Today, I participated in a cable television show that centered around Women's Studies and the Empowerment of Women. I had been asked to speak with this group about influences in my life and my decision to attend medical school. I was asked to speak about how my family has influenced me and my achievements.
I entered a television studio/classroom that was filled with women from their 20s into their 60s. There was one gentleman present too as men can find much to learn by taking a Women's Studies course. At the end of my talk, he asked very probing questions. I had the good fortune to take a Men's Studies course as an undergraduate which to this day, as a female in a male-dominated specialty, has proved more than useful. I gained great insight and understanding about what it means to be a male in today's society.
I spoke to the class about the influences of my parents, most notably my mother, who had definite ideas about the education of her children. She simply wanted the best and instilled a love of learning in all of us at a very early age. My father loved to read, write and hold forth political discussions with the family at the evening meal. These discussions were some of my richest childhood memories and the launching ground for my career. My father didn't care which side of an argument we took, as long as we could defend our argument with logic.
My uncle, a cardiologist, always challenged us to seek new "truths". He loved research and loved scientific discussion of any manner. He plays classical piano and speaks several languages. In addition, he is a painter and fiction-writer. He inherited the gift of communication that runs throughout my family. At age 70, he decided to study karate with a Kem-Po master.
I spoke of my aunt, who after being disabled with multiple sclerosis, went on to board certification in two specialties, pediatrics and neurology. She practiced medicine full-time until one year before her death at age 72. She loved her patients and they loved her in return. I would accompany her to national meetings and courses as her note taker. It was wonderful to discuss neurology cases and reap the benefits of her keen diagnostic talents.
I spoke of my cousin who at age 58, who is a practicing pediatric neurosurgeon, decided that she wanted to attend law school. He father has been an attorney and she loved the fine logic of his many arguments and discussion. She graduated from law school and practices both law and neurosurgery. She loved her law studies and loves her patients even more. She was the first person to show me the fine points of doing a lumbar puncture. I carry that technique with me today.
The main points that I wanted my audience to realize that that if they have a goal, it becomes real as soon as they imagine it. There are millions of resources available in this country today for achieving your dreams. If you knock on enough doors, one of them will open and you WILL get what you want. You keep your eyes on your goal and you alter your strategy to achieve your goal as this makes life in the United States better than any other country on earth. If you want to achieve here, you can.
The only person whose thoughts about your goals and dreams that matters is you. What you think about your life and your dream will become the truth for you. Alter your thinking and you alter your life. My father always said "If something is not working, fix it". "If you can't fix it, then get rid of it". This was his way of telling me to figure out what I need to do to always do my best and to run my own race.
My mother always said that it takes just as much time to do a task poorly as it does to do a task well. "You might as well have done it the right way and saved time", she would always remind us. In your studies, in your work, and in your dreams, give yourself the best effort. You may not find perfection but you can look back with pride in your work.
In sharp contrast to the young women that I spoke with the past weekend, the older women were empowered. In turn, they empowered me. To touch one life, to inspire one person, is a great feeling. Yes, I love my work in medicine and surgery but I love meeting the wonderful people that this job has placed before me even more.