by Dennis J. Warfield, Jr., MD
As a child I always had an interest in medicine. I wanted a career where I was able to help people all the time. Combined with my curiosity for science and the desire to prove things, medicine became my calling and the best career for me.
Today, I have a medical degree from American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) and I’m currently completing residency in anesthesiology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson. My responsibilities include providing anesthesia services for general surgeries, specialty cases, off-site ambulatory procedures, responding to traumas and code situations and being a leader in perioperative care.
As I recount how my childhood dream turned into a reality, I realize there were six factors that helped me get to where I am today. They can apply to anyone aspiring to achieve their ideal career.
Strong Support System: My family was very supportive of me choosing medicine as my career. They backed me the entire way no matter how hard the path was ahead. If it weren’t for my family and friends being there for me the whole time, I don't think I would have made it. They were always available when I needed something, whether it was here in the United States or in St. Maarten where I conducted the first two years of my medical education. They were a great support group that I could always count on! To this day, I still maintain a lot of my relationships that I created at AUC; they will forever be friends and colleagues.
Commitment to Learning: During medical school, there were long nights of studying – for months on end. Studying for the different examinations seems like that was all I did during my waking hours – to the point where the library staff knew me by name and knew my story.
Strategy for Success: At the end of medical school at AUC, I applied for both general surgery and anesthesia residency positions. My first year of residency was an internship in general surgery at Nassau University Medical Center, the same hospital where I conducted my two years of clinical training as a medical student. Being there as a student definitely helped the transition into residency; attending a program where I was already familiar with the faces, hospital system and processes. To walk into a place for residency where I have already been for the last two years positioned me for success.
Investment of Time: To become a physician you can’t rush the process. At this point, I have two more years of training to go – my final year of residency and then a one-year fellowship to follow. In all, I will have completed four years of college (I received my undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut), four years of medical school, four years of residency and a yearlong fellowship.
Remembering Why: You have to love what you do. If you don't love what you do, you'll never achieve your dreams. It takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice. Whether it was when I was a medical student providing assistance or now as a physician providing care first-hand, everything is put into perspective when a patient pulls through. All the past experiences come to realization and makes the time put in well worth it.
Keeping an Open Mind: Attending medical school in the Caribbean is not the conventional path for the average medical student. However, I knew a friend at AUC who informed me of his experiences. After doing some research I decided to apply. Once attending, I quickly learned that the faculty and students at AUC were friendly, knowledgeable and provided a very conducive environment to learning. It wasn't that stereotypical atmosphere where everybody is extremely competitive. In general, AUC works together as a community to prove the group as a whole helping everyone achieve their goals, and that's something very unique and special.
Posted October 12, 2016 09:25 AM