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Saturday, April 20, 2024

“This is why I’m choosing to be in this field” — COVID-19 through the eyes of pre-med students

Students express how inspiring watching healthcare professionals on front lines has been

The coronavirus pandemic has likely taken a toll on most global citizens’ lives — and for some med students, this has meant graduating early to join the fight. For others, like some of UC Davis’ own pre-med students, this crisis has heightened their motivations and reminded them why they wanted to go into medicine in the first place: to help as many people as they can.

Sakira Sethi, a first-year neurology, physiology and behavior major, said this trying time for the healthcare system and its workers has inspired her to stay on the pre-med track so that she, too, can be on the front lines one day.

“If you have the bug for medicine and that’s what your passion is, you’re going to be inclined to help instead of be scared at a time like this,” Sethi said.

She knew she dreamed of being a doctor from a young age, growing up with multiple family members with health problems. Sethi explained that seeing the amazing support the healthcare system gave her family inspired her.

“I grew up with my family having a lot of health problems, and my brother has a couple mental health issues, so I was just around medicine a lot growing up,” Sethi said. “I knew that was kind of what I wanted to do: to help the people around me and to help myself as well.”

Similarly, Sean Kumar, a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology double major, also drew inspiration from his family when deciding to pursue medicine. 

“My main motivation was originally my mom,” Kumar said. “She’s a nurse, and in high school she would always allow me to shadow her and see what the doctors do. I’ve kind of grown up with this group of doctors. They’ve inspired me to also work in the medical field, and having this environment where I can learn from these people made me more motivated to go into the med field.”

Seeing what the medical “front lines” look like first-hand inspired Kumar to pursue his current medical scribe position — and medical school in the future.

Kumar has seen the reality of coronavirus in hospitals like his mother’s amid the current pandemic, which he said has made him think about his intended career path. He said, however, that instead of feeling more hesitant to pursue medicine, seeing the response of healthcare workers has further motivated him.

“It motivates me a lot more knowing that there are people willing to risk their lives for a cause like this,” Kumar said. “I wouldn’t be opposed to working the front lines. I see the work that [my mom] does and it inspired me to replicate similar work ethics in the med field so if and when I go into the med field in the future, hopefully I can do the same.”

Kumar isn’t the only one who drew inspiration from family members. Alyssa Ghose, a third-year neurology, physiology and biology major, has also gotten to see, first-hand, the work that healthcare professionals are doing at this time, as her dad is a doctor. Through her dad, Ghose said she has seen the toll that this pandemic is taking on healthcare workers. 

“I definitely see my dad going to work and being exposed to all of these patients, and he’s nervous to come home because he doesn’t know if he’s going to get it from a patient,” Ghose said. “I feel like doctors are under a lot of stress right now. I think a situation like this would kind of take a toll on mental health and wellbeing.”

Though she recognizes that this reality is something to consider — or even anticipate — when going into a medical profession, Ghose said emergency situations like this don’t deter her, saying she becomes even more motivated to pursue medicine. 

“[It] makes me more excited to be in the field and help other doctors,” she said.

Second-year human development and Spanish double major Katie Thomas agreed that the current situation has been motivational for her. She said seeing the impact doctors and medical professionals are making right now reaffirms why she decided to pursue nursing in the first place. She admitted, however, that she has also become increasingly aware of the dangers that accompany the profession.

“Both of my parents are technically high risk, so it’s definitely something I’ve been very conscious about because I want to go out into the community and help my neighbors,” Thomas said.

Thomas shared that having immunocompromised loved ones adds even more pressure to medical professionals, who might have to worry about bringing coronavirus home to their families. She said, however, that despite the risk and the fear that accompanies both her and her loved ones’ safety, this situation has only made her more motivated to pursue nursing.

“I think if you’re going into healthcare, you know to a certain extent that there is always going to be that risk,” Thomas said. “I think you have to be willing to take that and be okay with that. It does make me nervous, but it’s hard because I want to help as many people as I can.”

Overwhelmingly, these students expressed how inspiring watching the healthcare professionals on the front lines of this pandemic has been for them. Despite the fear and stress that health professionals are being placed under amidst coronavirus, Kumar said, and they all seem to agree, that these professionals have acted as reminders of why they are pursuing medicine. 

“This is why I’m choosing to be in this field,” Kumar said. “To help people in need and be on the front lines.”

Written by: Katie DeBenedetti — features@theaggie.org


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