Grad Year: 2007
Why I chose English
Initially, I decided to pursue a concentration in English for one very simple reason: I love to read. I viewed the concentration and the required coursework as an excuse to read and to talk about reading. Of course, it ended up giving me more than an excuse, and I graduated with a nuanced set of ideas about why I love reading and how thinking and writing critically could take me places beyond books. Thanks in part to my experience concentrating in English at UM, which included challenging courses; several really special, generous professors; the curiosity and quick minds of my peers in the department; the amazing, unique summer outdoor classroom of NELP; and a very rewarding, occasionally frustrating experience writing a thesis in my final year at the university, I left Ann Arbor confident about skills that are useful in what some might perceive to be an unrelated field.
Connecting English with Medicine
Completing the concentration required a mastery of critical thinking and writing. That seems obvious enough, but apart from that and most important from my point of view, it yielded self-confidence in coming up first with novel evaluative approaches to texts, which was for a grade and for my professors. Now, I use the same skills to evaluate new ideas and to approach problem-solving in varied ways, and it is for myself. Such self-confidence is becoming more and more useful as I move nearer to beginning the clinical years, to say nothing of this past year in the anatomy lab, when I needed to figure out a way to approach remembering nerves and muscles. Now, I'm compelled to think about problems in more than one way, to approach understanding how doctors think about disease and healing, for example, in a way that is different and complementary than merely observing symptoms and prescribing medication. Concentrating in English made me comfortable in the realm of ideas, and writing papers and discussion sections in which textual evidence was just as required as eloquence and clarity has meant an easy translation to the world of actions—in my own case, to a future of [I hope] compassionate medical practice, of learning about people, exchanging narratives, taking histories, and hopefully coming to a diagnosis, in whatever form that might be. Being removed from days of reading and writing critically for a degree, I realize that success in the concentration was deeply connected to effective interaction and expression. Such emphasis has helped in reminding me to firmly ground my young diagnostic skill set in interaction with patients rather than lab results or laundry lists of symptoms and drugs. And as I begin to discern the physicians I wish to emulate from the rest, I see that with confidence in sincere interaction and expression comes a more humane and effective physician.
Related Career FieldsMedicine