Rushing Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords through underground tunnels to bring her to a rehabilitation center after she suffered a gunshot wound to the head was one of many stories Dr. Imoigele Aisiku recounted when he spoke about his experience as an emergency physician in the Underwood Room on Thursday evening. Aisiku was brought to campus by members of the Students in Medicine club.
Aisiku also spoke to Andover students about how he decided to become a doctor, his personal experiences in the field, and how he has managed to carve out a specific career path for himself. He described both the hardships and rewards of pursuing a career in medicine and the unique challenges that come up in his job, specifically as he deals with emergencies day in and day out.
“In the course of one day, I delivered a baby, pronounced someone dead, and watched my EMS guy bring a leg to me without the rest of the body. That was a day for me at work. Every day was like that,” said Aisiku in his presentation.
In addition to being a fellowship director in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Emergency Medicine Critical Care Program and section chief in its Department of Emergency Medicine, Aisiku also received his MBA from Emory University, which he credits with helping him combine his passions for medicine and business into a single career.
“My favorite [part of the presentation] was when he said that it’s been a long road to get to where he is — through school and everything else he’s done — but once you’re able to help someone and save someone’s life, all of the hard work is worth it,” said Ryan Twomey ’19, who attended the presentation.
According to Aisiku, he entered college wanting to be a policeman and had never considered the medical field until he spent several nights as a security guard for the emergency room of a local hospital. Intrigued by emergency medicine, he began leaving his post to watch procedures and reading a biology textbook in his spare time to learn more about the field.
Eventually, with the encouragement of his martial arts teacher and the doctors he spoke to at the hospital, he switched his major to medicine despite recognizing the long and, in his opinion, exhausting road that lay ahead. After college, he went on to graduate school, and then residency where he often faced 120-hour work weeks. Despite the great amount of time and effort he put into learning to become a doctor, including fainting from exhaustion during his first surgery and waking up at 3 a.m. to go to the hospital, he said that he’s happy to be doing what he’s doing, and that it suits his personality perfectly.
During his presentation, Aisiku said, “You [go] through all this torturous stuff because someday, there’s going to be somebody across from you that needs your help. You’re going to have those sleepless nights, but you’re going to learn… And you’re going to have the opportunity to actually make a difference in somebody’s life, whether it’s directly by the medicine or the surgery or diagnosing the disease, or whether it’s simply by talking to them and letting them realize that there’s nothing else you can do for them any longer.”
Chioma Ugwonali ’20, a board member of Students in Medicine, said she initially came to the talk to learn about life as a doctor, but came out of the presentation impressed and inspired by not only what Dr. Aisiku has accomplished as an emergency care doctor, but also who he is as a person.
“I just appreciated his presentation in that he was so open… he was really relaxed about the whole thing. I was surprised he had that many funny, quirky stories to share. I’m really glad he came,” said Ugwonali.
She continued, “And I liked how he kept it real, too. He didn’t sugarcoat anything.”
The event’s coordinators, Students in Medicine co-presidents Fredericka Lucas ’18 and Isabelle Bicks ’18, expressed hope that the talk introduced more students to emergency medicine and that people walked out of the presentation more interested in pursuing a career in the field.
“Having a career in emergency medicine is really cool and definitely really interesting. [Aisiku] had a lot of stories to tell us, and I think, for a speaker, he was a really good person to come talk to students because we can learn a lot from his experiences… It’s a good way to learn about the field [firsthand].” said Lucas.
Bicks also felt that having Aisiku share specific experiences of his work helped combat incorrect stereotypes of doctors that popular culture perpetuates.
“I feel that through a lot of TV shows, our impression of the medical field is that doctors have to be super cold and detached and following a formulaic response to everything. [I really hope that] having him come in and share his really diverse set of experiences and stories… shows students that you can be a person and a doctor; you can be a businessperson and be involved in the medical field,” said Bicks.
Before leaving, Aisiku reassured students once again that his hours spent hunched over textbooks and examining cadavers late at night were all worth it when he realized that he had made a difference in someone else’s life.
Aisiku said, “The road that you may potentially embark on — it’s long. But also, amazingly satisfying.”
Editor’s Note: Isabelle Bicks is a Copy Editor for The Phillipian.