This Medical Student’s Story Of Defeating The Odds To Pursue Her Medical Degree While Living With Disabilities Will Move You To Tears.


Medical school is hard more difficult than most people can understand. Even under the best circumstances, medical students will face a number of challenges that will test your commitment and your sanity. With rising burnout rates, stagnant residency caps, and an intensely grueling course load, the decision to attend medical school is not one that should be taken lightly.

Now imagine having to go through medical school while living as a patient. One medical student, Claudia Martinez, knows this reality all too well. In the past year she finished up her second year of medical school – and also underwent 6 brain surgeries, multiple shunt surgeries, multiple feeding tube surgeries, and multiple hospitalizations. In February 2017, during her last brain surgery, Claudia suffered a stroke to her brainstem. She was unable to function from the neck down and had to relearn how to feed, bathe, dress herself and how to walk again…while never letting go of her dream to become a doctor.

Walking up to the admissions desk I knew the routine. I stretched out my arm for my hospital band. A name, a number, and a doctor were what defined me during my many hospital stays. It was simple; my brain was too large for my skull. Brain surgery after brain surgery has occupied my life for many years, all while I have been studying to become a doctor.

I just finished my 2nd year at McGovern Medical School in the Texas Medical Center. I have always wanted to become a doctor, but I never thought I would be working towards that dream while being a patient myself. I’ve had 6 brain surgeries, multiple shunt surgeries, multiple feeding tube surgeries, multiple hospitalizations and in February 2017, during my last brain surgery, I suffered a stroke to my brainstem. I was unable to function from the neck down. I had to relearn how to feed, bathe, dress myself and how to walk again. Everything we do and take for granted in every day life I had to relearn.


I always hoped for the day I’d be cured. When I’d no longer be the patient, only the doctor, because for so long I was made to believe the two could not exist at the same time. You are the patient or you are the doctor.

As I sit here in the hospital during one of my occupational therapy sessions practicing how to do a physical exam on a patient, in a way, I hope I am never cured. Perhaps I am not meant to be a “normal” doctor, but a voice to bridge the gap of those who are doctors, but also patients.

Over the years, many doctors, professors, advisors told me to quit medical school. They said, “Your medical history is too extensive”, and “You don’t have the functioning you need”, and “It would be impossible for you to continue school while being a patient in the hospital so much”The more they told me the more I started to believe they were right.

Read Claudia’s full story at the original article posted here.

Ariel Jacoby
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