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Is Your Job Good For The Heart?

What would you be if life gave you a do-over, and stipulated you couldn’t be what you are now?

It’s true, I’m a dreamer. I cried during “Stand and Deliver.” A believer in the power of passionate leadership am I.

Finally, this Saturday morning, I was able to drink coffee, eat bagels and read the paper. Ah, it felt so good. And in doing so I was moved by the WSJ piece on Teachers for America, an organization that allows recent Ivy league graduates to try their hand at being “Kimo-sabes.”

As a dreamer, I often find myself thinking of what I would be after finishing a stint as a doctor, or even more dreamer-esque, what would I be if I wasn’t a doctor. For me, an equally-attractive job to doctoring would have to entail contributing something positive to humanity.

One of the coolest things about being a doctor is asking patients what they do. Not just to find out how much one’s occupation contributes to the inflammatory soup of life, but also to feed a dreamer’s visions. Few patient occupations pique my interest more than teaching.

Teaching the young is one of those truly noble vocations. Like many, I remember my favorite teachers, at all levels of schooling — from elementary school’s Sister Mary Joseph to the famous Dr. Douglas Zipes in EP fellowship. I remember them not so much for the details of what they taught, these facts get buried somewhere in the once knew that section of the brain, but for who they were as people.

Additionally, teachers are often present during those seminal days in life. Like the seven-foot-tall biology professor at Hobart who immediately after the late-Friday evening research seminar — which we attended solely to make a good impression — wheeled out a cart filled with Miller High Life. That night I discovered that learning biology could be fun, and in no small part sealed the deal — that science would be my occupation.

Few students can appreciate the nobility of teachers during their student years. Later though, when self-reflection becomes a larger component of life, the importance of skilled and dedicated teachers becomes obvious.

So I find myself reading with interest stories on education — a fan so to speak. I watch the education stories on Lehrer’s news program, admire Sal Khan‘s work, and read with dreamer-like interest stories about the coolness of graduating an Ivy league school and immediately contributing to humanity by teaching the under-privledged.

Sadly, like in medicine, it seems educators are also burdened with the intrusion of government regulators. I feel for any professional who is stifled by regulations that hamper the ability to the most good.

Thanks to all those who to choose to teach. Doing your job is indeed good for the heart.


*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

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