Patrick Clarke; University of Connecticut class of 2015; Biological Sciences major; Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont class of 2022
To read more about Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, click here

Why did you choose to pursue a career in healthcare?

I grew up with an aunt who was a nurse, so I was always interested in healthcare. During my undergraduate years, I studied abroad with UConn in Cape Town and worked in a rural health clinic in a South African township. There, I learned more about the role of the physician and how I could incorporate an interest in healthcare with a career in global health. I then worked as an EMT in several other cities and states and committed to my path of becoming an emergency physician.

What were some meaningful extracurricular activities that you were involved in while at UConn?

UConn in Cape Town; I worked in a rural clinic, built a library at a high school in another township of Cape Town
Habitat for Humanity; I was the Vice President of the organization for one year, and led spring break trips to TX, AZ and CA to work on builds going on in these states
UConn Water Polo; What a fun team! Met some great people, traveled to some cool places, and played the best sport there is!

What were some challenges you have faced along your healthcare journey so far, and how have you overcome them?

I didn't have many healthcare role models growing up. I didn't know any doctors in my life and had a hard time envisioning a life for myself outside my hometown when I was younger. I also grew up in a pretty religious environment and came out as gay about six years ago now. So I had a number of bumps in the road in my personal life, combined with not getting the grades I wanted to during my first years of undergrad. I eventually turned it around, invested in my future career as a physician, and started churning out to get the results I wanted.

What did you do during your gap year(s) and what did you learn?

I took three years total. My first year I worked as an EMT, emergency department (ED) scribe, and a health informational management technician. I was looking for more of a challenge, so I moved out to Los Angeles to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a non-profit. I also got a second job as an ED scribe in a hospital in Downtown LA. I can not recommend taking some time off more. I learned so much about myself, what I like, how to survive in unknown situations, and how to take care of myself. It was a wonderful experience and I think everyone should take some time off between undergrad and medical school.

What are some ways that you take care of your mental health and overall wellbeing?

Daily meditation, almost daily exercise, good eating habits, therapy, medication. I didn't realize how much work maintaining my mental health in medical school would take, but I'm glad to have figured it out.

What advice do you have for aspiring pre-health students?

Get a therapist when you start pre-health school. Everyone can use a therapist or counselor. It's a tough road, take care of yourself.

What’s something that you wish you knew when you were in college?

You have the rest of your life to be a doctor. Take some time to get to know yourself first.