One of the best kept secrets about being a doctor is that you can get to travel beyond the four walls of your office, the operating room, and patient rooms in the hospital. Doctors go to conferences to learn, to present research and to share knowledge. And we learn from each other over conversations that cannot be duplicated by teleconference, books, journals, videoconferencing or even Google.
All doctors are expected to continue their medical education and there are requirements for learning which have strict standards. But doctors who do research with patients and in the laboratory more often have the opportunities to present their work to the medical community at national and international meetings.
My husband, a pediatric urologist (a surgeon who cares for the medical and surgical problems of the urinary tract in kids), and I travelled to spend a week in Israel at the American Association of Pediatric Urologists. This was the first time they “internationalized” their annual meeting. It was fun, informative and very fruitful in making the contacts and plans he needed to extend his NIH (National Institutes of Health) funding with his fellow pediatric urologists. We wives also had a great time, having known and seen each other for the past 22 years this group had formed and met. For this part of the trip I was on vacation and had opted to not lecture or make contacts with my colleagues in Israel.
When it was over and we had visited family and travelled other parts of the country, we left for Greece. It was there that we switched hats and I was the “professor.” I visited with one of my former trainees, originally from Greece, who had spent 2 years training to be a pediatric otolaryngologist with our group at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Her name is Dr. Sofia Stamataki.
I lectured at the University of Athens Medical School, met her colleagues, lunched with her director. We toured the children’s hospital where she worked and learned about medical care in Greece.
We talked and compared notes and discussed cases. We planned some research and for her next visit to the US. And, of course, over the course of the 4 days, we toured.
I am very proud to have been part of the training of the first US fellowship trained pediatric otolaryngologist in Greece. It was wonderful to see my former student, now colleague, climbing the ladder to success. She is in a good place and that made me feel good.
So if you want to be a doctor and also a teacher and researcher, you will find yourself travelling to places you never thought you would visit with people you never imagined you would meet. So become a doctor, travel the world.
Dana, when you get back from your vacation (after you just took part 1 of your medical boards), as an MD/PhD in anthropology, could you tell our readers some of the other ways doctors travel the world?