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Michigan Medicine Physicians Share why they became doctors

“My decision to become a doctor was driven largely by values instilled in me by my faith and my family. The idea of being a part of a profession focused on helping others regardless of circumstance, focused on facilitating people leading healthier and therefore happier lives … I can’t imagine a more fulfilling job.”

Erica Marsh, MD

“When I decided to be a doctor, I never really quite understood what it meant. I wouldn’t have predicted the amazing highs of directly impacting someone’s life, nor the deep lows when a patient did poorly. Every day, it’s a gift to have the opportunity to care for patients in their most vulnerable times. Despite the stress, long hours away from home and family, I could never imagine a different career.”

Nicholas Osborne, M.D.

"I grew up in Detroit and was aware of the challenging health care situation there, along with the striking prevalence of hypertension in the community and in my own family. These factors motivated me to pursue hypertension research."

Kenneth Jamerson, M.D.

"I have been interested in a career in women's health since college and I began medical school here at the University of Michigan with plans to become a OBGYN. I decided to become a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon as I believe that, as surgeons, we have the duty and responsibility to offer the safest and least invasive options to our patients with the goal of improving patient outcomes with shortened recovery times."

Courtney Lim, M.D.

“It certainly wasn’t always easy growing up as the son of a highly successful physician and scientist. My father was raised in Korea during the Japanese occupation of World War II. He was a strict disciplinarian and perfectionist with a ‘right way’ and ‘wrong way’ to do everything — from my homework to cutting the lawn. If I didn’t get it right the first time, I did it again until I got it right. Though it was often hard, I have no doubt that my upbringing formed the foundation of my own work ethic, attention to detail and ability to prioritize and sacrifice to achieve an important goal.

“As a young man, I wasn’t introspective enough to articulate the precise factors which drew me to a career in medicine. I remember being convinced that I was my own man, making my own decisions based upon my own life experiences. While the ability to integrate caring for those in need, a love of science and need for ongoing intellectual stimulation were durable themes which guided my career choice, it is only in retrospect that I realize how much my father provided the education and opportunities which helped me to choose a career in medicine.

“As the old saying goes, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ It took a while, but I eventually figured out the virtues of taking that drink.

“My father inspired me to pursue a career as a gastroenterologist in direct and indirect ways. Indirect ways included the passion and enthusiasm that was apparent whenever he spoke about being a physician and a scientist. Direct ways included shadowing him at work and incorporating me into his research laboratory as a preteen and adolescent. As a young boy, I often spent Saturdays rounding or working in my father’s animal laboratory. I don’t know of many 12- to 14-year-olds who were assisting in animal surgery and studying the effects of ethanol on the migrating motor complex (to clarify — in the animals).

“My career in medicine has been a rewarding experience. I’m primarily a doctor, and like to think that I positively impact the lives of my patients. At the same time, I take pride in conducting clinical research that shapes the way doctors care for patients with gastrointestinal disorders. Finally, I greatly enjoy my role as an educator and mentor. There is a certain point in most teaching interactions where the person you are working with ‘gets it.’ Experienced educators recognize these moments, and they provide the kind of positive reinforcement that keeps us coming back to work each day. I am clearly a much better mentor now than I was early in my career. It took time to figure out that a really good mentor takes at least as much pride in their mentee’s achievements as their own.

“A 30-year career in medicine has taught me that understanding what makes one excited about getting up and going to work each morning is perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a career. Given how much time each of us spends at work, it only makes sense to pursue a career that provides happiness and fulfillment. I feel fortunate that I come home feeling happy and fulfilled many more days than not and live each day with the satisfaction that comes from knowing that I have made a difference in the lives of others.”

Chey is a professor of internal medicine and director of the GI Physiology Laboratory. He also serves as co-director of the Michigan Bowel Control Program.

William D. Chey, M.D.


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