[Please ignore any typos. This is a direct transcription for your benefit.]
Did you always want to be a doctor?
Pete: My first guest is Dr. Brandon Anderson and we’re going to talk to Brandon about it. Listen, when I just hear the “D.R.” the doctor in front of his name, he’s a medical doctor. He’s an E.R. doctor and I think my gosh, this guy had to go through school for a lot of years to become a doctor. And Brandon, the first thing I want to say it, just ask you when you were a kid, did you always want to be a doctor?
Dr. Brandon: I would say the first thing I wanted to be was an astronaut. Well, it becoming a doctor is just like an astronaut. You have Point A and Point Z and there’s a lot of letters in between to get to astronaut and doctor. But what, I’m no, early on I knew I, I, I love science, I love math. I kind of knew where, where my niche was in school and um, early on my dad’s a pharmacist so I had exposure to the healthcare industry and I pretty much knew early on it. That’s kind of the road I wanted to take.
What or who, if any, influenced you to be a doctor?
Pete: Let me ask you that because when I hear “Doctor,” a lot of times I think, okay, was great-grandpa and great-grandma doctor and then great-great in this family of doctors that pushed you to it. No, I mean your dad was a pharmacist. What’d your mom do?
Dr. Brandon: She’s a teacher.
Pete: And a teacher and you decide I’m going to be a doctor.
Dr. Brandon: It’s one of those things, you know, part of it is your kind of early on have an idea of what you want to do and then you research different things. And um, for some reason, you know, like I said, I had other opportunities to do different things, but it’s something I always had in my heart to do. But as you go through the journey, you know there are steps along it where you start to question it and things come up.
Describe the journey of becoming a doctor.
Pete: That’s what I want to dig in. So, I mean just passing the MCAT test, I know that had to be tough and a lot of work going in. But when you start medical school you see a lot of smiling faces and a lot of people now at the end of medical school, I’m going to guess the same. Smiling faces weren’t all there. Right? So, the first step was in college.
Dr. Brandon: So, just for a little bit of insight. Our college had in our freshman class, 800 people in about a hundred of them day one were [on the ] “pre-med” [track], so everybody kind of wanted to be a doctor; they wanted to be “pre-med.” So throughout the whole process, it’s a slow weed-out process because you have to take the hardest courses, you have to maintain certain GPA scores, certain scores on the tests… and not party as much. For instance, all of the science labs were on Friday; the big party night was Thursday night. So basically for your first year or two, you’re stuck in the library studying while everybody else is partying. So over time it kind of weeds out everybody. And then by the time I graduated out of the 100 or 110, I think eight of us got accepted into medical school.
How are those eight students who got medical acceptance letters different from the 100 in your graduating class who didn’t?
Pete: it’s amazing it. I made the reference to pro athletes before too. You think about, you know, the “elite of the elite” get the scholarship and they play in college and then the “elite of the elite,” the one percent or is going on.
Dr. Brandon: And I will say a misconception is it’s not the eight smartest by far. So, everybody thinks, “oh, you have to be the smartest to be a doctor.” You have to have some degree of intelligence. But by far, it’s the perseverance. And one of the things with me at an early age when I was in high school, I remember even to this date and my parents remember, I had a science teacher, chemistry teacher as a junior who went around the whole classroom and asked everybody in front of the classroom what they wanted to do. When it came to me, I said I wanted to be a doctor, and he kind of laughed in my face and said, “ah, you’re never going to be a doctor. You know, how hard it is to be a doctor?” And we come from a small school and I don’t think we had a graduating high school student who was a physician for like five years. So, that kind of always stuck with me. And I always tell people it’s sort of like a sports analogy. Somebody thinks the first-round pick, they get drafted in the fifth round. It’s always going to push them to go harder. Kind of like the Tom Brady, Tom Brady scenario, that kind of always pushed me. That was my motivating factor. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, but when things got hard, I always remember that time and it kind of got me through the hard times and I always tell people, especially like medical students that you know your motivation can be anything. Just make it something that works for you.
Advice for the 21-year-old struggling college student
Pete: That’s good. You know what’s great is I love this because now that teacher that that said, “oh, you’ll never make it,” and all that. Now, you can go back and punch him in the face and then medical care to even. Let me ask you this. What would you tell maybe your 21-year-old self that’s kind of struggling and you know, other folks are out partying and having fun? You’re not going down and really determined to get the grades necessary to pass, to get — what would you tell yourself?
Dr. Brandon: Well, one of the things is you know, look at what the goal is. Look at what the end result’s going to be. Don’t look at the moment because it’s such a long process. You go through, you have to take it step-by-step and you have to stay disciplined and focused, but don’t just live for that moment at the time. Just say, you know, it’s a long journey. You got to get through each step and set goals like small goals as you go along, and every time you reach your goal it gives you more self-confidence. It gives you more self-esteem. It makes you feel better. So that, I mean, the whole process of becoming a doctor is a 12-year journey, at least it was for me. And it was probably some of the 12 hardest years of my life and will always be. But it’s just if you just kind of go little by little set little goals and each time you achieve them, it makes it that much easier.
