If I could tell my beginning of college, Freshman year self something, it would be that while it is incredibly important to put yourself out there and get involved on campus, sometimes the best experience and opportunities just come naturally and organically. For instance, I wasted much time first semester forcing myself to go to clubs I only had a little interest in, and none are methods of involvement I plan on continuing next year. The student org I resonated most with, however, and the one I will continue to be involved in, started with a random conversation with a friend about the first meeting that same day, of which I attended almost last minute. I have always been a planner, but I have learned this year that sometimes, good experiences or casual reunions with friends come naturally in any given day. It’s not necessarily winging it through college, but just being open to try things sporadically. With a campus this large and this diverse in activities and people, it really isn’t as hard as I thought to have opportunities come to you, instead of you feverishly seeking those opportunities. As I start my second year in the Fall, I will keep this advice in mind, and continue to be open to discovery on campus.
The primary step I will take in my future as a health professional in understanding the needs of people in recovery/with addiction will be to gain wider understanding of addiction prevalence in whatever area I end up working in; since 10% of Americans will at some point develop a substance use disorder, it is important one who treats the addicted understands the relevance of substance abuse in their own community. I could achieve this through volunteering in organizations that work with individuals recovering from addiction. I believe this is the most direct way to gain a better understanding of patients who suffer from addiction, as it is a concept likely touched on less in medical education, and it is a disorder which simply cannot be ignored or assumed will not affect one’s patients, given the 10% statistic.
Additionally, students at large public school’s such as UofM who are from upper-class backgrounds who were before coming to college immersed in well-off communities (as I was) may fail to respect or even realize the prevalence of addiction recovery at their colleges, and may associate this rising issue with other communities or colleges entirely (an ignorant outlook in its own right). However, as the presentation from this school’s very own recovery program highlights, no place is completely free from addiction, also developing the idea that addiction is often a “silent” illness where individuals who are suffering are afraid to reveal their issues, due to the aforementioned stigma placed on being addicted at such a high-ranking University. I know many individuals on campus deeply involved in alcohol and drugs, and I also know students who have changed and challenged how they handle alcohol and drugs; not only do I have more respect for these individuals, but I will also strive to be more conscious and willing to help others who may be going through the same process.
Do you know any individuals on campus dealing with substance abuse, or recovering? Do you feel you have a better understanding of the process these people are going through now?
I have experienced a great amount of personal growth and knowledge through this semester in HSSP. A major factor in this growth is how the learning community has impacted my first college semester in general; I faced a lot of challenges and learned many lessons this semester, and HSSP provided a support network of great people with passions similar to mine to make every challenge worthwhile. The relationships I’ve made in the past three months are ones I will cherish for the remainder of my college career and beyond. In short, I am proud of this community itself; we are a bright group of pre-health individuals who are an excellent representation of this university’s standards, diversity, and work ethic. As I will be less busy next semester with other commitments, I hope to enhance my connection to this very important community instead of at times going through the motions. I will play a more vocal role in HSSP events, and seek to better comprehend the knowledge of speakers.
Additionally, I am equally proud of the insight I gained into the environment, problems, and implications of professional health careers worldwide. For someone who has known they wanted to be a medical professional for such a long time, I knew so little about inequities and racism in the medical workspace, global health, and the history of healthcare itself. HSSP has given me great knowledge into these topics, and has ultimately given me an idea of how I can strive to be the best doctor I wish to become. What once seemed like a straight-forward occupation is now much more complex.
In my letter to myself, I wrote about how to take on challenges directly and stay motivated this semester; I knew then that this semester would be difficult, but the perseverance I was able to show is a principle I will apply to my path to a medical career in the next months, and even years.
A long-term goal of many is to have a career or lifestyle that allows them to positively affect the lives of thousands of people. I don’t consider myself to be one of these individuals. Through important experiences with friends and family, my travels around the world in the past decade, and the struggles I’ve overcome with the help of others, I have come to understand the value I find in fostering strong, personal relationships with a closely-knit community of individuals. These relationships have shaped me into the person I am today, and it is the primary reason I am pursuing a medical career in the future. When I die, I want to be remembered not by the masses, but by a very select group of individuals whose lives I greatly impacted.
While I strive to make people laugh and help those around me daily, I don’t just want to be remembered as someone who is comical or empathetic. I want to continue to build on relationships I have made now, years into the future. I want to be someone who was not just there for a person for a few weeks, but for years. Being a doctor would mean forming incredibly close relationships and creating lives that individuals can live with happiness and strength, well after mine comes to an end.
And if people also remember me as the guy who wore cool socks, never ate a bagel untoasted or played music too loud in the car… that’d be fine as well.