I have decades of experience as an interventional cardiologist. However my path to becoming a physician was not immediate.
I was the first and only member of my family to obtain a college degree. As my ancestors are from Wales, I was advised to go into mining by my grandfather. As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, I majored in biology with minors in math, chemistry and psychology. I then began my professional career as a public school teacher. While teaching, I was encouraged to consider a career in medicine by others who recognized my excellent people skills. I gave up my evenings to volunteer in a local emergency room. This led to my acceptance at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Graduating first in my class, I later completed my training in internal medicine at the University of Iowa. I again graduated at the top of my class which included almost 100 fellow physicians. I achieved recognition for this accomplishment by being awarded the Ernest O. Theilen Award. The citation accompanying the award read, "This award is presented annually to a resident in the Department of Internal Medicine who, during assignment to the cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, exemplifies the qualities of devotion to patient needs, concern for human dignity, humility, and who, above all, displays exceptional skills in the care of this sick". Cardiology then became my passion.
Transferring to UCLA, I found that interventional cardiology utilized my exceptional visual and spatial skills. Internal medicine and it subspecialties require the intense desire to master large amounts of data, solve complex problems and then formulate a treatment plan. These tasks, the challenge of solving clinical mysteries and the privilege of changing in a positive way the lives of patients on a daily basis gave me a life long desire to fight cardiovascular disease. I have been quoted as saying, "Although I excel at taking care of the sickest patients, I also take great pride and pleasure in caring for those much less ill. My job is to provide reassurance and comfort even when cardiovascular emergencies are not my task. Today, there are readily available simple inexpensive tools to identify patients with very early coronary artery disease. It is no longer necessary to wait for a catastrophe or life-threatening event in order to be identified as a patient in need. True prevention is achievable. My education has brought me to that conclusion. I am blessed to have had an education which allows me to do things which few others are allowed to do."