I had known since I was six years old that I wanted to be a doctor, but it was not until college when I figured out what kind of doctor I wanted to be. In the spring of my junior year of college, I had a revelation: I wanted to work with amputees. My husband Peter, who was my boyfriend at the time, was not impressed by my revelation as he said it was pretty obvious I was passionate about serving those who have had amputations. I am now lucky enough to be doing residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, learning how to optimize the lives of people after serious illnesses and injuries so they can live full lives.
But why was it so obvious to Peter? Certainly, my family’s influence played a role as my mother is a physician and my father is an amputee, but I think it goes further than that. One of the things I love about this specialty is the emphasis on physics. I remember sitting in science class in 6th grade at The Woods Academy learning about levers for the first time and how Mrs. Burke always encouraged my love of geometry and algebra. But beyond scientific knowledge, to be a good doctor you have to be a lifetime learner. The Woods Academy helps its students to become curious people, always eager to learn new things.
With all of this support to help me become the physician I am today, probably the most valuable part of The Woods education is learning to live a life of service. Medicine is a tiring profession, but if you do not lose sight of the goal to help others, it is wonderful and can be awe-inspiring. To help a woman who has recently lost her leg in a car accident, an elderly man after a severe stroke, or a college student after suffering a brain injury: this is why I love my specialty. When I greet these patients and their loved ones and give them a handshake, more often than not I get a compliment on how good my handshake is. Every time this happens, I give a silent thanks to Mrs. Piwko and all of the teachers at The Woods who have helped me become the person I am today.