Dear Future Doctors,
I know this pandemic has shifted so many things for all of you. From graduation to rotations, to how classes are taught, and so much more. That can be frustrating, annoying, anxiety-provoking, and just seems unfair. Trust me when I say I believe all those feelings are COMPLETELY VALID. Therefore don’t suppress those realities. However, this letter is written to motivate and encourage you to bring innovation, compassion, and BOLDNESS into medicine. I am writing this letter because even as my family is grieving I could not pass up this opportunity to teach you, medical students, a lesson through the story of my father‘s death.
My father, Evangelist Mario Chery passed away secondary to covid19 on April 12, 2020. He was 63 years old with no past medical history. He has never been hospitalized or had to undergo medical treatments. He was healthy and strong as an ox. My father was the person my family least expected to pass away from this awful virus and pandemic. If anything, I have a chronically ill mother with Parkinson’s disease and each day I would hold my breath hoping she would not get ill from this awful disease as well. My family never expected that we would lose my dad at this critical time in our world. He was a father, husband, my mother’s full-time caregiver, evangelist, radio station personality where he preached, prayed, and encouraged thousands of souls. Since his passing I’ve received so many messages from complete strangers sharing with me the acts of service and kindness my father preformed. Things I never EVER knew.
I share all of this to say my dad was more than just a Covid19 patient, and he was not just a black body. In due time, I will share the intimate details regarding the death of my father with the world because I believe his death represents so many lives who have died from this virus. Especially black lives, who have been dying disproportionately in this pandemic. Many of those black lives had no one to advocate on their behalf. Just know that even with my privilege of being a physician I could not save his life.
So what’s the lesson?
Our healthcare system is broken in so many ways and riddled with deficiencies, injustices, and lack of humanization. We need to be the change. We can only do this by thinking beyond medicine. Trust me when I say I want you all to excel academically and be medically competent to treat patients. BUT becoming a doctor is more than grades, board scores, status, and a long white coat. You need both the dedication to academic excellence AND the compassion to connect to patients and meet them where they are. You need to learn the other things like social determinants of health, emotional intelligence, humanism in medicine, public health, professionalism, and more. These latter things not only make you a doctor, but they make you an AMAZING ONE.
I believe in every single of you.
I believe you all can be the change.
I believe you all can be GREAT DOCTORS.
It was really important for me to reach out to medical students all over the world directly because you guys are the future of healthcare. We can not repeat the same mistakes.
When I went into academic medicine nearly three years ago, I NEVER expected to fall in love with teaching so much. I love being an example that you do not need to compromise who you are to achieve your goal. And quite frankly healthcare needs the REAL you.
As I’m hurting and grieving the loss of my dad, I’m still an educator. I still want to teach. Therefore I needed to use my experience to express these words to you all.
Keep pushing nonstop.
Give these academics your all. I can’t wait to have you all join me on this side.
Healthcare needs YOU.
With love & solidarity,