Now that Brian Le is a resident at Georgia Regents University, he has a clear path in front of him—one that includes a budding career as a rheumatologist. However, that wasn’t always the case. During medical school, Brian was plagued by doubt and aimlessness, until he completed a preceptorship funded by the Rheumatology Research Foundation.
During his third year of medical school, one of Brian’s parents became very sick and was diagnosed with a serious illness. He says it was a very difficult time, being sad and scared for his family while trying to keep up with his studies. “I remained in this mindset for quite some time,” Brian explains. “Soon enough, it really becomes normal to wake up and not feel any joy.” His feeling of hopelessness only got worse in December 2013, when his grandmother passed away. By the time Brian was approaching Match Day, when medical students are matched with residency programs, he couldn’t take part in the excitement spreading among his fellow students. “I was ambivalent, overwhelmed and upset by the lack of direction in my career and my ambitions. I felt exhausted.”
Then, Brian remembered his grandmother and her encouragement to follow his dreams. “One night, perhaps out of desperation, I decided to write down everything I wanted to accomplish in my life, from quick, easy tasks to grand, seemingly impossible goals. I also listed my interests, talents and experiences.” Among the list of Brian’s interests was rheumatology, which he had briefly experienced during a previous clinical rotation. He says rheumatology made the list that night because he remembered hearing a doctor explain Raynaud’s phenomenon to a patient and how it can be found as a criterion in other rheumatic diseases. Brian recalls, “He also mentioned that the causes of rheumatic diseases still aren’t clear yet. It was at that time that I realized rheumatology was a still a growing field and there was still a lot left to understand. And I liked that.” Brian says he was also intrigued by the lifestyle of a rheumatologist. “I could be actively involved in patient care, research and writing. Furthermore, working in a predominantly outpatient setting would afford me the personal time to care for my parents.”
Soon after, Brian began working with Laura Carbone, MD, in GRU’s rheumatology department. He says he told her about his intrigue with rheumatology, and she was very supportive. “She told me that if she were to do everything again, she would do it 100% and that she was very happy with her decision to pursue rheumatology.”