May 15, 2024

Heersink Student Spotlight: Why do I want to be a doctor? Part 1

Written by

Durell King is an MS1 student at the Heersink School of Medicine. The first year is always an adjustment, so the Heersink communications team met with him during orientation last July and again during the second semester to see how his first year of medical school was going.1624731520400Durell King

At orientation, King was asked why he wanted to attend medical school and what he hoped to accomplish. He answered:

“I had a negative experience as a kid happen to a family member. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to other people. I also have a passion for medical mysteries. I like trying to figure things out. I want to be the best doctor I can be.”

King’s father had lupus and died when King was 11 years old. Seeing the medical realities of treating a disease like lupus at the same developmental stage that he was watching television shows like Scooby-Doo fostered a lasting interest in medicine and mysteries.

“I found that medicine is one gigantic mystery--looking for the clues, figuring out what the patient has, diagnosing them, and so forth,” said King.

That mindset led to his current interests in internal medicine and cardiology. Internal medicine is at the top of King’s list because of his interest in acting as the first line of defense for patients.

“I like the idea of being a jack-of-all-trades type of doctor,” said King. “Also, internal medicine is where the diagnosis is usually performed, and I know there's a shortage of primary care physicians in the country.”

King is also attracted to cardiology for its complexity.

“I always told myself if I were to specialize in anything, it would be the heart because the heart is one of the most interesting organs,” said King. “We literally finished the cardiology block last Friday, and I loved learning more about the heart.”

That determination to succeed at challenging tasks is a large driver in King’s journey.

“I knew medical school was difficult, generally speaking, but the transition was like going from lifting 50 lbs to 200 lbs,” said King. “On match day, I hope to look back on those little challenges I faced, thinking ‘I'm not going to be able to do it,’ and knowing I ended up doing it.”

Spending time with his friends and family, planning trips, and looking to the future keep King grounded. Whether it be a short phone call with a friend from college or visiting his mother, being in the presence of loved ones always brings him a sense of peace. In his free time, King adds new destinations to the list of places he wants to visit. Currently, Japan, Egypt, and Rome, Italy, are at the top of his list. King is also a Christian and frequently finds prayer comforting to get through hard days. Lastly, King enjoys visualizing the future, where he sees himself becoming a successful doctor and starting a family.

“I look forward to the point when I know exactly what to look for and what I'm listening to—the point that I can confidently say, ‘Okay, I know what you have’ because I want to be a successful doctor,” remarked King. “But at the same time, I also want to be there for my family—yelling at my kids when they mess up and being there for conferences and other sports events.”

As he approaches the end of his first year of medical school, King has two pieces of advice for aspiring medical students.

“Even when you try your best, sometimes you might still fail,” said King.

His advice is not to give up but to understand that failure is inevitable. How you respond and adapt to it determines if you will succeed.

King recalls learning this lesson during his class’s cardiology block.

“Three days before our midterm, I was doing practice questions, and I kept getting all of them wrong. Eventually, I realized how I was studying was wrong,” said King. “I had to revamp my entire study plan from scratch with a new focus on organ modules. It worked, and I was able to pass my midterm and final exam on time.”

King’s second piece of advice is to make your voice known.

“You have to be able to listen to everyone but also understand that everyone might not listen to you, even when you know what you’re talking about,” said King. “Sometimes, when I know something but others disagree, they will stay together because they feel safe in the majority. It doesn’t happen often, but I learned that you genuinely try to speak up when those situations happen.”