Anesthesiology Resident

West Virginia University School of medicine

​Ross univeristy school of medicine

Drafted for NRMP residency match: Feb 2019

On my first day of my Internal Medicine rotation I was in the middle of doing the medical student dance - you know the one - where the student tries to look busy, read every chart, help the nurses and get out of the attending’s way. I was mid-dance when Dr. Singh, my attending, tells me to forget everything I know; there’s only one requirement in his office, “Touch everyone. Every. Body.”

I hadn’t quite experienced my growth spurt when I was 14 years-old, but my small wiry frame couldn’t hide my obsession for mechanics. With that passion, I approached the owner of the only automotive shop in my small Idaho hometown and demanded a job – my voice cracked. It’s worth noting that a 14 year-old Idahoan can get their drivers’ license if they are employed in a “commercial
capacity” (usually interpreted “farmer”). Little did I know, he’d hire me on the spot. If someone called for [automotive] help in Southern Idaho when I wasn’t in school or ski racing, wiry me would show up - alone - in a tow truck or an 18-wheeler to help them out. This was my first taste of providing help to those who had found themselves in need. Although I would be lying if I claimed those coffee-stained tweed seats and country music in an old 18-wheeler had inspired me outright to pursue medicine.

After driving that big rig for a few years in high school, I discovered something I found ridiculous: I could get paid to pass on my love of the mountains and skiing as a professional mountain guide and ski instructor. Again, if I wasn’t in class, I was the curator of an outdoor experience for a person or family from hours to days on end. This was my first taste of chaperoning others through both tremendous and sometimes difficult times, whether strapped to skis, tied into a harness on a cliff’s edge, or declaring water safe-to-drink.

Meanwhile - while I was in class - I had discovered a love of biology that I couldn’t ignore. As the love of biology outgrew my need for the outdoors, I followed a career path into biotechnology and pharmaceutical research. I found a new me that published in Nature and Cell and traveled internationally as a featured presenter at conferences. But the posters and podiums left me yearning to regain the personal attachment with humans I once enjoyed.

The yearning for change was clarified for me after one particular cold snowy night, deep in the mountains on icy Idaho dirt roads when my good friend, his truck, and I lost control and slid to the side of the road in time to be hit by another out-of-control truck. After wrapping his crushed unconscious body in most of my clothes, I hiked as quickly as I could to cell phone service. A helicopter took us to a hospital where I would sleep by his side for weeks while he rested in a coma. The men and women in scrubs I met over those weeks shared with me their past lives as skiers and hikers and researchers. It was clear that my love of biology was about to find a new home... in scrubs.

In medical school, teaching, learning and adventures continued as a I was a full-time tutor, a clinical skills instructor, and president of our Emergency Medicine organization. The exploring continued in Salybia, an outreach group aiming to provide medical care to the native people of Dominica. The adventures continued further as I learned to sail an old used sloop around the Lesser Antilles surrounding Dominica. Connections with my fellow humans grow better and better as I walked through each patient’s door and pull aside each curtain.

“I get it”, I thought to myself, days after my attending’s “touch everybody” statement sank in. I’ve been on an adventure for thirty years. I love nothing more than going on a journey with everyone I share time with, usually a journey that involves learning, growing or healing. I’ve been literally tied to someone for days. I’ve knocked on a patient’s door and spoke with them for 5 minutes. I am one of the luckiest persons in the world to have the opportunity to share time with all of these people. If we want to or not, if it’s physical or otherwise, we touch everyone.