With either crayons or computers in their backpacks, most students by now have headed off to begin another school year, experienced the first-day jitters and gotten a sense of what lies ahead for the next nine months or so.
It can be simultaneously exciting and exhausting until the teachers and their charges settle into a rhythm, one punctuated by the “aha” moments when a student finally understands a concept.
We are all lifelong learners, whether we actively think about it or not. In most cases as an adult, it is informal—the education that comes from embracing a new hobby or, at the other end of the enjoyment spectrum, learning the mechanics of a new computer system at work. For others, the learning is more formalized, like when someone decides to switch industries mid-career or, in the case of many in the healthcare field, when they head to medical school.
The number of people in medical school this year hasn’t been tabulated, but enrollment during the 2022-2023 school year was 96,520 students, about 54% of them women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Enrollment was up almost 6% since the 2018-2019 school year.
How many of those students told their families they wanted to go into medicine as children, and how many decided it during an “aha” moment later in their education?
Pursuing a career today in healthcare, particularly in medicine, is not for the weak-kneed, given the time and money commitments, the shifts in how care is delivered and the politicized environment in which those in the industry must operate.
In the spring as college graduations were underway, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden until last year, was a guest speaker at a few medical school commencements. His message to graduates was to focus on the humanity that goes with being a clinician, to embrace the science and to fight misinformation.
It seems apt advice for those starting their formal education toward a career in healthcare too.