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Tyler Carrell
Ms. Katelyn Stark
ENC 2135
16 September 2016

Investigative Field Essay: Draft 2


I.

Introduction
Working as a medical doctor is considered one of the most prestigious career paths in the
United States. doctors are well paid (often well over $100k), find great satisfaction in their jobs,
are shown immense respect by the public because of their willingness to dedicate their lives to
saving others. People often pursue a medical career not out of a desire for great wealth or fame,
but because they feel a greater calling, an obligation their fellow man to do no harm and facilitate
healing. Though it is an honorable calling, the life of a doctor is not for the lazy or the faint of
heart. It is a life full of rigorous and difficult education, harsh work hours, and a great deal of
emotional and psychological strain. A career as a doctor is not an easy one, but it is an honorable
and fulfilling one for those capable of dealing with the hardship.
When I was eight months old, I developed a rare condition called Kawasakis Disease
(KD) which attacked my lymphatic and cardiovascular system. I was not diagnosed early on and
thus did not receive the proper treatment for quite some time. As a result, I developed two
coronary aneurysms. As an infant, I endured a relapse of KD, a heart attack, and a life flight to a
hospital before my medical condition was sorted out. Throughout my childhood I was subjected
many semi-invasive medical procedures in order to assess on the condition of my heart. I also
visit Shands Hospital for annual checkups. During my many annual checkups I have met other

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individuals with heart conditions of varying severity. Ive made many friends at these checkups
only to learn of their unfortunate passing the next year. All of this is why I personally want to
pursue a career in medicine, I have a strong desire to heal those whom can be healed and help
develop new and better treatments for those who currently cannot be healed. I consider my
experiences with disease and the toll it can take on families a gift. I want to use this gift to my
best ability to help individuals and their families make it through illness.
In order to be successful in my goals of seeking a career in medicine, it is necessary for
me to understand what the life within the field is like. Over the past couple weeks, I have
conducted research on life within the medical field. Through conducting interviews and
consulting academic journals and forums frequented by medical professionals I have learned
about many aspects of the medical field. The primary goals of my research have been to uncover
information about the various forms of communication used by medical professionals, learn
about the stress doctors and medical students frequently experience, and discover important but
obscure qualifications and traits looked for by potential employers.
II.

Methods
Even before I went about conducting my research I had a decent amount of knowledge
about the medical field as a result of my many interactions with doctors. In conducting my
research, I hoped to further my knowledge about how doctors and other medical professionals
communicate and combine my pre-existing knowledge with new information in order to gain a
more complete understanding about the field. Before conducting my interviews, I did some
research on life in the medical field in order to both know what I was talking about with the
people I interviewed as well as figure out what specifically I wanted to ask them about. Some of

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the topics I researched included stress and burnout rates associated with doctors, dealing with
loss of patients, and conventions of discourse utilized by medical professionals.
I chose to interview three people involved in the medical field as a method of conducting
primary research. For the interviews I composed five questions to ask each of the three
individuals I interviewed with the questions being designed to elicit unique and useful
information from each individual about how they specifically fit into the medical field. The three
individuals I chose to interview were my long time cardiologist, Doctor Frederick Jay Fricker
(pediatric cardiologist at Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville, Florida), my family doctor,
Doctor Charles Long (general physician at Tallahassee Pediatrics Clinic), and the professor of
my Pre-Med Freshmen Interest Group class, Farrah Karimipour (upperclassmen at FSU pursuing
a career in medicine).
I chose each of these individuals as I felt that each would be able to provide me with
different useful info. The questions I asked the three persons I interviewed were: 1. What sorts of
communication do you encounter regularly in your professional life? 2. What are the most
important traits for an aspiring doctor to possess? 3. What personal advice would you give an
aspiring doctor? 4. What kind of emotional toll does losing a patient take on a person and how do
you most effectively deal with it. 5. What does your average day/workload look like? 6. What
was your motivation/what made you want to become involved in medicine? Each question was
altered slightly to better suit the individual being interviewed.
The only major issue I had during the interview process was that I had no really effective
method of recording the interviews. My interview with Dr. Fricker was conducted over phone
and thus I was forced to furiously scrawl down what of his answers I could manage to write
down quickly. My interview with Dr. Long was in person, but I forgot about possibly recording it

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with my phone and wrote down key points of what he said. My interview with Ms. Karimipour
was conducted over email and as a result I have the most complete record of that interview.
III.

