by Shahab Sharifian
For USC students interested in a career in health, Chicanos/Latinos for Health Education (CHE) organized a panel of health professionals to answer questions about the challenges and rewards of pursuing such a career path.
“You must enjoy what you do,” said Dr. Gompertz, a hematologist. “If something is wrong, you must change.
“You are not going to enjoy every minute, but your work must be able to get you out of bed every morning.”
According to Gompertz, his interest in the health field began at a very early age when he tried to understand disease.
At the time, there was “not much data to make diagnoses. Blood was available, [making it] easier to study” Gompertz said.
One of the biggest reasons he chose medicine was for the “different opportunities and different challenges that come up,” he said.
USC alumnus, Dr. Scott Monta, said that he “signed up for everything on Career Day.” He added that he interacted with the Dental club, which offered free dental care for underserved families.
“It is important to take advantage of the opportunities here at USC, and to make sure you are enjoying what you are doing” Monta said.
Furthermore, the panel ventured into what a respective day in the life of a physician might be like.
Said University Park Campus pediatrician adolescent health specialist, Dr. Lisa Richardson: “All I do is see patients.
“There are several ways to practice medicine – research, teaching, seeing patients, interacting with patients, nurses, collaborating with different specialties.”
Veronica Gudino, who received her Masters from USC’s School of Social Work, explained that she sees 7-10 patients on a normal day, conducting assessments and one-on-one therapy sessions with patients. She also conducts groups for mental health illnesses.
Afterwards, the panel moved towards discussing how to balance their careers with other facets of life.
Dr. Lisa Richardson, who started her family during medical school, stressed the difficulty of doing both at the same time recommended against living such a lifestyle.
“Things happen, and you must deal with it. Just be prepared” Richardson said.
Similarly, Gudino had a boyfriend throughout grad school, and she stressed the element of support in relationships and how important it is to maintain a healthy relationship alongside a successful career.
Added Dr. Mona: “It is not easy. Your mindset has to be: ‘I’m going to do it.’ “There are always tests, they never end.”
According to Richardson, each small failure during schooling should not be viewed as a complete failure.
“There is so much more to success than the small failures, and that we learn from our mistakes” Richardson said.
In addition to career advice, the panel also commented on the current state of healthcare and the difficulty of practice with respect to insurance companies.
“Now we have managed care, and there are big groups like EDNA and Kaiser who have bureaucratized health care,” Richardson said.
According to Gompertz, the current insurance system is a burden for physicians.
“Insurance dictates the number of visits,” Gompertz said. “When it rains, it pours, and it’s pouring on everything right now. We still have optimism for physicians.”
When asked to discuss the effects of time restraints on patient visits- Dr. Gompertz said, “Care being determined by the amount of time allotted is negatively impacting the quality of care.”
Lastly, the panel discussed alternative ways to pay for medical school. The group came to a consensus that any health profession has a hefty cost attached to it, but alternatives such as military service, bank loans, and income based/contingent repayment programs were all mentioned.