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Posted by Carolyn Bernardo on October 19, 2018
In our "Life After Bing" series, we bring you quick interviews with alumni who are leaders in their fields, trail-blazers. Find out how these alums got to be where they are now, and how Binghamton shaped their lives.
Alumnus Adam Fox is the section chief of trauma surgery at Rutgers University Medical School. And while he holds titles of associate trauma medical director of the NJ Trauma Center at University Hospital, associate medical director of the NorthSTAR aero medical program, he still found the time to do a quick interview with us. Since graduating, Adam has stayed very active with Binghamton, especially with Harpur students and Harpur's Ferry. Thanks to much of his hard work, Adam was instrumental in bringing "Stop the Bleed" to Binghamton University. Read his story and get inspired!
I grew up on Long Island and attended Binghamton (when it was still SUNY Binghamton and we were the Colonials) from 1988 to 1992. I graduated with a BA in political science. Despite my poli-sci track, I was pre-med and ended up with two medical degrees, finally completing my training as a trauma surgeon and intensivist. I am currently the section chief of trauma at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and interim trauma medical director of the NJ Trauma Center at University Hospital in Newark, N.J.
I have been fascinated with medicine since I was a child and pretty much always knew that I wanted to be a doctor. My time in Binghamton helped direct and inform me as to the specialty I wanted.
Certainly, from an academic perspective, success at Binghamton will almost guarantee the ability to handle the course work in medical school. I was confident that I could leave Binghamton with a solid ability to succeed at anything I put my mind to. Additionally, I became an active member of Harpurs Ferry, which further exposed me to clinical medicine.
Although possibly surprising, my favorite classes were in my political science major. There were a couple of science courses that I still remember to this day (thank you, Dr. Van Buskirk), but the poli-sci courses in general were more impactful, in that they helped shape my view of the broader world and not just the parochial world of medicine that I spend the majority of my time in.
That’s an interesting question. I think that when it comes down to it, one must go into medicine (or any other profession for that matter) for the right reasons. You really have to want to do it…it has to be in your heart. It’s nice if your parents or relatives want you to be a doctor, but if you don’t really want it or are not motivated to do it, the training and life are really challenging. Without an obvious love for it, it might be really hard to muddle through when faced with the inevitable difficulties. Being trapped in a job (regardless of what it is) that you don’t like is setup for an unhappy life.
The other thing I would say as it relates to loving what you do is have an understanding of what you are about to get into. I highly encourage anyone interested in medicine to spend time in the health care environment. Exposure to the profession before you commit will help you make the decision on if you truly possess that desire. Once you identify what you like, be true to yourself and work hard to get there.
Although I have been lucky enough to be influenced and mentored by several people, if I really have to choose, my parents and a fellow Binghamton graduate have been the biggest.
My parents have always been incredible supporters of my choices in life and, more importantly, taught me to work hard for what I want. From a purely clinical perspective, however, Dr. John Pryor ’88 has been the greatest influence on my career. He was my mentor during training, and his leadership, mentorship, skillset and humanism are constant in my life and practice. At one challenging point during my training, he sent an email with five questions about patient care that I now have framed on my desk. I see these questions every day and strive to satisfy their conditions. Unfortunately, Dr. Pryor was killed in action while serving as a surgeon in Iraq in 2008.
It’s not necessarily about how smart you are (although you need that as well) but really the motivation to perform at such a high intensity level.
Although I have made some mistakes, they have luckily been few and far between. We are all human, after all. The first part in dealing with mistakes is to recognize that you will make them. Then you should allow some time to beat yourself up over it (depending on how bad it was). Following that, however, should be a very intellectual internalization of how you can improve and prevent it from happening ever again.
Carolyn Bernardo is the advancement communications manager at Binghamton University. As a Binghamton native, she is passionate about the area and about the University.
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