This week, I was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from Felix, a Ghanaian nurse who has become a close friend. I met Felix during my first trip to Lawra, Ghana over four years ago when he was working in the hospital's children's ward. Over the past four years, Felix has helped to oversee community projects as I led student service trips to Ghana, served as translator for interviews for my senior thesis, and been an enthusiastic sounding board for ideas about the expansion of MedPLUS Connect. We have spent many fun nights watching DVDs of Grey's Anatomy on my laptop, Felix marveling at the use of high-tech medical equipment that he had only read about in nursing school, and me doing my best to explain the ridiculously over-dramatized love lives of the characters.
As we chatted, Felix told me that he was hoping to go back to school in Ghana--to become a doctor. As I look back on my decision to pursue medicine and forward to my start of medical school this August, I am thrilled to think that Felix may be joining me in this journey. Thousands of miles away and on very different continents, Felix and I both have to deal with the stress of a competitive application process, a rigorous national exam, uncertainties about the overwhelming workload to come, and excitement about what it means to choose a career as a physician. At the same time, Felix faces challenges that I cannot even begin to comprehend--the prohibitive expense of things as fundamental to education as a laptop, the difficulty in obtaining education loans, and the responsibility of providing financially for an entire extended family.
While I am sure I will spend my four years of medical school stumbling through patient histories and basic medical exams, I am equally sure that Felix will perform these tasks with the poise, sure hands, and infectious enthusiasm that he brings to work everyday. Felix has dedicated his nursing career to working in the most undeserved areas of Ghana, and I know that he plans to apply utilize his future skills as a physician to treating this same communities. I wish him all the best!