Results
All of my interviews seemed to provide fairly similar answers for the questions they
shared, however, they did vary to a degree as each of the individuals I interviewed are involved
in the medical field in different ways.
The first question I asked my interviewees dealt with the topic of discourse in the medical
field; namely, what sorts of discourse they regularly encountered, and how they were used in a
professional sense. Dr. Fricker spoke a great deal about how diverse the discourse within the
medical field was and about how much of the long standing discourse about medicine was
changing. The most common genre of discourse used for doctors to communicate with each other
and their secretaries is email due to its speed and how easy it is to archive or save important
conversations. Email is also the choice form of communication between different hospitals for
use in case consults and patient referrals, closely followed by telephone calls. Email is less
frequently used between doctors and their patients, but it isnt unheard of. Calls and direct
meetings are the most common genre utilized in communication between doctors and their
patients. Dr. Long did not have much to say about discourse within medicine other than that the
best encounters are face-to-face and that social media and texting are infrequently used as they
do not really allow for confidentiality to be observed. He did note that email has made
transferring patient files between hospitals and clinics much easier and more efficient than fax.
According to Ms. Karimipour, discourse in the medical field at the college level is rather
informal. Communication with peers mostly consists of in-person conversations which can range
from talking about tests to deep conversations about inner motivations and inspiration.

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Communication with professors and physicians often leans to flaws in how the medical field
functions and discussion of how to develop solutions to these problems.
The second question I asked was about important traits for potential doctors to possess.
As stated above, this question was tailored for each of the individuals I interviewed. Dr. Fricker
made it clear that the single most important quality for a doctor to possess is deep empathy and
compassion for their patients. Unlike many medical professionals, Dr, Fricker does not
subscribe to the belief that a doctor should be detached from their patients, instead believing that
by making each case personal a doctor becomes intrinsically motivated to properly treat their
patients. He commented that patients want doctors to treat them like human beings, not broken
objects in need of fixing. The second trait Dr. Fricker spoke about was having a genuine interest
in advancing medicine; as he put it, We are standing on the shoulders of those who have come
before us, they advanced medicine in order to make the world a better place for us and we ought
to do the same for the coming generations. All of this falls in line with statements made by a
journal called The Medical Teacher claiming that (the) ideal physician was: confident,
empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful and thorough.1 (add citation in footer) Dr. Longs
version of the question was tailored to ask about traits looked for by hospitals and other potential
employers. According to him, the number one thing looked at is that the applicant graduated
from a reputable medical school, followed by their grades, letters of reference, and volunteer
work. Interview skills are also extremely important, you may look the best on paper, but if you
cant talk to people then nobody is going to hire you. According to Ms. Karimipour, the most
important traits for a medical student are a solid work ethic (for self-explanatory reasons), and
the ability to communicate well. Communication skills are so important as they allow a student
to network.