Pete: That’s fantastic. That’s it. That’s one thing, again, whether you want to be a doctor life or whether you’re a mechanic, you’re laying bricks, whether you sell widgets, whatever it is, having goals and compartmentalizing those goals and allowing yourself to celebrate when you reach a milestone and moving past it. That’s fantastic advice, I think it’s great. Let me ask you this. Do you have kids?
Dr. Brandon: Twin daughters.
Pete: Okay. Well, do either of them want to be a doctor?
Dr. Brandon: Well, the funny thing is Ashton, ever since she was about five, she loves animals. She wants to do is be a vet – a veterinarian. And still to this day she’s focused. That’s all she wants to do. Hayden, our other daughter, she does, she wants to be a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, so she’s probably gonna be the one who follows a little bit more in my footsteps, but I don’t push them to do it. I just, you know, when they’re still young and we, I just kind of tell them what it takes to do it and how much school work and grades and those types of things. But I think, in general, your children usually do kind of follow in some way your path that you’ve gone on and they’ve seen in our office, the books I’ve gone through and they’ve asked me, they said, “you’ve read all these books.” And I said, “Oh yeah, we’ve had to go through all the tests.” And so they grow up with it, so I think they’re going to be inclined to kind of follow the same type of, not maybe career, but field or that type of thing. So, but I do tell them it’s not easy and I do tell them, “you better get good grades,” But they do well in school.
Was the 12-years of work and perservance worth it?
Pete: Okay. One more question. You know, I love my job. I love what I do. I help people all day long. I help people find jobs sometimes when they’re at a very vulnerable point in their lives to having a tough time. Everybody you see is having a very tough time. That’s just part of life. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Dr. Brandon: So, obviously, the most satisfying thing with being a doctor is your interaction with the patients. Most of everybody, at least, I see in the emergency room are sick and that over time, wears on you; you don’t see a lot of healthy patients. But the interacting with the patients and the families trying to find the diagnosis, trying to do things to move things along and get them better. That’s by far the most rewarding thing we do as physicians. You know, everybody thinks physicians make a lot of money and “Oh, it’s like a glamorous.”
Pete: You can’t tell me you don’t. [Laughs]
Dr. Brandon: But you actually for the amount of time and effort you put into it where you have 12 years of your life, where you’re actually going into that, you know, financially it’s probably not the best course people can take, but it’s never about the money. And I know, I’m friends with neurosurgeons who make the top of the top for physicians and none of them do it for the money. They all do it for the love of what they like doing operations and surgeries and those things. So just about every physician I know, it’s about learning a skill that nobody else has and being able to use that skill for the betterment of your patients.
Pete: Have you ever been on an airplane? They say is there a doctor in the house.
Dr. Brandon: I have. [Laughs] We had it. I was on an airplane. I was actually a resident, so I was technically a doctor, but didn’t really know much about medicine because I think I was a first-year resident and intern, and a patient had a seizure and they went online and said, is there a doctor? And I had raised my hand and went over and then kind of make sure that the person was stable and then you go on a phone line with the airline physician and they go through the vitals and everything and they have to determine whether to divert the plane or not. And fortunately the patient, you know, the person was fine and we didn’t have to divert the plane. So then when we landed. I had to fill out a whole sheet, I won’t say what airline was but, and you had to give all your information and kind of almost like a short medical history note. And I told my wife, Amy, I said, you know, I’ll probably get a free airline ticket out of this or something. Although the plane was supposed to, it would have diverted. We’re like giving, I think it was a cross-country flight and never heard from them. [Laughs]
Advice for the fishers out there…
Pete: Oh boy. That’s another whole show. Well, you know, one last thing and we’re going to wrap up with here and I really appreciate you coming. I know, you know, you’re a very busy person; I appreciate you coming out. If I’m going to catch and, and we had a chance to talk before the show. We get to know each other a little bit. If I’m out for redfish out in the intercoastal mud minnows or shrimp.
Dr. Brandon: So here’s the fish and report [laughs] for the intercoastal, from JTB to Beach Boulevard area, early morning, late afternoon. Topwater. You got to fish the falling tide or the rising tide was going to be halfway through the tide and –they’re catching them like crazy. And the best topwater is the “Badonkadonk, Pearl White.” But now my neighbor just went out and he doesn’t top water fishline, he said he got like 5 or 6 hits, right away. He got a couple. So that’s the hot thing, right now.
Pete: Listen to this: not only did we have “Captain” Brandon Anderson, but we had Dr. Brandon Anderso. And all you hard workers out there, I hope you take something from this message, a nugget, that perseverance, having a goal and working hard towards that goal and not letting yourself get off track. That means a lot. Brandon, thank you very much for coming out.