Sunday, May 30, 2010

Five Simple Questions

This post, though from my previous blog, really sums the whole thing up. Without further ado, minus the music therapy bits, here's my story. Answered in five simple questions.

As I'm sure many of you have seen if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I have a newly established goal. This is a dream that has really never come to the forefront of my mind simply because I've doubted my abilities. While continuing to do a little bit of that, as is natural with ne situations and fresh changes, I have decided that I will achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. The branch of medicine in which I would like to specialize is one of the best laid plains I've seen to-date. I remember being a toddler and telling my doctors that one day, I would be one of them. And I can't wait to tell them that the dream I've waited for has always come true. I have several dreams, as does everyone, but this one is my ultimate dollhouse dream. I've felt as though everything else I was aspiring to do was just "the next best thing" to what I really, in my heart of hearts, felt was my calling. Now, I completely understand. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, my calling to become a doctor.

The math and science requirements to be admitted to medical school scare me. I know that my brain wasn't "wired" to take that many courses in such difficult subjects, but where there's a will, there's a way. I have a meeting with a pre-medical adviser later on this month, so I can adequately prepare for the discussion to eloquently express my fears, my excitements, and my concerns.

The field of medicine that I hope to enter is one that many of you, involved in the lives of individuals with special needs, will come across in the future, or it may be one that you have come across already. Physical medicine and rehabilitation is a field of medicine that focuses on maintaining the quality of life of a person with a disability, disease, or illness. For example, the doctors that many of you have come across have been neurologists. Your neurologist (primarily in the pediatric field) has given you opinions, made decisions, and administered treatments in attempts to improve the condition of your child or loved one. As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, otherwise known as a physiatrist, I will be charged with helping patients to maintain a patient's condition by developing pain management plans, assisting patients to achieve proper nutrition, partnering with allied therapists to facilitate rehabilitation, and many other similar tasks.

Music therapy is directly related to PM&R due to the fact that it is an allied therapy, so my undergraduate degree won't be neglected by any means, and I'm so thankful for that! Who knows? I may become the doctor known for using music with patients in exam rooms!

Before I take you on the wild ride that is this journey, I bet I know five questions that you will have, so let me attempt to answer them for you now.

Who? This question really has a three-part answer. The first part of the answer is that I feel as though my heart has played the biggest role in my decision, which is a wonderful thing. It's very often, though, that I have an inner battle of head vs. heart because of the difficulties that I face, be it physically, academically, or virtually any aspect of the process, but I have to say that confidence is slowly building, and I am continually seeing indicators that this is just what I have wanted to do. It's the biggest decision I've ever made. The second part to the answer is that I've been exposed to the workings of the medical field for nearly twenty years, and I feel as though my personal experiences will be the biggest asset that I will have to offer patients. In addition, I feel as though I will really become motivated to explore academic areas that have really turned me off in the past and that the experiences will allow me to develop stronger coping mechanisms for use when I encounter difficult situations. Thirdly, as you all well know, people have a great influence on me. Just take Dr. MT, for example. My mentor is McDoc, brimcmike, Dr. Mc, you know, he has several names. His story is incredible and is one worth reading. He may guest blog for us one of these days!

What? Physical medicine and rehabilitation deals with restoring maximum function after an injury, an injury that is related to a disability, or an injury related to illness. One thing that greatly appeals to me in terms of PM&R is that the treatments executed by the physicians is very holistic insofar as the physician is charged with examining the whole individual rather than single affected areas and/or symptoms. The field, in general, is also a strong proponent of allied therapies, which include, but are not limited to, music therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. I feel as though PM&R is the top of the top in terms of the things I have wanted to do with my life. PM&R is an extension of my "dollhouse dream," and I couldn't be more excited.

When? I have three and a half more years (7 semesters) left of my undergraduate degree, but with the credits that I plan to obtain in the summer sessions and Maynester sessions, it may cut down on the time. I will continue working on both the pre-medical requirements and music therapy requirements and may work as a graduate assistant or employee of the university while finishing my pre-medical requirements. I will have to wait until I talk to the pre-medical advisers, but for now, my projected graduation date is December 2013, and I would like for it to stay that way if it possibly can. I would then apply for jobs and for medical school, and wait it out. I think that if I take the courses as soon as I can before the MCAT, it will result in a better score. I'm so motivated.

Where? As you may know, it is my dream to attend Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. During my time there, I hope to observe at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and find a residency, hopefully with McDoc, in Boston. I want medical school to be adventurous; I want it to be a time where I can discover my independence thousands of miles away from familiarity, and I want it to be the most rewarding experience of my life, no matter where I am.

Why? I feel as though the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation is at "the top of the food chain" in terms of the things that I have aspired to do and be during my lifetime. Special education, music therapy, etc. Everything I have ever done has been related in some way to the field, and I feel as though this is the best way possible to give back to the ones who have saved my life and who have been there for me since birth and before then. I feel as though the credibility that will hopefully be attained as a result of my becoming a doctor will assist in the encouraging patients to achieve and fulfill their hopes goals, and dreams.

How? The answer to this one is simple for now. I will finish out my undergraduate degree and take my certification exam for music therapy and then will take a weekend course to get certified in neurologic music therapy. Depending on whether or not I am able to finish the requirements for medical school in 4 1/2 - 5 years, I will find a job and return to school part time to finish the courses and apply to medical school. As far as physical issues are concerned, Dr. DeLisa has wonderful comments regarding physicians with disabilities and the way that they are perceived in medical school and beyond. So, for now, I will focus on doing the best I can in my classes and worry about the little, nit-picky things when the time comes.

I am so excited to see what happens with this journey, and if you have any further curiosities, please do not hesitate to contact me!

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