Student works for medical career

By Anastasia Macdonald

Junior Patrick Smith’s philosophy behind his hopeful career as a doctor is that it is just as important to help people that he does not know as people that he does know.

“It is easy to help people you know, but it’s more important to help those you do not know, because you will not get payment or recognition in return,” Smith said.

Smith scored a 38 on his MCAT, putting him into the 99th percentile of scores. This has allowed him to choose any medical school in the nation. Smith’s entire college career prepared him for this test, and it was not without an impossible amount of work that he ended up with this score and an opportunity at a great career.

Smith always had a strong work ethic; in high school he was captain of the varsity football and varsity baseball teams, and he played varsity basketball and soccer. He was the team all-league winner two years for football and for baseball, and he also received the Coaches award. Smith remarks that it is not talent but hard work that that attains success in athletics, school, or any field.
Being an athlete is what first made Smith interested in medicine.

“Athletics made me fascinated in how the human body works,” Smith said. “The best way to study the body is through the brain, which is why I selected neurology.”

Combined with this, Smith’s love for kids prompted his interest in pediatrics, and when came to USD he already knew he wanted to major in biophysics and go to medical school to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Smith had an interest working for Doctor’s Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization created in 1971 that provides service to nearly sixty countries whose people are threatened by violence, armed conflict, catastrophe and exclusion from health care.To prepare himself for this, he joined Medical Brigades, an on-campus club that travels to countries like Honduras and Panama on medical missions. When Global Brigades was started, the organization opened an orphanage in Honduras, where Smith and his Medical Brigades team went in August 2012. There, they had the opportunity to work and interact with the local kids.

“Working with children can make the longest impact, and that’s why I’m interested in pediatrics” Smith said.

He said that his interest in medicine and pediatrics is not motivated by money, but by service.

“The reason the world sucks is because no one cares about anyone else,” Smith said. “If everyone tried to make the world a better place for others we would all live better lives.”

Smith attributed his drive and success to his parents, who were always involved in his life. His dad coached his sports teams and was his cub scout troop leader. He said that both of his parents always supported him and taught him to always “give and seek respect. They ingrained in me kindness and respect towards others”.

Having done a lot of service in high school Smith joined the Rotaract community service club freshman year. He now serves as International Chair and volunteers for various organizations several times a week. Smith has done everything from weeding to baking with Rotaract, sometimes waking up at 8am on weekends to have meetings and organize events.

Nevertheless, Smith’s success in college has not been without huge sacrifices, as he often sleeps 4 to 6 hours a night and is rarely able to go out on the weekend. He said he feels stress every day, but the sacrifice is worth it.

“The hardest part was giving up playing sports,” Smith said.

Despite this, Smith was always goal oriented. He went to college with the mindset that this was the time to work hard and have a career, not focus on being social or getting by easily.

What motivated Patrick’s focus was his hands-on experiences, In January 2012 Patrick went to Panama on a medical mission where he met Rosa Ramos, who he describes as one of his inspirations. Patrick worked at dental station in Panama, where Rosa’s siblings were getting dental treatment and Rosa was helping restrain them.

“We worked a lot with dental, often all you can do is pull teeth,” he said. “The kids are going to end up with no teeth at thirty. I want to save them from that fate.”

During a break, Rosa was given a paper bag to draw on. She drew a picture of Smith and her siblings and gave Smith the picture. He said that this brought the two to get to know each other. Rosa and Smith both loved baseball, and Rosa came over one afternoon and asked Smith to play baseball with her. She came back every day after that.

Rosa is nine years old and one of the older siblings in a family that is living in hunger, among parasites, and with no clean water. One day, Rosa brought Patrick some of her sandwich, and he understood what that meant.

“People there are willing to give everything,” said Smith.

Now Smith volunteers at Rady Children’s hospital, and he interns at Scripps Mercy Hospital in the trauma department. He said it is tough to realize that doctors see people in desperate or near death on a daily basis. Several weeks ago, he said that a 25-year old came into the trauma center so drunk he stopped breathing.

“It scared me to think that that could happen to someone so young,” he said. “He could have died on the trauma table right there in front of my eyes.”

Even worse than that, he saw a 27-year-old who attempted suicide on his birthday. He said that it was difficult to see someone so young in that state of mind, and that he wished he could help them.
“On his birthday [he] took a knife to his throat,” Smith said. “The cut was not deep enough, so he lived.”

Smith said that the quote from John Wooden on his Medical Brigades shirt serves to explain his passion for helping others.

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you,” the quote read.