Hard work can teach many incredible skills, such as patience, perseverance, and, most importantly, falling in love with your work. I have been deeply fascinated by human anatomy for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would spend hours flipping through the pages of my parents’ anatomy textbooks. This curiosity, combined with a desire to care for the sick, ultimately led me to pursue a career in medicine.
The decision to pursue cross-cultural experiences in one’s medical career takes courage and an eagerness to explore new frontiers. I write this blog in hopes that some of you reading this are international medical graduates who are considering this option and will derive some inspiration from my experience. My desire to do a residency in the United States ignited as I was finishing medical school in India. The infrastructure and advancement of modern medicine in the United States and the opportunities for career development and research intrigued me.
Following graduation from medical school in Ecuador, I was determined to pursue pediatric training in the United States. After two hard years of study, while practicing medicine in an underserved community in my home country, I matched in a large pediatric residency program in Miami.
I took a few minutes from my dayshift and ran into the nearest computer station. I calculated the time difference between the Eastern Time of the United States and Beirut for the tenth time. As I opened my email I had to make sure I was not misreading the words, “Congratulations, you have matched!” it said. Between the sigh of relief and the energetic mix of emotions, I could sense the smell of formaldehyde from the anatomy lab again and I could remember the late night study sessions, and it felt strangely more familiar than ever. Three months later, my paperwork and medical license have all been approved and it was time to say goodbye to the sunny days of Beirut and to welcome new beginnings in the windy city of Chicago.
Chicago offered nothing to dislike about it. The warmth of a very culturally diverse program and the amazing city scenes helped to ease the homesickness and the challenges of my internship year. The residency years in Chicago also witnessed me fulfilling my lifetime career goal to become a hematology and oncology physician, so before I could get used to the cold winters it was time for me to embark on another move to Houston for my fellowship.