Written by Karl as his personal statement before cancer.

When people ask me what inspired me to study medicine, I look back on one single night almost ten years ago. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Driving through Detroit in a pouring Midwestern thunderstorm, my brother and I saw a pickup truck get cut off in front of us. As the truck swerved, the driver lost control and slammed into the middle barrier of the expressway. My brother, an EMT, immediately pulled over, and we ran forward to see if the passengers were alright. We quickly found out that they both had severe spinal injuries and probably some broken bones as well. I jumped in the bed of the truck to hold C-spine through the back window on the man in the passenger seat while my brother worked on the driver’s vital signs. It seemed like an eternity as we sat in the rain waiting for the ambulance; talking to our patients to try to keep their hopes alive. When it finally arrived, time shifted to fast forward. Both victims were backboarded and loaded in the ambulance with unbelievable efficiency. The paramedics closed the back doors, quickly thanked us for the help, and drove off into the rain.

Since that night I have thought a lot about what happened to my first two patients. I often wish that I would have been in a capacity to help them more effectively and be apart of their treatment options. Over the last decade that curiosity in healthcare has evolved into a commitment. What started off as participation in various medically related extra curricular activities has grown to now include participation in health care delivery in five different countries. In each of these encounters, I have always been amazed by the incredible difference medicine makes for those who have never had the privilege to access it. I have worked through tense situations with patients’ families as a Patient Representative in a Detroit ER; assisted in over 50 surgeries as a Scrub Technician in Honduras; and seen the importance of patient education on a Caribbean island rampant with diabetes. However, like the accident, many of these experiences have not allowed me to see patients through their complete treatment regimens. It was not until my Internal Medicine rotation that I really found an area of medicine where I could be apart of a patient’s hospital stay from start to finish.

Throughout my medicine rotation, I thrived on being given the opportunity to take admissions from the ER. To me it meant that I would see them the first day they started in the hospital and would have the privilege to follow them all the way to discharge. Not only would we manage their present complaint, but numerous other co-morbidities such as diabetes, COPD, and heart failure as well. Focusing in on one illness would lead to missing another, and I find managing the whole patient in these situations the most rewarding experience in medicine.

I have strived to find residency programs that utilize comprehensive teaching methodologies to train physicians to effectively deliver medicine to diverse populations. A broad, multi-cultural approach gives residents a foundation for their medical careers creating caring, compassionate physicians who will be prepared to face future challenges and obstacles. Using the skills gained in residency in combination with my international exposure, I will be able to achieve my goal of giving back to society through global humanitarian aid organizations. I look forward to the day when I can work alongside the health professionals that I have witnessed changing the world, one patient at a time.