Saturday, April 12, 2008

> Dr. H,
> I am currently a freshman at Harvey Mudd. I'm considering a career in
> medicine because I'm very interested in the human body and in
> practical ways of fixing its problems. Professor Haushalter gave me
> your email address, saying you might be able to give important
> insight. At this point, I have not by any means decided that medicine
> is what I want to do with my life; it's just one of many options I'm
> mulling over. I don't have any specific questions yet, but if you
> would oblige me, I'd be very interested in hearing a little about what
> life is like for someone pursuing a career in medicine. If you have
> any tips as to how I might get a better idea whether this path would
> work for me, I would greatly appreciate those as well.
> Thanks,

There is so much diversity in medicine itself that you could probably find a niche that you are interested in. I'd like to know a little more about yourself regarding what your motivations are in coming to Mudd and medicine.

A little bit about myself and my journey and the pitfalls along the way.

When I first came to Mudd, I wanted to be a scientist but never really considered medicine as a career. I was torn between biology and chemistry, but what sold me was when I talked to Dr. Purves (former chair of dept) and had a long talk about the lac operon and molecular biology.

I was definitely not prepared for the rigorous curriculum at Mudd. I'm not sure what the curve now is at Mudd, but when I was there in the late 90s it was around a B-. My first year I did slightly above average, except for physics for which I got a C+ (had an awful physics class in high school). Partly due to pride, I decided to take a physics class over the summer to prepare me for E&M. This random act probably helped me get into medical school.

After doing research in plant biology, I felt that this was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I enjoyed research immensely, but I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. At the end of my sophomore year, I decided to look into medicine.

One of the best things about Mudd is the intellectual firepower, strong honor code, camraderie, and lifelong friendships. I loved the place, and it was definitely the place for me. However, like I alluded to earlier grades was probably the reason why I didn't get in on my first try. I also lacked some of the volunteer work that most other premeds had done. It also didn't help that there wasn't anyone who knew the byzantine application system.

Once you get into medical school, you'll find it to be a piece of cake compared to Mudd. I found the first 2 years to be very easy. I did study hard, but all you need to do is to memorize everything in the lecture and do old exams.

After going through medicine and residency, I realized that what drives me is a combination of patient care and research. Looking back, Mudd is THE perfect place for someone who wants to be a physician-scientist. I'd like to understand how cells respond to injury (in particular the nephron) from the immune system's point of view. On the side, I'd like to be a transplant nephrologist. It has been a long road (graduated in 1998), but the light is at the end of the tunnel.

The hard part is finding the entrance of the tunnel.