When I met Dr. Tracy Sax, it had been 3 years since I had given up my dream of becoming a doctor. I had taken an introductory Biology course and felt that I was not capable of doing the work it would take to achieve that goal. I expected this Winter Shadow to give me certainty that I was not interested in work as a clinician, particularly as an MD. As happens often in life, I got the exact opposite.
The dream was reawakened in a Pete's Coffee shop in North Portland. I sat down with Tracy Sax to do some introductions and preliminary instruction before the Shadow began. Her enthusiasm for what she did stood out to me in a way I don't see often. At first it scared me because I worried that my first bad experience with Biology leaving me with no passion for the field said something about me as a student. I thought if I couldn't make it through that there was no way I'd make it through medical school. But she was so encouraging, without even knowing me she encouraged me to go into medicine. Her enthusiasm was infectious.
We dealt with some really emotionally taxing material and I was proud of the way I handled that. I sat in on a session during which we preliminarily diagnosed a young man with ALS. I have felt confident in my potential as a clinical psychologist and this demonstrated that in this field, doctors get an opportunity to run tests and diagnose patients but also help them cope with these diagnoses, if only for a little while. Tracy handled the conversation in a personal and professional way. I learned that neurology is a field that could allow for a combination of my interests and skills in psychology.
For two weeks this winter, I shadowed Dr. Dan Michaels in the La Jolla Village Family Medical Group. As a student interested in pursuing medical school after Reed, I was thrilled for this opportunity. This experience exceeded my expectations and has left me more excited than ever for my future.
Every day of my shadow, I followed the day-to-day work of Dr. Michaels. This work included seeing patients, refilling prescriptions, following up with patients about test results, and dealing with pesky pharmaceutical representatives. As I had expected, the work life of a primary care physician was busy. In addition to annual exams, the patients we saw included people with sore throats, stomach pains, aching muscles, addiction concerns, and surgery follow ups. The variety was exciting and Dr. Michael’s grace leaping from case to case was impressive.
In each appointment, Dr. Michael’s would open the door and recite, “I have a student that would like to stand by. Is that alright with you?” With the exception of two patients, I was graciously welcomed as the patient appeared flattered to be considered an interesting case and eagerly allowed me to learn from their body. In these rooms, I was honored to be a part of these patients’ lives in even the smallest way, whether that meant offering a sympathetic glance as they shared their frustrations with weight loss, holding the hand of a brave patient going through a tough point in their health, or simply thanking the individual for trusting me with these details in their life.
I’ve loved animals ever since I was a little girl. Bugs, lizards, squirrels, frogs- you name it. And of course, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always replied that I wanted to be a veterinarian. After all, what job could be better than one where you got to play with animals all day and make them feel better? Once I turned thirteen, I left this childhood dream behind for more realistic pursuits. Like becoming a physicist (hahaha). I couldn’t dissociate being a vet from my childish (and therefore naïve) fantasy of it. It took me a while before I started listening to that little girl again, but this time I was determined to base my decision about what to study and do with my life on something more substantial than “really liking animals”. This is where Dr. Chris (a Reed graduate!) at the Gresham Animal Hospital came into play.
The Reed Financial Service Fellowship was an engaging experience where I got to explore questions that have been at the back of my mind with regards to a career in the Financial Sector. I aggregate these questions into two: “what does it means to work in the financial sector?” and on a more reflective note, “Am I cut out for such an industry?” It is accurate to say that my intent to find answers to these questions gave structure to my fellowship experience. This trip to New York happens to be my first ever, and it was an incredible experience. The buildings were so tall that even a complete upward tilt of my cervical vertebrae wasn’t enough to show me their apex, and in a day I saw as many people in the subway as I had seen in a year in Portland! That was my level of bewilderment when I got to New York.
Lydia Kerns, class of 2016
Reedies: Intellectuals in a purified form, dedicated to study and learning for its own internal value, blissfully segregating education from career, and proud to scoff when asked to justify their investment in learning with some claim to its practical application. For four years, Reedies live in a sanctuary where the transcendent value from the sharing of ideas is reward enough, and any mundane outcome of education beyond the pleasure of pursuing knowledge is of secondary importance. That’s the stereotype, at least.
The question, often posed by parents, “But what are you going to DO with that major?” may be met with a shrug or a sigh, but the undertones of the question carry the notes of a larger question, one that lives in the minds of Reedies and uncertain friends and family alike: How are you going to be successful?
The question is complex and subjective but also universal, held by a majority of Reedies and associated parties. What does it mean to be a successful Reedie? How can we make the most of our scholarship at Reed, staying true to our love of “learning for the sake of learning,” while also growing into individuals who can consider ourselves successful in the world beyond Reed?