Family, Community, and a Desire to Care

This essay was written for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine's Integrated Medical School and Family Medicine Residency Program (TIP), a transitional fourth year medical school experience that continues into residency.

by William Barker

Even when applying for medical school I knew where I wanted the journey to take me. Being born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and having a strong connection to the area, it was always my hope to return to the UP and practice medicine.  Although I innately knew what my goal was, I didn’t understand my reasoning behind it.  Applying to medical school was one on the first times I thought critically about the events in my life that shaped my decision to be a physician.  I looked at my core values and gained an evaluative understanding of what motivated me as an individual and what I felt would continue to motivate me in the future. The themes underlying these events were my dedication to family, community, and a desire to care for those who made me who I am today.

Over the course of my undergraduate and medical education I have had the pleasure and opportunity to travel internationally and extensively within the United States.  No matter how far away I travel, the place that I will always call home is the UP.  The sense of being “home“ isn’t just a geographical location.  The UP has given me an education, provided numerous positive role models, and made me who I am today.  It would bring me great happiness and pride to be given the opportunity to return to my home and express the gratitude I feel by providing care to my UP family.

Being a family medicine physician would allow me to combine many of my personal interests, goals, and hobbies into my career.  As a family physician I would be able to be involved in preventative health and it would allow me to be a positive influence and motivator for my patients.  I would also like to serve the local community by volunteering with community or religious agencies and possibly help shape public health policy.  A career in family medicine would allow me to express my passion for athletic performance, nutrition, and the outdoors by giving me the opportunity to pursue a fellowship in sports medicine.  By incorporating my personal interests and hobbies into my work it would ultimately increase the reward and satisfaction I experience from my career. In the next three years, I hope to join a family medicine residency program that allows me to express my personal interests and give me the opportunity to give back to the community.

While advancing through my medical education I have begun to realize the significance and value of taking the time to reflect on the past. It is so easy to get consumed in completing the daily tasks and requirements of a medical education that you forget your motivation for wanting to practice medicine in the first place. Reflecting upon my journey thus far, I acknowledge that the values that motivated me to pursue medicine are still present and have only been strengthened by time.  As I approach the end of medical school, it is encouraging to know that the years I have invested have brought me one step closer to my goal.  Looking toward my future, I believe the values of family, community, and service, which inspired me to pursue medicine, will continue to motivate me to succeed as I move forward in my career as a family physician.


(July 2015)