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Start Saving Lives Now

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

When pursuing a career in medicine- one question is inevitable: why do you want to go to medical school? Although this seemingly simple question has no right or wrong answer, putting your "why" into words can be a challenging task. It certainly was for me.

As someone who is almost never at a loss for words, I probably wrote and deleted my personal statement over a dozen times. It was difficult to explain why I wanted to spend the next 4 years of my life in medical school (not to mention the years after graduation for residency), why I wanted to be a doctor and why I would be a good one at that! After some serious soul-searching, prayers and multiple coffee breaks, I found my voice. Once I answered that "why" for myself, I was able to connect my underlying motivation to the qualities that would allow me to succeed in the medical field.

Ultimately, the answer to WHY you want to be a physician lies in your passions, strengths, and expectations. For many, the desire to help people, save lives and make a difference in the world is the anatomical framework of their medical school journey.

If we all agree that our ultimate career goal is essentially rooted in helping others and saving lives, why do we have the mindset we are only able to do so after graduation?

I am not talking about "acts of service" to "beef-up" your applications and resumes. I am talking about using our talents, resources and abilities to make a positive impact on those around us. Yes, until our medical school education training is complete, we are not fully capable of providing medical care, however, there are many other outlets in which we can both contribute to medicine and save lives.

With approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells, 7,000 units of platelets, and 10,000 units of plasma needed every day in the United States, the constant demand for donations is undeniable. In March, over 5,000 Red Cross Blood Drives were canceled across America in response to concerns and uncertainty on the coronavirus outbreak. This resulted in 170,000 fewer blood donations than expected and the American Red Cross faced a severe blood shortage. Tack on the short shelf-life of platelets, which must be used within 5 days, and the concern that the need for blood products would be less than the available supply became very real.

Thankfully, the American Red Cross has implemented new safety measures and protocols to ensure that blood drives are safe for both donors and staff, including:

  • Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy

  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process

  • Spacing donation beds to follow social distancing practices between blood donors

  • Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment

  • Testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies

With the end date of the COVID-19 pandemic uncertain, one thing is certain: the demand for blood donations is ongoing. From cancer treatments to organ transplant recipients to surgical procedures to chronic blood disorder care, the Red Cross needs both healthy persons to donate and volunteers to help successfully host and man blood drives.

As pre-med/medical students, we have chosen a career that allows us to not only see the need but gives us the ability to act to meet the need. I challenge you to not be complacent, to not be willing to wait until the title of "M.D" or "D.O" is added to your name to make a positive impact on the health and lives of others.

You have the ability to start saving lives now. Why wait?

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“Because Every Drop Counts”: Blood donat
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About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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