Cover Story Good Advice Feature Video Hot Topics

Meet a Real Medical Student

Name: Humberto Wong

Education: La Sierra University, Bachelor of Science in biology; Stanford University Medical School, second year


The Job: Humberto is in his second year of medical school, so most of his day is consumed with attending classes and studying until the wee hours of the night.When Humberto’s not studying, he conducts research with doctors on issues that impact the medical community, such as health care and physician satisfaction.Occasionally Humberto works volunteer shifts at the local hospital, where he sutures and hooks up IVs. And for fun he shadows physicians and visits with patients!

Words to Live by “Medicine is a career that can completely revolve around Christianity or not. It really depends on the person. For me there is nothing more important than to become an empathic God-fearing doctor who knows the limitations of science as well as its strengths.”

Medicine for you?

Consider Medicine as a college major if you're crazy about:
•compassion for the environment (those rain forests still need help)
•an interest in the medical field (maybe you’ll find the cure for cancer)
•a natural curiosity for the life system (now you’ll know all about photosynthesis)

Avoid Medicine as a college major if you get nauseated by:
• are squeamish about nature (can’t be shy when you’re dissecting)
• can’t stand math and science (few papers, but equations galore)
• don’t like or aren’t good at memorization (exactly how many different types of plants are there?)


Medical Student

“Are you ready for this?”

“Wait until I make a tourniquet for my finger!”

“Come on, you don’t need a tourniquet! It’s just going to be a little prick, and we don’t have to draw a pint or anything!”

“Wait—ow!” The guy winces in pain, yanking his hand away from his partner.

Similar yowls and accusations echo throughout the room. People are holding their blood-oozing fingers after their lab partners stabbed them. Now each person has to collect a sample of their own blood with a plastic dropper, then empty it into a glass test tube.

A strange underground cult ritual? Naw, just another day as a biology major.

My excursion into the world of a biology major was alienating, to say the least. Talk of bacteria, fermentation, and agglutination was foreign to me, the classic English major.

On the day I visited an immunology lab session, the students were busy taking blood samples to determine their blood types (described above). Although they offered to evaluate my blood, I politely declined. I’d seen the playful ferociousness with which they’d pricked each other. (As an English major I’d proofread classmates’ papers, but I never asked for blood.)

“So, is it fun?” I ask Bobby Torrey, a senior biology major at La Sierra University.

“I really enjoy it,” he says. “The thing is, biology deals with so many aspects of life. You study stuff on many different levels, and in the end you get to see how everything combines.”

Biology is, in fact, defined as the study of life—whether it be the tiniest cell of a plant or the largest muscles in a human body. Every living element is a possibility for scrutiny by the biologist. And by scrutiny, I mean meticulous examination.

Biology majors are expected to take classes on cells, plants, and animals. And we’re talking about classes that require you to know the scientific names of parts of those cells, plants, and animals that you can’t see with the naked eye.Intense and painstaking? Well, it has its definite rewards—that’s what Bobby says.

On Course: OK, Bobby. Being that I’m not the science type of person, tell me, why did you choose biology as your major?

Bobby: First of all, I find biology very fascinating. There are so many new things going on all the time—so many new concepts to learn about the intricacies of the body and how all living organisms work. The body is like a machine, and it’s amazing how everything comes together to create life.Second, I’d like to go into medicine. Biology is a really good way to build a foundation. I’ve taken many classes that will help me later in the medical field.

OC: Well, what about the labs? My college roommate was a biology major, and she was always in some lab during the afternoons.

Bobby: Actually, the labs are the fun part, because you actually get to experience what you’ve been learning. It’s not really the difficult part of the class—it’s just to help you put your knowledge to use. There are two parts to biology: the concepts, then the application.

OC: So there’s a real hands-on approach involved?

Bobby: Yeah. For example, one of the more interesting classes I took was up in Rosario (a La Sierra-affiliated biology camp in Washington State). In the morning I attended classes, and the afternoons were spent in labs that took place out by the beach. I was right on the Washington coast, and the feeling was great—watching whales swim by, wading in tide pools, searching for flowers.I was surrounded by biology. I did experiments right out in the field.

OC: But that’s out of the ordinary. I mean, you won’t be at the beach every day. What about classes that take place on campus. Have you taken any interesting ones?

Bobby: I took a histology class. Histology is the study of different tissues in the body. In that class I looked at different cells, layers of skin, and features of the skin.

I saw muscles and nerve tissues, heart tissues, tissues lining the abdomen—all under the microscope. It’s an anatomy class on the microscopic level.

OC: I want to know where the skin came from. Don’t tell me you were scraping each other’s skin—

Bobby: We had premade slides!

OC: You seem very enthusiastic about biology. ButI have to ask—is there anything you hate?

Bobby: Sometimes biology can get to a point where you’re just memorizing the facts, and it shouldn’t be that way. But when you’re pressed for time and have so much material to cover, you just have to memorize. Straight memorization of concepts can get tedious.

OC: I suppose that with a major that deals directly with the circle of life, the answer to this question is obvious. But how do you see your Christianity tying into biology?

Bobby: When you study biology, you’ll end up learning about the many theories on how life began, particularly evolution. But as a biology major, I’ve come to believe even more strongly in creationism. I see the bigger picture!

There are so many intricacies, processes, and phenomena in nature, and they all correlate. There has to be a God putting all of this together. There’s no way life could just pop together and be so perfect.

OC: So biology has actually enhanced your view of God?

Bobby: It’s enhanced my view that there actually is a God.

OC: Well, before I finish, I have to ask a less serious question. In some of my past interviews students have complained about the amount of papers they have to write. Do you write papers?

Bobby: That’s what’s really cool. You’re not writing papers all the time. I hate writing papers more than anything else. I’d rather do an experiment than write a paper any day.

OC: Enough said. If you don’t mind, I’ll just go and write up this article now.

Top | Home