Please welcome my good friend and Cuban brother— Dr. Luis Espina M.D. to Wednesday Checkup! You asked in my recent responding to comments video if starting medicine as a second career is a good idea and I got the best person to answer that question for you directly. Luis is a passionate fellow and loves anything he sets his mind to. He actually pursued medical school as a 2nd or even third career and in this videos he shares his highs and lows. Please enjoy this video and let me know if you’d like me to have him back for more like this!
Tune in this Sunday for a very special review of Grey’s Anatomy!!!
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- Doctor Mike Varshavski
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- You're now three years out of residency. You've worked urgent cares, primary care offices, semi-hospitalist positions, was the juice worth the squeeze? (sighs loudly) Hey guys. Welcome to another episode of the Wednesday check up. As promised, I have my special guest here, Dr. Luis Espina. - Hello. - Dr. Luis Espina's quite the special character. We did residency together. Even though we're a few years apart. Do you want to say how many years apart or we're not gonna do that here? - I'm almost old enough to be your dad. Yeah, so we're kind of a few years apart. - A few years apart. I'm putting it nicely. I'm trying to be as kind as possible. - You are kind. - Because ageism is a thing. - Ageism is a thing. I joke about my age. It doesn't really bother me. - In my last responding to comments video, someone asked, should they pursue medicine as a second career in their mid-life? And I thought to myself, who do I know in their mid-life, - Hopefully. - That went into medicine? And my mind went to no other person than this lovely doctor by my side who actually was my senior resident. - I was. - He was a second year when I came in as a first year and he was my, quote on quote, buddy, when I was an intern. And the buddies are second years that help out the first years. And then when I was a second year and he was a third year and we both happened to be on call, we would hang out a lot. - Yeah. - Talk about life. - Yeah, we were roommates for a while. It was like going away to summer camp, it was a lot of fun. - Well, you would have to be hanging out in the room to be roommates, we were running around the hospital. Especially you. - Yeah, we didn't do much hanging around, truth be told. We ran around the hospital. - What was your career prior to medicine? - So that's a... So I was an engineer I guess I still am an engineer. I don't have to give that one back. I was a mechanical engineer first. Did that for a number of years. And then ended up doing... I have a master in biomedical engineering and I worked for a medical device company. - Just casually a biomedical engineering degree - And then here I am. - Now wait, to me, you told me you used to work on planes. - So that was before I was ever an engineer. I went to... - This guy had 48 jobs prior to becoming a doctor. - I did, I did. - I want to figure out how you go from working on planes to getting biomedical engineering degree, to then waking up, working in a prestigious company and saying, "I want to go back and be a scrub in medical school." How old were you by the way? - When I started medical school, I was 37 years old. A friend of the family's was over to visit. And my mother was behind me, the lady was down the stairs at the front steps of my house and I was walking down the stairs to help her with something to the car. And she kind of offhandedly asked, "Luisito," you know... My dad's Luis and I'm Luisito. - I call him Papasito. - He calls me Papasito. So the friend of the family turns around and she says, "You know, Luisito, what do you think you're gonna do for a living? What do you think you're gonna do?" And I said, well you know, I've been thinking about biomedical engineering and I can still hear my mothers voice over my shoulder. She says, "Metika, the day he realizes he has a doctor in his heart, he'll be happy. He'll be free." The process started. Dr. Amartrano, who was my Anatomy and Physiology professor made me fall in love with the anatomy and the physiology, and the chemistry classes, and the organic classes, and biology. And I just kept falling deeper and deeper in love. And then I financially, it was just me and my mom. You know, I was like, "you know what, maybe I need to get to work and stop with this nonsense of four more years of school." So I was like, "we'll do the engineering and we'll get out." And as time went on, I finished engineering, I didn't go to school for a year or two. And then I went to grad school while I was working and got my masters in medical. And then at that point it just bit me, you know. I just really wanted to be a doctor. I ended up doing grad classes at UMDnJ. - What was the day that you say, "I'm applying to med school"? - Do you remember the day? - Yeah, I remember applying. And I remember that-- - Did you tell your wife before you applied? - Yeah. Well, we weren't even married yet. We weren't even married yet. - Well, I'm gonna call her your