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My third question was about what advice each person would give an individual seeking a
career in the medical field. Dr. Frickers advice was to seek a well-rounded education rather than
just focusing on the sciences as doing so allowed an individual to become more versed in how
the world work and thus better at communicating. Dr. Long advised me to become good friends
with a few of the professors at FSU college of medicine as it would give a leg up in the
application process. Ms. Karimipour advised me to start studying for my MCAT now if I have
the time to do so and to join at least one of the various pre-med clubs here at FSU.
This was the point of the interview where I began asking more personal questions. The
fourth question was also tailored for each individual interviewed, but was on the topic of stress
related to the job. I asked Dr. Fricker about what it was like to lose a patient and how he would
recommend and individual deal with such a burden. He told me that losing a patient is harder
than anything you experience in medical school and that the first loss is takes the worst toll on
you emotionally. Dr. Fricker said that the way he and most of his colleagues deal with patient
death is by having faith that they did all that they could have, understanding and addressing
possible errors, and taking solace in knowing that they save far more people that they lose.
According to a paper on patient loss by the Omega Journal, some of the most successful ways to
deal with patient loss are realizing that death is not a failure, not taking time off, and turning to
religion.2 (add citation in footer) As a pediatrician, Dr. Long does not experience a great deal of work
related stress. The job is stressful in the sense that you have to handle the stresses of the
parents. Dr. Long was adamant that while being a pediatrician is not easy, it is certainly more
easy than most other medical specialties. The most stressful parts of his job involve uninformed
parents. His average workday is from 7 am to 5 pm, during which time he sees children of all
ages. Until recently, he would also have rounds at a local hospital for about 4 hours each day. As

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a student, Ms. Karimipour has a rather busy schedule due to her managing her academics,
volunteerism, and heading a charity organization here on campus. She did not say much about
how stressful her average day is.
My fifth and final question was on the subject of inspiration and motivation. According to
an article published by BioMed Central, med-school applicants with intrinsic motivations are
often more successful than extrinsically motivated applicants.3 (add citation in footer) For Dr. Fricker,
motivation to specialize in pediatrics came while he was an intern. He as the only individual in
his internship program who showed particular interest in pediatrics and thus was assigned to
mostly pediatric cases. From here his love for working with children only grew. Dr. Long chose
to work in pediatrics because of his negative experiences working with adults. During his early
work as a doctor he saw both adults and children, but he grew sick of seeing adults come in
with pickled livers and black lungs to get their prescriptions, then going across the street to buy
the next weeks supply of beer and cigarettes. For Dr. Long, it came down to the fact that
children listen to what a doctor tells them to do while with adults its in one ear and out the
other. Ms. Karimipours motivations stem from her family background. Nobody in her family
has held a career in medicine and almost all of her family comes from farmers and laborers. She
didnt grow up in a family blessed with money and spent a lot of time reading which planted a
seed of interest in the science/med field in her. According Dr. Fricker, Dr. Long, and Ms.
Karimipour, being intrinsically motivated is key to succeeding as a medical professional. It is
more work than most people are willing to do and you need to have a reason to stick with it to
the end.

IV.

Conclusion

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I began my college career with the common misconception that pre-medical students are
taken seriously if and only if they focus almost entirely on the sciences, however, through my
interviews and secondary research I have learned that the best candidate for a medical program is
often the most well rounded individual. People experienced and knowledgeable in the arts,
music, and history often make successful doctors as they are able to better communicate with
patients and other doctors. While a vast knowledge of the sciences (especially chemistry and
biology) is essential for a doctor, the ability to communicate is arguably just as important.
In my research I gathered a wealth of valuable information about life in the medical field.
Many myths and misconceptions were busted as I spoke with two doctors and an aspiring
medical student and I feel that I have now have a better understanding of the field I wish to find a
career in. The most valuable part of my research was learning about the ways doctors speak with
each other, their patients, and the greater medical community as it showed me how to
communicate in my future field and can help me in the long run with finding a job in medicine.

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Works Cited
Harrison, Valerie M. "Being a Doctor, Pros, Cons and What It's Really Like. The Process of
Becoming a Doctor." Being a Doctor, Pros, Cons and What It's Really Like. The Process of
Becoming a Doctor. MomMD, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.
This source cited above is not from an academic journal unlike most others cited in this
paper, but is instead from a web article detailing positive and negative aspects of working
within the medical field. While it is not a peer reviewed source, it is written by medical
practitioners, for aspiring medical practitioners and provides a good look at what life as a
medical worker looks like.
Hurwitz, Steven, et al. "The Desirable Qualities of Future Doctors - A Study of Medical Student
Perceptions." Medical teacher 35.7 (2013): e1332-9. Print.
This source is a peer reviewed study, aimed to reveal what medical school students perceive
as the ideal traits for a medical professional to possess. It is formatted rather similarly to the
required format of the investigative essay and goes into detail about what medical students
think a medical professionals personal, professional, and ethical traits should resemble.
Kaliannan, Maniam, Kala Perumal, and Magiswary Dorasamy. "Developing a Work-Life
Balance Model Towards Improving Job Satisfaction among Medical Doctors Across
Different Generations." Journal of Developing Areas 50.5 (2016): 343-51. Print.
This source reveals more about the life of a doctor. While doctors do experience a
significant degree of job satisfaction, they are also subject to harsh hours and more likely to
experience work-related burnout than most other careers. According to the article, doctors
find it rather difficult to develop a good balance between their work and their life.

