“I am in my fourth year of residency in general surgery and I work in a trauma unit in an emergency room. I went to med school because I was infatuated with the heart and cardiac disease and wanted to be a cardiologist. Then I went to Liberia in West Africa on a medical mission trip and that was my first exposure to the operating room. I was fascinated with surgery and seeing a problem be acutely fixed. Someone comes in with a problem and I can cut that out for them. They are fixed and feel better. My mom felt like I was going to be a doctor so I rebelled and tried to consider everything else but this. I don’t think she has said ‘I told you so,’ yet, but she should.
In the beginning, I was wowed by seeing surgery. It becomes systematic as you do it and learn the steps. From the outside, it may look chaotic, but from the inside, everyone has a role in what is next. Being a trauma surgeon forces me to be on my toes and still be calm all of the time. Even if I am a little freaked out on the inside, I can’t show it because the team is relying on me to know what to do.
We recently started Project Inspire to be more involved in the community with injury prevention. We want to steer teenagers and young adults from decisions that put them at risk for trauma. A lot of trauma can be avoided, like not texting and driving, drinking and driving, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, hanging with the wrong crowd, not playing with guns. We focus on kids who are at-risk and have already had some involvement with law enforcement. We show them what could happen when they get shot or in a car accident. We do the scared straight approach the first day, the rest of the three weeks is dedicated to inspiring and help them identify their interests and a path to get there. We want to set them up with long-term mentors in the community. They can shadow people in the hospital. They also become certified in CPR. They also get to see the morgue.
My goal is to do more medical missions in Africa. I want to help build a hospital and train the locals to continue to care for people after we leave. I chose the program in Mobile because they were already affiliated with a hospital in Rwanda. I am going there in February. I also went to Honduras this year. A lot of surgical residencies don’t give you the freedom to go to other places like this. When I go to these places, I go there to help, but I am more impacted by their stories and strength and how they maintain happiness with just the bare essentials. They have surgery and go home with no pain medication. They are so grateful that people care about them.”