Calling All Future MDs: The Privilege of Service
To work in the service of others is a privilege that is not afforded to everyone. In order to serve others in positions such as a doctor or teacher, one not only has to train, but has to prove that they are worthy enough for such a role. This requires hardships in some cases. These hardships might include difficult coursework or training or even financial hardship to pay for school.
But many individuals choose to dedicate their lives to the services of others anyway and bear these burdens in order to work for their fellow human being.
I am one who has decided to dedicate my life to the service of others and am currently training to become a medical doctor. One of the stops in my long journey to medicine included working with chronically homeless individuals at an agency in New York City. It was at this site that I discovered that the true privilege in service is when we are able to better the lives of the people we work for, being able to hear their stories, to learn from them, to help them. I gained so much more than I was able to give to the people I worked with. While services are needed by everyone and no one person deserves more or less than any other person, there are individuals who are overlooked, forgotten, intentionally marginalized and let down by society and those are the ones in the most need. I redefined the meaning of “serve” from being “to work for” to being “to lift up.” With this in mind we understand that there are some people who need more lifting up by others. Especially when they are constantly let down.
Working with a population like the chronically homeless allowed me to see firsthand the results of the many unresolved issues in our society. I saw firsthand what happens when we lack education, not just formal “higher” education but a financial education or technical education. I met individuals who have seen, heard and lived through things that many of us could not even imagine. After this experience, I am more passionate to reach my goals in life and to become not only a physician but an advocate.
Due to my own experience, I felt it would only be fair to give everyone this piece of advice: before you make the leap into whatever career in service you want to achieve, work with an under-served, underrepresented or forgotten community. Working with a community like this should light a fire in you to want to save the world, even if the world you save is the life of just one person. Working with a community like this allows you to see the cracks in our societal infrastructure; cracks are much easier to fix when we acknowledge where they are.
Teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers and everyone else who dedicates their lives to uplifting others are in a unique position where their actions, their words, their attitudes and their attentiveness are things that can have a huge impact in people’s lives. It is vitally important to recognize this power and use it responsibly.
Basically, I am commissioning a call to action for everyone who wants to serve others to go out and work in the difficult situations with the people who often lie below the field of vision of society. Work for these communities, learn from these people and use these experiences to make lasting changes. Because you can do it. And so you should.