Throwback Thursday: Dr. Patrick O'Donnell
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we caught up with surgical oncologist Dr. Patrick O’Donnell. An expert in both orthopaedics and oncology, Dr. O’Donnell shared just how hard it was to earn both a medical degree and a doctorate, along with an adorable picture of his young son helping him study.
What was medical school like? Was it harder than you expected?
My medical school training was a lot harder than I expected it to be. I entered medical school on a NIH medical scientist training program where in addition to completing the normal four years of medical training, I also completed a Ph.D in cancer immunology, so I spent an extra four years in the lab completing this research.
While my undergraduate schooling was very difficult, the sheer volume of material learned in medical school made things harder. It was a little like drinking from a firehose.
Did you always want to be a doctor?
Yes, I have wanted to be a doctor as long as I can remember – and specifically an oncologist. I went to medical school convinced I wanted to do pediatric oncology, but after doing a rotation in surgery I knew I had to be a surgeon. Then when I found orthopaedics, I really liked the reconstruction and "out of the box" thinking involved with orthopaedic oncology. I feel like I have the best job in the world.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to do what you do?
Make sure you really love medicine if you are considering a career in medicine. While there are a lot of rewards in caring for people, there can also be a lot of heart break. Personally, it's worth it for me, but I could see how it's not for everyone.