So why did you choose to be a physician?

Itchless, painless red rashes blanketed the seventh grader’s calves ready for spring in shorts. Long overstaying their welcome, the rashes concerned his mother. So they went to the doctor.

Now, a silver chain peaks out of the back of his shirt, a fashion statement perhaps. Yet the one-inch, hexagonal pendant hidden from the world reveals something more—von Willebrand disease.

Nicholas Arno’s blood disorder forces him to refrigerate a $500 tiny bottle of nasal spray that clots his blood if he cuts himself or gets a nosebleed, the sophomore biology major says.

Before his diagnosis, science had always been cool, Arno says, but now he knows he wants to be a physician.

Arno's necklace . photo taken by me

In 2004, the World Health Organization estimated about 800,000 physicians in the United States. Arno and another St. Bonaventure University student plan to contribute to the growing statistic. Three current physicians explain why they became doctors.

Nicholas Arno . photo taken by me

Arno, 19, says he has engrossed himself with science-related news and has shadowed doctors through the Olean General Hospital Experience in Clinical Medicine program. He plans to take the emergency medical technician certification course Bonaventure provides to further his medical experience.

Specialties hematology, in which doctors treat blood disorders, and pediatrics, in which doctors treat children, interest him the most, he says.

While the premedical student says his disease guided him to his vocation, Allen Knowles laughs and facetiously says Dr. “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek provoked the idea.

Knowles says he tried physics in college but soon realized it was not for him.

Allen Knowles . photo taken by me

Freshman year, he went to a biology seminar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Knowles says he realized there that he liked human biology, especially diseases.

He graduated as a biology major from University of New Orleans and says he went to Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport, La., in 1977.

Washing dishes, cutting grass at a cemetery and painting houses for minimum wage, Knowles worked with poor people suffering from health problems that bad diets and lifestyles created, he says. He wanted to treat such workers.

He practiced family medicine in rural West Virginia from 1984 to 1989 and then in western New York until 2008. He accepted patients with insurance, those with Medicaid and those without anything if they were sick.

Across the country in California, Timothy Bernett wanted a profession in the health-care field.

Bernett had planned to join the Los Angeles County Fire Department and train to be a paramedic. The popular job had a long waiting list, he says.

Keeping his name on the list, Bernett says he continued his health-care studies. After reading a flyer for a premedical conference at his junior college in California, Bernett, then 21, decided to listen to the University of Southern California speakers.

Bernett says the pictures of medical students progressing through their training in classrooms and hospitals captured his interest.

He craved the intensity of medical school and challenging patient cases. Bernett says he wanted to prove that he was smart enough to be a physician that patients respected.

However, getting a C on a math test did not bode well for his ambitions.

Seeing his grade, Bernett’s classmate laughed, “You’ll never make it, getting a C on a test.” That further motivated him, he says.

He graduated from Dartmouth Medical School in 1980 and currently practices emergency medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira, N.Y.

By the time the fire department offered him a job, he says, he did not want to abandon his premedical studies.

Bernett says he loves the short-lived patient interactions and the excitement of the emergency room.

Roger Schenone . photo taken by Doug Willard of Horseheads, N.Y.

Roger Schenone used to crave that same kind of rush as an emergency medical technician, he says.

Schenone, then 19, pulled over at Exit 42 on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island, New York. He says he grabbed his medical bag in his trunk, rushed to a gravely injured motorcyclist and tried to stabilize him until an ambulance arrived.

Schenone says this instance confirmed his belief that he wanted to be a physician.

He no longer has moonlight shifts in the emergency room, he says. Instead, he has practiced internal medicine, in which doctors diagnose patients but do not do surgery, in Elmira, N.Y., for 22 years.

A good doctor, Schenone says, can explain diseases and symptoms to patients. Kyle Klosowski says a good doctor wears a bowtie.

The biology major says he knew at 7 he wanted to be a physician.

Kyle Klosowski . photo taken by me

Born with clubfoot, Klosowski, 20, had surgery before his seventh birthday that did not cure his defect. His bowtie-wearing physician worked with him to cast his foot as another attempt. The bowties validated his physician’s brilliance, says the premedical student, enticing him to become a doctor.

Klosowski says he too will wear a bowtie.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Well done. Thanks.

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