I AM THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE – Lawrence Brown, Masters of Health Science Candidate at Meharry Medical College
Lawrence Brown was born on April 29, 1991 to Dr. Leon and Julie Brown in Stockton, CA. He is the younger of two children; he has an older brother, Leon Brown Jr., who is 23 years old. Lawrence was raised in a very tight knit family and had very supportive parents. His father was a minister and mother a social worker at Head Start Child Development Council. They taught him the importance of not only serving God, but also one’s fellow man. During his adolescence years Lawrence developed a great love for reading and music, and he believes that it was these passions that aided him in excelling in school as he grew.
Lawrence attended Lodi Academy for his first two years of high school, and completed his junior and senior years at Pine Forge Academy. Pine Forge Academy is one of the few remaining predominantly African-American boarding schools within the United States. At Pine Forge, Lawrence was very involved in student government. He also served as an honor society President, an honor guard, and graduated near the top of his class. From Pennsylvania, Lawrence headed to Huntsville, AL to attend Oakwood University. He majored in Music Composition & Recording Arts, while pursuing a minor in chemistry and completing the pre-medical prerequisite courses. During his time at Oakwood, Lawrence founded a chapter of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) on campus, and served as the President for two school years. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakwood in May of 2013. Currently, Lawrence is in the Masters of Health Sciences program at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. He intends to graduate from Meharry with his Masters degree in May of 2014, and to begin his medical degree at Meharry in the fall of 2014.
Along with having a love for science, Lawrence has a deep passion for music. He is a concert pianist, songwriter, producer, composer, and arranger. Since his youth, he has been blessed with opportunities to perform in several states across the country and abroad.
Interview Questions asked by SNMA National Vice-Chairperson of the Publications Committee , Jonathan R. Batson.
Good day Lawrence , thank you for joining me to answer questions about your career path and journey in medicine for our premedical membership. It is much appreciated.
1. What inspired you to pursue becoming a doctor?
My motivation to pursue a career as a physician developed from childhood. The son of a pastor, I would often accompany my father when he visited his sick and elderly members. I would note the way in which he consoled them, and sought to bring comfort to their situation. I watched as their eyes gleamed from the simple fact that someone took the time to care about their suffering. These were some of the first moments I witnessed the mutual benefits that come from serving others. Also, I was fascinated by the tall individuals in the long white coats (I was very short as a child lol). I thought that these men and women were heroes; they took very bad situations and made them better. Having spent a great deal of time reading Dr. Ben Carson’s books, I relished the moments I could be inside the hospital and witness the healing process. It was in those moments that I decided to become a physician. Unfortunately, I have also watched two grandparents pass away from cancer, and remember the helplessness I felt in those moments. I understand the fear that is associated with illness, and how it translates to family members and others. Through clinical exposures, I have seen that most times people simply want to be heard, and feel as if someone cares about their ailment. I seek to create effective change in the community in which I practice. Uniting compassion with knowledge, I want to reach beyond the illness and ease the hearts and minds of my patients.
2. What challenges did you face as an undergraduate student? Was there ever a time when you felt discouraged or someone discouraged you from being a doctor? How did you handle that?
Perhaps the greatest challenge during my undergraduate experience was trying to balance all of my academic pursuits. I majored in biology upon entering college, but realized that these years would be the last for me to truly develop my gift for music. I have been playing the piano for the last 14 years of my life, and have been blessed with opportunities to perform across the country and abroad. An avid songwriter, I decided to major in Music Composition & Recording Arts. I remember semesters where I would be taking several difficult music and science courses, work 2-4 jobs throughout the week, and be very involved in extracurricular activities (such as music ensembles, MAPS, Alpa Chi National College Honor Society, etc.). It would be stressful, but I found that staying busy kept me focused and helped me to achieve academically. I am grateful to have never had anyone directly discourage me from becoming a physician, well unless someone suggested that I pursue music full time. My family and friends were very supportive of that decision. However, I did encounter those who questioned the route that I chose. They questioned my ability to handle the science curriculum with the additional stresses of music classes; scared that I wouldn’t be a competitive medical school applicant as music major. Though appreciative of the concern, I am so grateful that I did not focus on the pessimistic opinions of others. I was blessed with so many positive life-changing experiences throughout my college matriculation, and I have no regrets about my undergraduate studies.
3. Have you participated in any summer programs and if so, please share with us how it has impacted you?
In college, I was privileged to have been 1 of 11 students chosen nationally to spend two summers in Washington, DC as a scholar with the Institute for Responsible Citizenship. The Institute for Responsible Citizenship prides itself in preparing “high-achieving African American men for successful careers in business, law, government, public service, education, journalism, the sciences, medicine, ministry, and the arts.” While a scholar I met some of the most powerful leaders in the private and public sectors of our country, took classes in economics and government, and spent two summers interning in my field of interest. I spent two summers interning with some of the finest surgeons in the DC metropolitan area, gaining approximately 640 hours of clinical and surgical observation. It was during these times that I reconfirmed my calling to medicine. In the summer of 2010 I interned for 8 weeks, approximately 320 hours, with Dr. Ronald Childs of Commonwealth Orthopedics. In these weeks, my eyes were opened to the realities of being a physician. After observing for a few weeks, I was granted the opportunity to interview patients in the clinic, preceding their interaction with Dr. Childs, to note their chief complaint and history. This information I would present to Dr. Childs, and we would discuss treatment options. I also spent two days a week in the operating room of Fairfax Inova Hospital observing various spine, trauma, and orthopedic oncology operations.
In the summer of 2011, I spent 8 weeks interning with Dr. Terry Thompson, the Charles H. Epps, Jr. Professor and Chairman of Orthopedic Surgery at Howard University Hospital. Spending at least 8 hours a day in the hospital, I obtained approximately 320 hours of surgical and clinical observation. I worked closely with the attending and resident physicians discussing patient presentation, history, treatment plan, and expected outcome. I also learned the fundamentals of interpreting radiographs dealing with various orthopedic presentations. Over those two summers, I spent 16 weeks living in the dorms with some of the brightest young minds in this country, and I have formed life-long friendships. From this experience, I have been challenged to not only be a productive member of society, but to aid where and whenever I can. In the summer of 2012, I spent 6 weeks at the University of Connecticut Health Center in their MDPP MCAT Prep Track 1 Program. It was a very rigorous program that included a Kaplan MCAT prep course, cultural competency courses, personal development workshops, research-based lectures, and mock interview sessions. I was also able to shadow Dr. Cato Laurencin in the time that I spent at the Health Center. This program was very beneficial in not only preparing me for the MCAT, but also for the AMCAS application process and interviews. Everyone I encountered at the health center was very kind, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the northeast.
4. Why do you believe that diversity matters in medicine?
I believe that it is crucial that healthcare professionals be able to relate with the people that they are serving. As a future physician I understand that I will treat people from a plethora of different backgrounds, and I must be sensitive to cultural differences. A medically diverse environment will give fresh perspectives on how medical care is given. Sickness and disease affects people of every culture, and one must be competent to address the needs of a diverse patient population. On a personal level, I know that I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much if I did not have mentors and individuals who encouraged and inspired me; men and women who looked like me. Unfortunately, many minorities shy away from the healthcare profession because they did not have anyone to encourage them from an early age. Especially in underserved communities, there is a need for minority physicians who will set precedence and encourage young people to unwaveringly aspire after their dreams. I believe that increasing the diversity of healthcare professionals will serve as inspiration for the young people of this nation, and will aid in battling the great disparity of minority physicians.
Below are links to a few of Lawrence’s piano arrangements/performances
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