This past summer, I volunteered at an Indian hospital. While there, I observed an open-heart surgery.
This wasn’t the first time I’d seen heart surgery. At this point, I can roughly describe the surgical technique required for a cardiac bypass. As part of various research internships, I have observed surgeries since I was sixteen-years-old. So, I entered the Operation Theater (what they call the OR in India) knowing what to expect.
As I expected, it was among the most majestic things I’ve seen. The way the surgeon operated – fast, capable and meticulously – made me still for a minute. It was like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, or like driving through the infinite green fields of the American Midwest.
This – the take-your-breath-away feeling – happens every single time I watch surgery.
It starts with wonder at the fact that we can even do this. Humans can open each other up, fix what’s wrong, and return everything back to functional. It’s this sense of amazement and humility at the ways that we are coming to understand science and nature, but understanding that we have very little control over science or nature. It’s the reason I want to be a surgeon.
I also have themes in my life that extend outside of medicine.
I’m interested in broadcast journalism, filmmaking and entrepreneurship. I’ve worked in all of these areas. I started a business in high school, directed a documentary last year and video blogged for a major media conglomerate a few months ago.
All of these experiences were exciting and consciousness-raising, but nothing took my breath away. When I marry broadcast journalism or film or entrepreneurship with science and medicine, it makes me the happiest.
I’m a sophomore in college, so for now, I’m pre-med, AKA, not a surgeon yet. Pre-meds generally have a muddy reputation. However, I have noticed a sense of camaraderie and goodwill in the pre-med community that many outside of it don’t see.
It’s true: the pre-med track isn’t easy. Getting into medical school is the collective dream, but sometimes that need for admission is so great that it manifests itself in over-competitiveness and undue stress.
Every pre-medical student has to find a way to shoulder this pressure without collapsing under the weight. And a year into it, I’ve realized my strategy is to replace the pressure with gratitude and excitement.
I’m so lucky to have found this love early on. And I’m so excited and grateful to get to do something I love.
Anamika Veeramani is a sophomore at Yale University learning everything she can about science, biochemistry, physiology and astrophysics. She is currently directing two documentaries and one short film.