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My Center in Medical School

Jack Frost, what is your center?

It seems a little simple – even childish – coming from a character-driven, family-friendly animation, but this line struck a reflective chord within me. Much like the Guardians in the children’s movie “Jack Frost” who protect the innocence and happiness of children, physicians protect and heal people who are helpless and in need. While the end purpose of a good physician – to effectively and compassionately care for their patients – may be common, the paths and reasons that drive us to walk this path have different and often complicated origins. At the heart of it, I believe we all have our unique “centers.”

A center is not necessarily a trait or element in which we have demonstrated excellence. It may not be something that arises under obvious circumstances. A center lies the deepest within us and shapes our positive, constructive behavior. It is the core characteristic that remains true in everything we do. If we lived in the world of animation and cartoons, I suppose it would be akin to a character theme song.

For some, their center lies in brilliance. The ability to sift through non-pertinent information and parse out the most critical pieces for problem solving enables effective and efficient diagnoses. For others, their center may lie in voice, the perseverance and bravery to serve as champions and spokesmen for their patients. For others, their center lies in compassion for suffering, their auras providing a sense of calm and empathy to all those they contact.

For the longest time, I believed that my center was curiosity. My passion for the sciences and ever-persistent hunger for knowledge drove me to pursue medicine and find happiness in what I do. With time, I started to realize that although my endless craving to learn and see more was a significant force to my character, it was relatively limited within the realm of academics. I started delving deeper beyond curiosity to extract the silver lining that strung the aspects of my person into who I am.

As I ruminate over the first year of medical school, I have come to realize while I am madly in love with neuroscience, my greatest satisfaction lies in alleviating the frustration over a difficult neuroscience concept for others rather than figuring out a complex problem myself. Above my love and curiosity for knowledge, it is the desire to provide relief or enlightenment for others that trumps all. Whether it is helping my classmates solve a technical problem, listening and helping them through hardships to the best of my ability, keeping each other relatively emotionally sane during academic crunches, or listening to patients share their time and their lives with me, all I have wanted to do is to make their already messy and complicated lives a little easier. I realized that I am most content when I can utilize my toolbox of intelligence to aid in the issue, especially when it comes to neuroscience-related topics, but I am always willing to give all I can to give a little spot of light.

And while this thread may evolve and change with time or through more self-understanding, I would like to think that my center lies in kindness. Don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of unkindness, but I would like to think the driving force that governs my actions comes from the kindness to others – to do the things, big or small, that can brighten another’s world just a little. Any effort possible, big or small, that can help create a kinder world in small ripples through my actions is what I aim achieve. Sometimes being the one to share an umbrella on a pouring day and other times putting down our overwhelming schedules to listen to someone’s words. I am definitely not be the most knowledgeable, most perceptive, most dexterous, most outspoken, or the most thoughtful student, but I hope that I always keep kindness to others in mind in all that I strive to achieve.

I have no idea if I will become a successful or “good” physician, (at least, I hope to be). However, I believe that as long as I stay true to my center, I will not be swayed or jaded by the difficulties and obstacles on this long yet rewarding path.

So, future Guardian, what is your center?

Nita Chen, MD Nita Chen, MD (39 Posts)

Medical Student Editor and in-Training Staff Member Emeritus

University of Florida Fixel Movement and Neurorestoration Institute

Nita Chen is a current movement disorders fellow at University of Florida Movement and Neurorestoration program. She is Class of 2017 medical student at Albany Medical College. To become cultural, she spent her early educational years in Taiwan and thoroughly enjoyed wonderful Taiwanese food and milk tea, thus ruining her appetite for the rest of her life in the United States. Aside from her neuroscience and cognitive science majors during her undergraduate career, she holed herself up in her room writing silly fictional stories, doodling, and playing the piano. Or she could be found spazzing out like a gigantic science nerd in various laboratories. Now she just holes up in her room to study most of the time.