Every college graduate knows The Question: the one every aunt, uncle, grandparent, or even estranged second cousin asks. It’s the “What’s next?” What are you doing after college? What career are you looking to pursue? Thankfully, I have had my answer at the ready since high school. I wanted to go to medical school and become a physician. However, upon graduating in 2021, my answer garnered an unexpected response from my uncle and a few more of my relatives. When I told him about my dream, he responded with concern (and frankly a bit of disgust), saying, “Why?”
Two years later, I still think about that response. At the time, it made sense. We were neck-deep in a pandemic that taught the nation what many people already knew in healthcare: the system is overworked, overburdened, and overstressed. I spent my entire senior year hearing horror stories from overflowing emergency rooms to understaffed critical care units. My uncle’s reservation was simply out of concern for me, yet it threw into question the entire four years I spent in college, as well as the next two I planned to use to gain experience and apply to medical school. Was I really doing the right thing? Or had I made a mistake choosing a profession that faces so many challenges?
Thankfully, I started that next month working with Practicing Excellence as an intern. What I thought would only be a few months in the summer turned into a two-year position in which I met, collaborated with, and learned from a wide array of professionals, all united in one goal: making healthcare better. I’ve met clinician faculty with years of experience under their belt who join Practicing Excellence to share their expertise with other clinicians. I’ve had conversations with healthcare leaders who are driven to find tools that drive positive outcomes for their teams. I’ve heard stories from coworkers about their own experiences in medicine, positive and negative, that motivate them to work towards better.
What inspires me the most is that all of these people did not have to do this but deliberately chose to partner with or work for a company dedicated to tackling healthcare’s greatest issues. From burnout to workplace violence, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and everything in between, I’ve seen good people stand together to make a difference, and that provides me with a great deal of hope.
Now, as my time at Practicing Excellence comes to a close, and I start my next journey at Loma Linda Medical School, I have an answer ready to the question, “Why medicine?” Because I know there are amazing individuals out there who see, just as well as I do, how awesome it is to be a part of something greater. And those people are dedicated to making healthcare as great as it can be for kids like me, looking to join in the future. I go now knowing that, yes, things aren’t ideal, but there is hope for change.
Wherever I go, I know that seeing the Practicing Excellence logo will always evoke a sense of pride. Not only because of the great things that they’re doing but also because of the people I’ve come to know who are striving day in and day out to make healthcare better–not just for a select few, but for everyone.
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Ryan Kenney is our Marketing Analyst, managing our knowledge center and running our new show, Conversations over Coffee. An aspiring physician, Ryan looks forward to working every day as there is so much to learn and understand about the current status of health care in the US.