In May of 2017 I donned wizard-like robes, walked onto a stage, received a diploma and doctoral hood, and became a Doctor of Medicine. Even a month later those three words still evoke excitement. Doctor of Medicine. Graduation weekend was full of so many happy emotions, but the most consistent thought I had was this: It was worth it.
Graduating medical school fits into Mr. DA’s top 5 most satisfying life events.
Mr. DA’s Top 5 Most Satisfying Life Events
- Meeting and marrying Mrs. DA. The best thing I have ever done.
- Serving a full time LDS Church mission. Two years full of miracles, growth, humbling experiences, and love for my fellow humans.
- Learning that my mother is cancer free. Sadly not everyone experiences the same happy outcome, and my heart goes out to them.
- Matching to my dream ophthalmology residency
- Graduating medical school.
I used to think it was really cheesy that actors gave lengthy thank-you speeches upon receiving an award. Yet all graduation weekend I kept feeling the urge to publicly thank the people in my life who have gotten me to this point. Since I never got the opportunity to give a tear-filled speech to a star-studded audience, I instead have the honor of shouting my thanks into the interwebs.
Mrs. DA is my rock. If anyone’s name deserves to be on that diploma it is hers. If I could live a thousand different lives I would marry her every time. She has supported and encouraged me every step of the way. She sacrificed so many aspects of her life to follow this crazy medical dream. Even my worst days in the hospital ended on a heavenly note because I got to come home to her. Not only did she support me emotionally but she has also supported me financially. She achieved her own dreams of becoming a nurse and then worked hard to quench the tide of student loans. At every turn and obstacle she has stood by my side, unflinching. The difficult obstacles of medical training taught us to rely on each other, and our lives intertwined and reinforced each other. Because of her, medical school has been the happiest years of my life. I am not myself without her. With her by my side I know that I can tackle residency training.
My family deserves a huge thanks as well. When I told them I wanted to be an accountant they said, “Great!”. When I told them I was switching my major to political science they said, “Great!”. When I told them I was switching my major again to computer science they said, “Great!”. When I told them I was switching my major to environmental science and was going to apply to medical school they said, “Great!”. Even as a child they encouraged me to think for myself and explore hobbies that I was interested in. Trumpet. Piano. Mountain Biking. Ski Racing. Scouting. Camping. Fishing. Motorcycling. They loved me and filled me with confidence. My parents taught their children, sacrificed for their children, and explored the world with their children. If I become like my parents then I will have done something right in my life.
My in-laws also deserve the highest gratitude. They have only known me for five and a half years, yet they have made me their son. I am continually humbled by their instant and full inclusion of me into their family. They have supported me in so many ways, and have gone out of their way to understand the intricacies of the medical match, step 1, the MCAT, the application process, and so many other things. At this point they can probably tell you more about how to become a doctor than I can. They will never know how much I look up to them, love them, and have learned from them. It is a well studied fact that having a loving and supportive family is an advantage in life, and I am lucky enough to have two.
I would like to thank my friends. When we moved far away from home to attend medical school we knew zero people in the area. Yet we were instantly befriended by families in our new congregation, students at school, and neighbors. We barbecued together, learned how to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie together, biked thousands of miles together, camped, fished, celebrated holidays, repaired cars, commiserated about school, caught a raccoon, welcomed new babies into our circle, cried in the ICU, gathered for yearly friendsgiving, and the list goes on and on. Why did I become a doctor? People. And these people are the best.
And finally I would like to thank the patients and faculty that had the patience and kindness to teach me. I literally could not have done it without you. So thank you. Thank you for allowing this medical student to examine you, poke you, prod you, and ask you a zillion questions. When you were sick, uncomfortable, and even dying, you still sacrificed a part of your day for me. I thank you and I honor you.