CORAL SPRINGS, FL - Watching a loved one suffer in a hospital bed brings out many emotions, but none is more powerful than the feeling of helplessness: seeing someone in pain and not knowing how to alleviate it. As a young child watching my grandparents fight cancer, it was a feeling I knew all too well.

My own feeling of helplessness during that time is what peaked my admiration of the doctors and nurses who, through their expertise and care, brought a level of comfort that cannot be expressed in words.

I knew from the moment I witnessed this treatment firsthand I needed to be in the medical field and bring that same relief and care to others.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the appreciation for medical professionals because the everyday sacrifices they make are now publicized like never before. It is an appreciation I wish was more prevalent before the pandemic, and it is one I hope remains after the pandemic subsides.

Seeing this outcry of support for those in the medical field from my own community has only increased my desire to work in the medical field -- specifically as a physician assistant.

At the University of Florida, entering the pre-med track brings me one step closer to my goal of making a living out of inspiring and helping others. The thought of comforting the vulnerable and showing a younger generation the same care I witnessed as a child is something that excites me greatly.

However, the path to getting there is not all sunshine and rainbows.

It is not just the pre-med curriculum that is difficult, it is the pre-med lifestyle as well. I’m a bit ashamed to admit the feeling of regret I had for being a pre-med student when I once learned I would not be able to attend a concert I had been looking forward to for months because there was a chemistry exam on the same day (in my defense, what professor schedules an exam for Friday night?).

For a moment, I contemplated missing the test. Give me liberty or give me an F.

Every time my career path challenges my social life or mental health, I remind myself sacrificing momentary pleasure is always worth it when the reward is life-long fulfillment.

Kaci Thomas is a 2019 graduate of Coral Springs High School who attends University of Florida.


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