by Robert Levy, MD
There may be no more intense learning environment than what I experienced in medical school. That’s where I was exposed to the rigors of serious research in all its forms, two of which presented potential career paths in either theoretical or practical realms.
There are some academics who engage in research and learning simply for its own sake, and whose work may ultimately have direct impact on the course of human progress. I’ve always been in awe of Nobel Prize-winning theoreticians who come up with true “outside the box” concepts unaware of their ultimate human value, exemplified by Newton and Einstein. Personally, I’ve never had the inclination or the temperament to dedicate myself to something so esoteric that it might never be understood by anyone outside of a narrow field of interest.
While in med school, I got involved in the study of membrane physiology. I actually came up with a “membrane pore theory” so arcane that I feared I was the only one who could appreciate it or conceive of how it might ever be applied to patient outcomes. But that experience taught me something about myself: that I was an “outside the box” student interested in finding novel ways to solve patient problems.
Like most of my generation, much of my worldview was turned on its ear with the political events of the late 1960s. The assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy was a personal turning point for me. Here I was, researching amphibian neuromuscular junctions and preparing my findings for perhaps a handful of people on the planet who would actually care about them; the Kennedy assassination made me realize I might not actually be one of those who cared. In what was a true epiphany, I knew that my calling was to do something that mattered.
Eventually, over the course of my career as a physician, I answered that calling by creating alternative health care delivery systems that positively impacted large numbers of patients, and by teaching others how to adapt to new protocols of care. Those teaching moments led to better patient outcomes and truly became the cornerstones of my decades of personal and career fulfillment.
“Doctor” is a Latin word meaning “teacher,” so I suppose I’m not really straying far from my earlier career instincts when I get such positive feedback from those who enjoy my photographs today.
I’m a lifelong learner. Each picture I take teaches me something, and that alone energizes me. But when my images convey to others my own sense of discovery and my growing awareness of the world around us, my joy expands beyond the power of words.
I hope my photos continue bring my own sense of wonder to all who see them. Let us always be learning, let us always be excited by this amazing life we share!