong.
Pathology was my first choice of medical specialty, but as the recipient of a National Health Service Corps scholarship, I was required to spend three years in a primary care field following either an internship or primary care residency. I opted for a Family Practice residency. By its completion my personal situation had changed. I had my own family, and I decided to stay with Family Practice, but I have never felt settled in that specialty. I enjoy the occasions of Family Practice that involve definitive diagnoses and specific therapies. Much of daily practice, however, requires empiric therapy based on a working diagnosis or disorders that have a psychogenic component. I find the former frustrating because I prefer to make decisions with more objectivity and the latter because that arena is not my strength. Pathology is my goal because at the root of the work process is the diagnosis, a conclusion. I look forward to the intellectual stimulation of understanding the disease process and how rewarding it will be able to assist a clinician and patient in arriving at an answer.
My family is now at a point where it makes sense for me to begin a new challenge and return to training status. My oldest son will be starting college this year. My other son will be a high school freshman and is open to new adventures. I personally will still have 20 years or more of productive practice following a Pathology residency and desire to spend the remainder of my professional career in a field that provides the opportunity of answering why for other clinicians.
I am not exactly sure in what part of Pathology my future lies, whether private practice or teaching. I love to teach, whether it is sports to my kids, a Sunday School class, a patient interested in proper nutrition or weight loss, or a group of family practice residents. My ideal program will train me for private practice and academia with a broad exposure to various subspecialties of Pathology. I hope residents, faculty, and fellows will collaborate in a collegial manner.
Why should a residency program offer me a position? I have 18 years of demonstrated clinical competence. Board certification every six years as well as annual CME requirements indicate my ability and motivation to keep up with changes in medicine. As a family physician, I have shown that I can work well with other clinicians in providing care for my patients. Perhaps most importantly, I still want the answer to that question when confronted with a diagnostic dilemma: Why?