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McManus, I. C., G. Livingston, and Cornelius Katona. "BMC Medical Education." The
Attractions of Medicine: The Generic Motivations of Medical School Applicants in Relation
to Demography, Personality and Achievement. BioMed Central, 21 Feb. 2006. Web. 12
Sept. 2016.
This peer reviewed article assesses the numerous generic motivations which have inspired
individuals to seek career in medicine and interprets them in terms of demographic factors
which may have influenced people.
Milosavljevic, Nataa, and Zorica Antic. "Medical English Genres - Indispensable Tool for
Effective Academic and Professional Communication / anrovi u Engleskom Jeziku Za
Potrebe Medicine: Neophodno Sredstvo Za Efikasnu Akademsku i Profesionalnu
Komunikaciju." Acta Facultatis Medicae Naissensis 32.1 (2015): 77-81. Print.
This source talks about genre and communication within the medical field. The article also
identifies and analyzes various genres in the medical community including written genres,
spoken genres, and nonverbal genres.
Patel, Mehool. "Changes to Postgraduate Medical Education in the 21st Century." Clinical
Medicine 16.4 (2016): 311-4. Print.
This source details the various recent changes that have been made to the ever evolving field
of medical training and postgraduate education in medicine. The document attributes many
of the recent major advances in medical technology, procedures, and knowledge. One
notable recent development is the heavy emphasis on having been involved in research
sometime during ones college career.

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Pessagno, Regina, Carrie E. Foote, and Robert Aponte. "Dealing with Death: Medical Students'
Experiences with Patient Loss." Omega: Journal of Death & Dying 68.3 (2013): 207-28.
Print.
This article details one of the most difficult aspects of working in the medical field; dealing
with the inevitable loss of patients and how medical students and professionals cope with
such events. Almost all doctors deal with the loss of a patient at some point in their life, and
due to the rigorous nature of the job, they cant really afford to wallow in misery and selfpity. People often develop coping strategies during their time as a med school student,
allowing for (as grim as it may sound) death to become just a regular part of the job.
Schrijver, Iris. "Pathology in the Medical Profession?" Archives of Pathology & Laboratory
Medicine 140.9 (2016): 976-82. Print.
This article talks about burnout and stress as the underrecognized crisis of the health care
industry. Burnout is experienced by anywhere from a third to two thirds of all medical
professionals in the United States. Despite many professionals learning to just deal with it,
burnout and extreme stress can lead to physical health detriments while worsening preexisting mental health issues. Burnout and stress are a part of the job when you enter the
medical field.
Shanafelt, Tait D., et al. "Burnout and Satisfaction with Work-Life among US Physicians
Relative to the General US Population Balance." Archives of Internal Medicine 172.18
(2012): 1377-85. Print.
This article discusses how medical doctors are more likely to experience burnout symptoms
and more likely to be dissatisfied with their work-life balance

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Walkiewicz, Maciej, et al. "Academic Achievement, Depression and Anxiety during Medical
Education Predict the Styles of Success in a Medical Career: A 10-Year Longitudinal Study."
Medical teacher 34.9 (2012): e611-9. Print.
This source is a 10-year longitudinal study aimed at investigating success in medical careers
among young physicians, any anxiety issues they developed as a result of their studies, their
academic achievement, and satisfaction with their careers.

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