by Sarah Feliciano
Among the events and opportunities provided during Binghamton University’s Homecoming Weekend, the MD Mentor Panel offered a wealth of knowledge to students interested in medicine. The Harpur alumni panel took place in University Union and featured five alumni: Dr. John D. Bisognano MA ’84 PhD ’87, Dr. Roger Gilbert ’76, Dr. Anita Sargent ’00, Dr. Joshua Usen ’92, and the panel’s moderator, Dr. Adam D. Fox ’92.
Titled “Grey’s Anatomy vs. Reality,” the panelists shared their individual experiences and explained the inaccuracy of “Grey’s Anatomy” and other similar medical dramas. In comparison to the popular ABC show, one panelist jokingly proclaimed, “Residency is a tough time in life and there’s a lot less sex.”
Multiple student concerns were addressed, but a common trend in concerns was fear of uncertainty. Bisognano confirmed the improbability of following a set course of action.
“One of my department chairs told me he 'Forrest Gump-ed' his way through life and I have to say ... myself and many others have done the same thing,” he said.
“I think that one of the great things about medicine is there are so many choices within the field of medicine that virtually any kind of personality, any kind of interest … you’ll find your niche,” Gilbert added.
Although the doctors quelled the students’ anxieties about the ambiguous journey ahead should they pursue medicine, they were brutally honest about the one aspect of medicine that is unfortunately certain: the low acceptance rate into medical schools.
“I must have applied to 30 medical schools and I think I got into four of them, and I still consider it pretty lucky,” Gilbert told students.
Usen confirmed that recent times haven’t changed: “I did not get into any of my first 20 choices the first time around. Only one-sixth of applicants were getting in. My advice? Try, try again.”
Keeping with theme, the biggest concern on the student agenda was the effect ObamaCare will have on the field of medicine, which is a huge concern on the American agenda as well.
“For me personally,” Usen replied, “ObamaCare is the greatest thing ever because I’m young, a primary care doctor, and I’m good with computers.”
The statement was received with unified laughter; however, Usen urged its truth. He relayed the general trend in opposition by doctors to ObamaCare stems from their reluctance to computerize their practices. Usen asserted his belief in the younger generation, who are “positioned well because they grew up with the Internet.” Senior Gwang Lee then followed up with: “If all of a sudden the people who didn’t have insurance are given insurance … if the volume of patients increases a lot ... like you said before, it’s becoming less and less appealing to become a physician.”
Bisognano admitted to the stifling increase in patients and acknowledged there will be a “higher demand for primary care physicians than specialists.”
Fox moved away from the rise in demand for primary care, focusing instead on the financial changes. He refuted the loss of appeal in becoming a physician, stating: “If you’re doing it solely for money, I will tell you right now this is not the time to go into it. The 1980s was the time to go into it. While it [ObamaCare] may open the doors for some other people to get insured, I get my salary either which way from the hospital…. The biggest issue is that a lot of people aren’t getting healthcare.”
Gilbert then shared a telling anecdote:
“I still remember the second question I was asked on my first medical school interview at Stony Brook in 1981. (The interviewer) said, ‘What do you think of all the changes that are going to happen in medicine over the next few years and do you still find the field attractive because of that?' Just to put that into perspective, that was 31 years ago that people felt they were at the cliff, at the edge of huge changes in healthcare, and that’s the way it probably will always be.”
While the future of medicine is debatable and none of the doctors are certain of ObamaCare’s outcome, the panelists were unanimous in their belief that “change is coming” and that the field of medicine will always be a rewarding and excellent field to pursue.
Last Updated: 6/3/15