Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thanks, Noah Wyle

Noah Wyle

I really owe Noah Wyle. When I got onto the perpetual motion machine of medical education, his John Carter from E.R. helped keep me going. There was no Grey's Anatomy -- Carter was my man. His screw-ups, successes, and everything in between were an image of the ones I was intent on having for myself. I wanted watching him to be like seeing my future -- without the commercial interruptions.

It seems kind of odd, I suppose, that I'd rely on a character who was considerably younger to be a role model. The problem was finding role models in the first place. In real life, of course, I'd worked closely with doctors who kicked my motivation into high gear. But I wasn't working in a hospital anymore, I was taking classes, and sometimes it felt like the far side of the moon.

It gets even harder when you consider the demographics. Younger students outnumber the older ones (though non-traditionals are the fastest growing segment of this population), so it's even harder to find someone who's been there, done that, and because of their own experiences, can imagine what it's like being you. Sure, there was an online group at the time and they helped, but we were all pre-med students, so it was more like a support group, and I'm all for support groups.

In a situation like this, you take advantage of what's available, and John Carter was there. It's going to be different -- it's already different -- as the current generation of medical students enter residency. There are more of us who've decided No Limits isn't just a mantra on a T-shirt. We're writing, telling our stories, and sooner or later, someone's going to realize the next generation of E.R. or Grey's should depict an older student as the lead character, doing the job and doing it well. Just wait, it's coming.

(Promo image of Noah Wyle as John Carter in ER; copyright by NBC Entertainment. Image via Wikipedia)
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