The choice of a lifetime

By: Hannah Stafford, high school alumna High School Study Abroad, Health + Medicine

How does one choose what they want to pursue in life? Some people have had their hearts set on one specific career since childhood. Others, including me, have to go out and experience life first hand in order to make a decision. Certain experiences have opened my mind, and made me start thinking about my future. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I finally came up with a general idea of what I want to become. This vision of mine isn’t perfectly clear, and is still in the development stage, but I now know that I want to pursue a career in the Health Sciences field.

An academic trip to Belize in 2008 first sparked my interest in a profession related to medicine. The purpose of this trip was twofold: to master the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, which focused on wilderness and traditional medicine; and to familiarize us with public health in a developing country. The course consisted of intensive lectures and simulations in which 11 other students and I acted out real-life medical situations, such as plane crashes and car accidents. I learned about anaphylaxis, wound management, CPR, dislocations, and so much more. The biggest thrill of the trip was applying the skills I had just learned, by working in a clinic hosted by my travel group. I applied my knowledge from the course to help diagnose patients and then create specific treatment plans. With a doctor’s help, I prescribed the necessary medications and hand-delivered them to the patients. The clinic was the most exciting part because I witnessed the direct impact that I was making on people’s lives.

What sparked my interest, and made me start thinking about a career in the medical field, was discovering that there are endless opportunities for interaction with others. I’m the type of person who needs to have an interactive career, not one in which I sit in a cubicle, isolated from the world around me. The hands-on aspect and the interaction with people got me hooked. I liked speaking with patients face-to-face and seeing the effect I had on them. It was a satisfying feeling to know that I had made a difference in their lives.

My past travels in Belize forced me to start thinking about my future plans. The WFR course and the clinic experience made me realize that I want a job in which I can work with people. I need to be out there, interacting with the world, conversing face-to-face, and helping wherever I can. Having a career in the medical field would be ideal to me, because helping other people is what I enjoy, and working in real-life situations appeals to me. Experiencing these medical situations first-hand has given me the inspiration to pursue a career in the Health Sciences field, and I’m excited for what’s to come.