You read in Rutgers Magazine about SmartMedTravel.com, the resourceful website that Randon Hall RC'04 co-founded to help medical students save money. Here, Hall talks about his pathway to becoming a doctor as well as his expectations for the future.
| Randon Hall RC'04.|
Did you always want to be a doctor?
I originally was interested in becoming a physical therapist or a teacher because of my strong interest in sports, science, and kids. But while a sophomore at Rutgers, an adviser asked me if I had ever thought about being a physician. For whatever reason, it had not really crossed my mind as a possibility until that time. After some investigation and a few medical experiences, I knew that this profession was the best way to combine all my interests into something I could do for the rest of my life.
How did Rutgers prepare you for medical school?
Besides coursework, Rutgers forced me to be a cultured, independent individual. Rutgers is a huge place where, if you lack the initiative and personal skills, you can certainly get lost along the way. Having to juggle jobs, sports, and classes at a large urban campus connected by a vast busing system takes a little extra motivation than the average college student's daily grind. Also, having diverse classes, roommates, and friends—diversity is one of Rutgers' hallmarks—has given me insight into the culture of other people, and I'm extremely proud of that. So overall, I think the independent motivation I learned from my success at Rutgers has certainly helped me to progress through medical school, and I know that the diverse experiences I encountered there will guide me in my profession.
How does life in Tennessee compare to New Jersey?
There are a ton of things that I miss about New Jersey and Rutgers. With the price of gas these days, I truly miss the public transportation in New Jersey because it is really non-existent down here. Otherwise I miss the fact that wherever you are in New Jersey, the beach is at most only a few hours away rather than a seven-hour drive to Florida. Honestly, the biggest thing I miss is the people at Rutgers as well as New Jersey as a whole. I truly miss meeting and getting to know such a diversity of people that the Garden State has to offer.
Can you talk about your extracurriculars at Rutgers and Vanderbilt?
At Rutgers I was involved in quite a few activities and programs. I taught an MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) course as well as tutored organic chemistry for a couple years. I was part of the Rutgers Club Soccer team for three years and was a Scarlet Ambassador, giving tours and attending recruitment events, for a couple years as well.
At Vanderbilt, my favorite experience was being an Oasis Center Crisis Outreach volunteer. I spent one night a month patrolling the streets of Nashville looking to find and offer assistance to homeless children, runaways, and troubled teens. I also was the community liaison for the Shade Tree Free Clinic, which was created and run by medical students. Among other things, I worked as a minority recruitment liaison through the Office of Diversity, helping to increase the enrollment of underrepresented minorities at Vanderbilt.
What obstacles did you face at Vanderbilt?
My biggest challenge in medical school was not an academic challenge, but a social one. It was realizing that Nashville is nothing like New Jersey and there just isn't the same diverse set of people, events, and destinations that the East Coast offers. Not that Tennessee and Vanderbilt don't have their great attributes. However, it was difficult going to a new state, city, and school where most people don't act, talk, or look like me. In other words, culture shock.
What does the future hold for you?
I am currently a first-year resident in pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. When I finish residency, there is a relatively new position called a hospitalist that I hope to pursue. A pediatric hospitalist basically takes care of kids who get admitted to the hospital for any general pediatrics issue. I also plan to work at a teaching hospital at an academic center where I can work with residents and medical students.
What are your expectations for the Vanderbilt residency program?
I really have very few expectations besides little sleep and even less free time. I am excited about rotating through the various departments of pediatrics as well as working with my new colleagues.
What do you believe is the biggest issue that doctors contend with today?
I think the biggest issue facing doctors today is the challenge of providing everyone comprehensive care in the face of the current health care crisis. With over 40 million uninsured Americans and demands on physicians increasing at an unyielding pace, sooner or later something is going to give and the health of Americans will certainly suffer. Fortunately, there are many safety nets set up so that children can always receive the care they need. However, over the course of my career, I can certainly do my part in advocating and educating policymakers on behalf of pediatricians and children in order to progress toward a system where no one falls through the cracks.