I always wanted to be a doctor. Back in high school however, I couldn’t commit myself, because I doubted my ability to tolerate “the sight of blood.”
If you look at my high school yearbook and you look under the section of what I was most likely to do after high school, I stated that I was going to study “Commerce and Finance” and then become a lawyer. I remember that not everyone agreed with this plan. My English teacher who knew me well, actually refused to give me a letter of reference thinking I was making a mistake heading in that direction. Either, she thought I was destined for something else or she knew that you had to be able to spell in order to be a lawyer. (This was in the pre Spell Check era). In any case, I probably would have gone in the direction of law had it not been for a small incident that happened to me while I was a counselor at a summer camp in Ontario.
One afternoon, I found myself taking on the role of lifeguard during a free swimming period. A little girl right in front of me slipped on the dock and fell, cutting her hand rather badly. I looked around and saw that there was no other more appropriate adult to help this girl; there was nowhere to run. I was in fact, It! I immediately took my towel, wrapped her hand and held it tightly while reassuring her that I would help her. I carried her to the infirmary and then I stayed with her while the camp doctor anesthetized her skin and then stitched her up. I stayed with her the whole time and at the end of the procedure I realized that both the girl and I had survived the operation. So, I said to myself, “Hey, I can do this!” I called up the University of Toronto that moment and had them change my major from Finance (at which I’m sure I would have been hopelessly inept) to pre-medicine. Its amazing to me now, how just one small event could change my life.
I am thankful to all of you who have come here today. I have learned a lot over the years. I learned some at medical school. I learned more from my colleagues. But I have learned the most from my patients. If I am a good doctor, it is only because I have been a good listener. If I am a good doctor, it is because you have been good patients.
I also thank all of the drug reps, several which are here today, who represent large pharmaceutical companies that bring me new drugs. It would be depressing to try to practice medicine without the hope of an ever-increasing number of new medications to help in the fight against disease. I never really pass judgment about a particular medication until I’ve tried it on a sufficient number of patients and then listen carefully to the responses. A drug that looks good on paper from a controlled study still has to pass my test in its use on my own patients in a real world setting. So, I thank all of you for the education that you have given me.
When I graduated from medical school, I was selected to be a member of an honor medical society called Alpha Omega Alpha and their motto was, “Worthy to Serve.” Those words I believe help guide me. It is a great privilege to have someone, some stranger, put their health and their life in my hands. This is a humbling responsibility and therefore I have always felt that it was incumbent upon me to make sure that I did all that was necessary in order to live up to those inspiring words, “Worthy to Serve.”
So, I thank all of you for helping educate me and trusting in me over these past 27 years. I thank all of you who have contributed to this beautiful testimonial scrapbook and I thank all of you who have come here today to make this event one that I shall always remember.