As a young doctor, I wanted to be a good clinician and have a fulfilling career that aligned with my personal values. I joined the Navy as an active duty physician immediately after medical school, in part because the Navy’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment resonated with me. Looking back, courage was the hardest of these to practice in daily life. However, that courage — to take on new roles, and to reach beyond what I initially thought possible — was critical to my greatest joys and successes.
The people and the practice of infectious diseases (ID) sparked my interest early in my medical career. I aspired to be like the inquisitive and service-minded individuals who populated this field, and I continue to have a deep respect for my colleagues. With the wide diversity of roles and clinical settings an infectious diseases provider can practice in, there’s something for everyone! I currently do a mix of inpatient and outpatient clinical care, administration, and graduate medical education, and my schedule is a little different every week. The ongoing discovery of new pathogens and novel treatments means I can look forward to a lifetime of learning.
I believe the future of ID is an exciting adventure. New diseases emerge continuously; national and international public health challenges arise almost weekly as our world view continues to expand. The opportunity to describe new diseases, develop new therapies for old diseases and develop vaccines to prevent both new and old diseases is a challenge that will remain for many years to come.
With the exponential growth of medical innovation and literature, we as clinicians must work smarter to keep up. I am a member of several professional societies, including IDSA, because they critique and disseminate new medical information while helping set standards of care.
Infectious diseases training provides a unique foundation for our graduates to integrate into various aspects of our medical systems, and provide welcome insight and leadership beyond the care of individual patients. Getting involved in public health, infection control, and other quality improvement activities can be hugely rewarding, both personally and professionally. Our specialty has been challenged to better quantify the value of these non-direct patient care activities provide to our communities, hospital systems, and medicine at large, but with the help of advocates like IDSA, progress is being made.