“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Our small group was eating dinner at a restaurant in downtown Siem Reap, Cambodia, when the live music suddenly stopped: The drummer of the band had had a seizure. 

It was in this awful silence – and in the chaos that followed when I realized it didn’t matter that I was on vacation in a foreign country. I was several months away from graduating medical school, but I already had a professional and ethical responsibility to help this man as best as I could.

When I began the MD/MBA program five years ago, I couldn’t have foreseen how much being a physician would come to define me as an individual. But on that night, halfway around the world, I learned that who I am and what I do with my life have become intimately intertwined.

Hippocrates arguably the most famous physician in history once related medicine to the love of humanity. I took this to mean that I should care for my patients deeply, with kindness and warmth. My patients often made this easy as they were kind, warm, and above all human. I’ll never forget the girl who wanted to get better so she could become a marine biologist,; the irritable elderly man who called me his favorite doctor; the woman who reminded me of my mother. 

Business school taught me that this love of humanity should drive me even further. I now dare to call for high quality and equitable care for all of our patients; a demand that will require immense systems-level change in health-care delivery. It’s a daunting challenge, but I can’t wait to join the many minds working to address our broken health-care system. Because when the music stops, this is who I am and what I do.

— Ginger Jiang