Physician Outlook

The Comeback Kid: A Big Fish With A Big Head

Every stage of our lives can influence the choices we make. That is the case of Dr.Robert Campbell,who was loved and respected all his life and gained things rather effortlessly. He was never really committed to anything until he got to medical school.

Hometown Values

I think every stage of our lives can influence the choices we make, and as I think back, my road to addiction was a long journey that began early in my childhood. I grew up in a small town where my graduating class was less than 100 people. Making friends was easy for me and high school did not present too much pressure for me, it was easy. At home I had a supportive and loving family that was overbearing and my reaction to that probably helped shape my arrogant sense of entitlement where everything I did was “gold,” and I could never be wrong or do wrong in their eyes. As a child I did not know anything different, this was my normal. Entering college with this mindset turned out to be detrimental for me because I did not have the coping skills and the sense of responsibility to deal with real problems or recognize I had any issues. Growing up I was infallible, I was perfect and thought no matter what I did, I would always come out smelling like a rose. I believe the lack of responsibility and accountability made it easier to fall into the dark hole when things came crashing down around me years later.


College Life


I attended a small, private college in rural Pennsylvania where I majored in biology. At Westminster, I was part of a fraternity, had a scholarship to play baseball, and got good grades without having to exert much time or energy into my studies. I was the stereotypical frat boy; I played baseball during the day and drank beer with the guys at night, even though I did not really drink in high school. What seemed to remain consistent during college is that I was still a big fish in a small pond, I was untouchable. I did not have to exert much effort to feel loved and respected by everyone, it was a high like no other and I realize now it was nothing but arrogance.


The Road to Medical School


I knew I wanted to go into some sort of medical field where I could help people, but mostly I wanted to make good money and live the lifestyle. Up until my Junior year in college I really had not put a lot of energy or work into taking the necessary steps and preparation for any field of medicine. By now, most students had been studying for years and prepping themselves for the MCAT, possibly doing research to bolster their resume as well as working part-time or volunteering in the field of medicine to gain experience. I did none of these things. In fact, it was during my yearly check up with a physician near my school that changed everything.  He asked me what my plans were after college. I told him I was thinking about Optometry. He asked me why. I told him I thought it would be a low stress career that was also lucrative. “Why not medical school?” he asked.  I really could not give him an answer. Then he asked, “when you go to the bar and you see a hot girl with her less attractive friend, which one are you going to try to take home?” I answered the hot one. He said “yes, the hot one. The hot one is med school. Go for that first.” And there it was, the seed was planted in my mind that I was going for the “hot career,” I was going to medical school.


A short while later, I enrolled in an MCAT prep course even though I was not nearly ready nor fully committed. It seems that I was not fully committed to anything until I was in medical school. My overall GPA in college was around a 2.9. My GPA in medical school was just shy of a 3.8. I even scored better than 92% of the nation on Part II of the USMLE STEP exam, which decides if/what residency program you get into and if you get into a specialized field. All the way back to my college days I didn’t put much preparation into anything except what nights we were going to pre-party, what fraternities we would visit, and how many beer pong tournaments we would have at our off-campus apartment.


Tune in next month where I share how my lack of preparation led to a very embarrassing effort on medical school entry exams and how my college professors basically told me I would “never make it into medical school, yet alone be a physician.” 


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