wife. - Gosh, yes, we've been married forever. But we were dating still at the time. And she knew what I was doing. - Did she say you were crazy? - No. Jennifer's always been for some bizarre reason, the woman's always believed in me. And she just, in her mind, she knew it might be messy, but it would get done. We were talking about getting married. Buying a house and everything else. - But instead, you're like, "I wanna do the $275,000 in debt and eight more years of education." - Yeah. - Because you really wanted to meet me in the future. - I did. I did. - Was that it? Man, you were the cherry on top. - I hate making this channel about me, but I feel like that what it was. Just be honest. - It really was. - It was all about him. I knew that he was coming out of his diapers at this time. But, yes. (Dr. Mike chuckles) For me, among the things that I love about being a physician, when I'm at work, I never have to justify to myself, what it is that I do. I'm a very simple guy. I'm not a complex person. I need to just be able to very quickly tell myself, "okay, you're doing this for this reason." So, when I walk in to the room and I close the door. And it's me and the patient that's why I'm doing it. - What's the biggest surprise starting third or four year of clerkships, when you're actually at the hospital that shocked you? - A lot of things shock you. Fatigue shocks you. Exhaustion shocks you. - To me it was paperwork. - Well, that didn't shock me as much because I... - You have more experience. pay more attention to it. The other thing that I will tell you, that I still, to this day, I've come to terms with it, but it is something that I deal on a daily basis, which is I wrap my arms around my own ignorance. - Okay. - The greatest thing that I learn in medicine is how much you don't know. And how much you have to constantly read and study and read and study. There is no "oh I graduated and it's over." It's everyday of your life. Just now we were talking about something. It drives me so crazy that I have to look it up right away. And read about it. And what is it. And refresh your memory. And I say that's part of the charm. - You're always learning. - If you love to learn and you're like a nerd like me. - Like us, can you throw me in? - You are, you are, man. Like us. - You speak nerd fluently. Okay, good. - And that's a good thing. The drive basically comes from that. It's that combination of the most beautiful things you can imagine. Science with all its beauty. Technology nowadays is incredible the things that we can do. And then you add a human element. And that is honestly, one of the most beautiful parts of it. If not, the most beautiful part. When you close the door in that exam room. And it's you and the patient, it's a dance. A lot of times the patient comes in and the chief complaint written down by the MA is sore throat. And you walk in the door and before this visit is out, this patient is crying their eyes out telling you their deepest fears and things they've experienced and pains that they're having. Things that they were terrified of. They told the nurse that they had a sore throat. But you have that moment and you make that connection. And to have the privilege of walking that mile with that patient is something kind of heady and kind of big. I, you know, I would complain about being tired, I would complain about the paperwork endlessly, my son will just look at me when I work on something, and he goes, "ugh, notes." - Electronic health record. - It's agony EMR. - Prior authorizations, all these things, they're crazy. And it's the price you pay for the privilege of the dance. - He's so much more poetic than I. I make my video about med school. And I keep it super practical. This guy comes in and makes an analogy of medicine as a dance. - Don't let him kid you. - (chuckles) This guy. - One of the things about this experience as I said is the people. So when I first find out who my buddy's gonna be. (Dr. Mike laughing) I see this guy's picture and I'm like, "oh, who's this young, pretty boy, I am not gonna deal with this kid." So one night, I was sitting in my cubicle, he was sitting at his cubicle. And it's really the first time we've ever exchanged words. 'Cause he was on other rotations. In the first few hours that I knew this young man, I knew that I'd met another brother in this walk through life. And I realized the depth and breadth of life that one can experience in such a short time. And it was another reminder of don't ever judge the book by the cover. Get to know the story. Find out what's going on. Because you have an opportunity to meet amazing people. And do beautiful things. And learn and experience. And that's something I've gotten from him. - What is the biggest challenge that you had as a almost 40-year-old in comparison to your 20-year-old colleagues? - Fear. - What fear is that? Fear. - What were you afraid of? - Fear. I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of making the wrong decision. I was afraid of not knowing enough. I was afraid of... When you're 20, you look at the patient as them and you are us. And this is game. And it...