Aug. 16, 2013 - A
physician offered Amelia Bowman this advice as she was considering entering
medical school: “If you can be happy doing
anything else, you should.”
By that time she had done enough
homework to know her answer.
had spent years investigating medicine as a career. She’d volunteered at Vail
Valley Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Colorado; shadowed physicians at
Denver Health as well as ophthalmology and oral surgery clinics; interviewed
medical students at different stages of their education; talked to medical
professionals about their careers.
She began suspecting medicine was
her career while teaching skiing fulltime and volunteering in the evenings at
the Vail hospital. Later, shadowing physicians taught her how varied medicine
“At the oral surgery clinic they
would go through the day’s schedule in the morning and they might say, ‘We’ve
got 12 wisdom teeth (extractions) today.’ That all sounds the same, but you
realize quickly that every case is a little different from the others.”
had also worked with Project C.U.R.E, a Denver group that distributes used and
leftover American medical supplies to 130 counties, shipping 40-foot cargo
containers filled with items like X-ray machines, ultrasounds, needles, IV
job involved coordinating visits for medical professionals once the shipment
arrived at its destination.
combined two of my biggest interests - travel and medicine - very nicely,” she
There, Bowman learned the ins and
outs of other types of health systems – or non-systems.
“It will be interesting to try to
find ways to improve our system based on what works in other countries,” she
says. “One common thread from the U.S. and anywhere else in the world is how
much need there is for access to quality care and quality medication. I’m
really excited to learn how to be part of the solution because there is need
She saw that the lack of a
clear health care system can have its benefits.
“I was really impressed by the
work ethic and the passion I saw. I think everyone here is guilty of taking
what we have for granted. (Abroad) they use resources so creatively and
thoroughly. There is innovation and passion I’d like to see more of here.
“For example, if they don’t have
the right piece of equipment, they’ll do things like add some tubing to make it
work. There’s a resourcefulness that’s really good. The rules here are created
with the best of intensions, but they can hamper creativity and innovation.”
There’s a downside though, too,
“like reusing sterile gloves.”
She learned that health needs are
the same all over, but the scale is different.
“The most shocking things were not
the person who’d been mauled by wild animals or affected by tropical disease,
but cases of hypertension or diabetes that were completely uncontrolled. I
regularly would see blood sugars over 500. Here 200 is considered uncontrolled.
It was a learning experience to see the symptoms from a pathology that has
progressed so far.
Interesting work - but she already
knew it wasn’t enough.
“I’d seen different positions that
could lead to lifetime careers, but I wouldn’t have been satisfied,” says
Bowman, 26. “By process of elimination I became certain.”
Knowing the need for good doctors
will help motivate her these next four years.
“I hope that when I have a long
night studying I can remember that one more hour won’t kill me. And that next
time I see a problem, I’ll know what to do to help someone.”