With his wife and his dog, Levi Franson recently moved from Soda Springs, Idaho to Rootstown to take his place as a first-year student in the College of Medicine. His application essay, below, offers a look into one of the many stories behind Northeast Ohio Medical University’s diverse and fascinating student body.
Living and working on a farm, my off-school days often started early. One summer I moved irrigation pipe at 5:30 every morning, including weekends. This was a cold, wet, muddy, and lonely job in tall grass, and I struggled at first finding the strength and technique to keep the water flowing as it needed to. But soon I developed the strength and know-how to handle the pipe, to trouble shoot for leaks and malfunctions. Then, once a sprinkler line was properly set, I walked miles of fence line to repair sections damaged by trees and snow and elk. There was branding, castration, and vaccinations that got me used to the dirty, undesirable jobs. In the spring, we spread barnyard manure back on the fields. With all of this, I was generally expected to remain on the job working hard until everything was done, working by the job and not the clock. Through this foundational childhood environment, I grew to become a more competent and capable man, able to take on challenges that required persistent hard work.
My interest in medicine began when my father, a rural family physician, took me on an ER call. One of my friends had been cut up in an accident. The possibility of competently helping someone in their time of need thrilled me. I felt that I wanted to develop and hone the necessary skills to allow me that same opportunity for other people. I also went along on a number of home visits over the years, realizing I enjoyed the small talk and long-term relationships and close contacts. I saw how people live, how their lifestyles affect their health and their ability to take care of themselves, and the ultimate value of home visits. I never doubted the difficulty of medical school, and the rigor it demanded to succeed.
When I joined my high school swim team, I initially struggled to keep up and meet the requirements. It took extra practices and early mornings with my coach to reach my goal and eventually qualify for the Idaho State Championship meet in the 100-yard backstroke. That progress carried me to completing a 10-km open water race. Competing at that level was one of the first times I became clearly convinced of the connection between persistent effort and goal achievement.
I want to be a doctor because it is my ultimate goal and I have the confidence in my capabilities to successfully reach that level because I have what it takes to do hard things. After graduating from high school, I deferred my acceptance to Brigham Young University and went out on a church mission to Spain. The next two years I spent doing service work, becoming fluent in Spanish, contacting people, and learning about their lives and challenges. I lived among the poor people and attribute my interest in and love for the low-income community to the happiness and positive mindset that they possessed. Many of them were ill and needed help, and the frustration I felt for not being able to heal people has propelled me forward to medical school.
Helping those in need gave me great satisfaction and filled me with a sense of purpose. I have seen so many people struggling in the world and believe that I can make a major difference by providing health care to them. When I returned home from Spain and started college, feeling it was important to continue a service element, I found a volunteer position tutoring high school students. Each week for the next two and a half years I helped these students learn to study and read better. Compared to college, which focuses primarily on the self, this extended opportunity gave me some consistent time outside of self.
Compared with countless other professions, medicine is in many ways more of a calling and lifestyle than simply a career choice. Certainly, there is much potential for personal satisfaction, intellectual stimulation, and daily variety. But in the end, it really does come down to extending oneself for strangers, staying late in their times of need even when it seems inconvenient, being willing to step up and forget about self, refraining from prejudice and judgements, finding compassion for people who are different, and doing a consistent and thorough job all the way to the end. Sometimes this level of commitment may seem challenging. It may not involve obstreperous animals, cold mud, long lakes, distant countries far away from home, and dyslexic discouraged students. But I believe my experiences have prepared me well to embrace the calling of medicine and the challenges and rewards it will offer.