It was Match Day! I’d been waiting for this day for three long years. As I opened the email with my trembling hands, I saw it. I refreshed the email to make sure it was real. I felt a roller coaster of emotions: I was elated, surprised, and relieved all at the same time. It was my dream come true. I matched to a university program in Boston. The next few days, I kept myself busy with paperwork and family celebrations. And then it hit me that I was going to leave my cocoon of comfort and move 7,984 miles away from home.
I was born and raised in Costa Rica, a small country in Central America with close to 5 million inhabitants. I was always passionate about science, and after debating for a long time, I decided to pursue training in medicine. I did my medical school in San José, Costa Rica, at the Universidad de Costa Rica. I also completed a residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Critical Care in my home country.
On March 17, 2020, our institution was designated as the nation’s first dedicated care center for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our patient population would now be only individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and required hospitalization, either from our emergency department, or from other hospitals within our network. My experience with COVID was, at that point, scarce and limited to discussions with my senior colleagues and the case reports from China and Italy.
Since I started in high school, I have been away from my home to study. At 13 years old, it was hard. Now I realize hard moments prepare you for great achievements along the way. The question is how to pass hard moments: for some of us, it is difficult to see the end prize in the beginning, because the road is multifactorial. However, the purpose of the journey is learning patience and endurance, not the destination itself. All I ever wanted was to do good, affect good, make a positive impact. We all should start walking with purpose, with good intentions. The destination may be different than initially thought, but it might be even better than our dreams.