In My Shoes: What It’s Like to Be a Medical Professional

A pharmacist searches for a prescription at Iqra   Pharmacy   in Flatbush . Photo Credit: Rubhiyah Chaudhry

A pharmacist searches for a prescription at Iqra Pharmacy in Flatbush. Photo Credit: Rubhiyah Chaudhry


Hospitals! Nursing homes! Pharmacies! Prisons! Research labs! Schools! The medical field is extremely rich and diverse as medical professionals are offered a variety of settings in which they can practice their passions and make their desired difference in the world. With each of these environments comes varying experiences and obstacles that one must learn to navigate.

There are various reasons why people choose to pursue a career in medicine. 

Guilaine Aristide,  who is a practicing  physician assistant at New York Presbyterian, said, “I decided to go into medicine because I wanted to help people. Coming from Haiti, I watched people suffer due to a lack of simple medical resources. This made me want to make a difference and help those in need.”  

Likewise, Dr. Farah Jean, who is currently a physical therapist, said, “My uncle who passed  away now had a severe stroke. I remember going to see him when he was in rehab, and the physical therapist who was working with him caught my attention. This introduced me to the field of physical therapy. I wanted to help people get better after devastating events like a stroke since physical therapists play an important role in the rehabilitation of a patient.”

After multiple years of continuous studying and  sleepless nights,  medical professionals begin the next phase of their journey as they plunge into the workforce. 

Ms. Aristide stated, “When I first started, I worked at Maimonides Medical Center and it was a little scary. When you finish school, you now have to put everything into practice. You are no longer a student and are now responsible for the wellbeing of others. The decisions and the attitude that you have matters. For the first few months, I relied on the doctors, other physician assistants, and nurses for help.”

As medical personnel continue to  master their professions, they are placed in different settings and gain the opportunity to work with patients, sometimes from unexpected populations. 

Ms. Aristide explained, “I once worked in the prison system, particularly at Rikers Island. Although I was still practicing medicine, the experience was very different. My job was to perform a physical examination for those coming into the prison system. This job was to make sure that they did not have any infectious diseases. Other doctors and myself had to ensure they were clear before getting released into the general population.” 

Like all professions, the medical field is filled with numerous barriers and obstacles. 

Waheed Afzal, who is a pharmacist at Iqra pharmacy, said, “I had to work really hard and overcome several challenges and had to work a part time job while studying extensively. Being a pharmacist, I have to be cautious in assigning the right medicine to a patient.”

Expanding upon those challenges, Ms. Aristide said, “In the business world of medicine, the insurance company or the place that you work wants you to quickly come and go. You are given a schedule which requires you to see a patient every 15 or 30  minutes.”

Sometimes being made to feel like a “robot” is “the ugly side” of medicine, Ms. Aristide said. “However, as a provider, you must always strive to break all of these barriers and ensure that your patient is cared for.”

Even with the various difficulties, practicing medicine holds countless rewarding aspects and memorable moments.

Dr. Jean said, “Being a physical therapist, I’ve learned to deal with different people and different personalities. I’ve also developed tolerance and patience. Sometimes the patients are aggravated because they have some type of pain or problem. This causes them to become angry and lash out at you. In reality, they’re not really angry with you, they are just frustrated with their conditions. I’ve also learned to be creative since, when working with kids, I have to find a way to incorporate play in what I want to do.”

As the medical field continues to capture the attention of many, it is important that those pursuing medicine remain hopeful and continue pursuing their goals.

Ms. Aristide said, “Definitely go for it because it makes you feel so fulfilled. Not only are you helping people and making a difference, it gives you instant gratification. The majority of the time you are able to vividly see the difference that you are making in people’s lives.”

FeaturesCasey Levinson