A letter from Dr. Moses Nasser, D.O.,
To the graduating class of 2012,
To all medical students,
To all Doctors:
The word, the name – “Doctor” – carries with it thousands of years of history, culture, expectation, and implied meaning. For some, it denotes respect, authority, and influence. For others, it implies utter selflessness and service. No matter what, the word conjures up deep feelings and opinions about our role in society, and profoundly affects our image of who we are.
I wanted to be a physician since childhood, like many of you. I remember graduation. Residency. And now, having a practice. I always viewed becoming a physician as this goal, this ultimate end, which would be the fulfillment of who I am as a person. I was in for quite an awakening!
Since graduating eight years ago, and seeing the class of 2012 last night, I came to the realization that graduation was just the beginning, and my degree was just that- a degree. The experience of medical school, and the past eight years of practicing medicine, were just that- an experience. We have gone through a process of education and experience. Long and hard? Yes. Sweat and tears? Yes. But is that all there is? No.
Seeing the intense variety of personality at the banquet last night brought me back to reality. It was an “a-ha!” moment. It sums up as such:
The word “Doctor” does not define me. It is not who I am. I am who I am.
We say, “I AM Dr. so-and-so,” or, “I AM a Doctor,” (or I AM a variety of other things- father, mother, American, architect, Mustang lover, Laker fan, etc. – same concept.) Instead, the reality is that we practice medicine. You are a Human Being of infinite value and infinite depth. I AM ______ puts you in a box that limits your infinite potential as a Human Being. “I am a Doctor” limits me to the cultural and historical pressures and limitations that are implied by Physician-hood.
The challenge comes every day as others call us Doctor, especially friends and family, who are so proud to have us on their team. Don’t allow it to get to your head. You are who you Are, of infinite depth, without limitation.
I have chosen to intensify my interest in the arts, in music, and in living a creative life. At first it felt tragic that I would shift my focus that way. I have not completely abandoned the practice of medicine, but even if I did, it wouldn’t change WHO I AM. The education and the experience have added knowledge and wisdom, and that will help us no matter what path we choose- whether teaching, research, education, invention, the arts, or some other far out endeavor.
Your education is just that- an education. It does not establish your identity. Put it in your back pocket and continue to get to know yourself on this awesome adventure of Life. Others will continue to expect you to act and be and do, because you are a DOCTOR. No- Be Yourself. Don’t let the collective culture put that limitation on you.
God Bless You All, Immensely.