Angie Aly is currently a senior Biology major and is very passionate about her future career and being involved in the world of medicine and patient care. She is currently working at a hospital where she monitors patients who have suicidal or homicidal thoughts or have attempted it. She also volunteers at events for children with leukemia. She is also a lab manager in her research lab at TCNJ, where she analyzes consumption of ethanol in rats and applies it to human behavior.
When asked how she decided what she wants to do, she realized that she grew up around people who had money, but never had access to medical care. They would spend millions on their house; their kids would get luxury cars for their 15th birthday, designer clothes, etc., but they never got their eyes checked or went to the dentist.
Angie recalls, “I have a friend whose mom had a severe lump on her breast. They obviously knew that it was most likely breast cancer, but she never went to the hospital. It’s not because they don’t have the money, they just didn’t have medical care because of their immigration statuses. They didn’t have insurance and would have to pay for her surgeries and treatments in cash. Seeing that unequal distribution made me really interested in treatment alone.” Eventually this made her more interested in this field of work.
She finds that these experiences in medicine don’t truly change you; rather they bring out a person’s core personality. However, she has learned a lot from her experience of working as a patient monitor. This experience has helped her realize that she definitely cannot be a nurse. “Since I am entirely passionate about treatment, more than patient interaction, this work experience has showed me the difference between nurses and doctors and how my interests lie more in becoming a doctor as opposed to a nurse. The two are pretty different.”
Although she enjoys her job and being able to be fully engrossed within the field, there are several challenges that come with it. Angie finds that these interactions with the patients are difficult. Patients have asked her to marry their son, marry them, ask her where she lives, and get a drink with them. Another challenge is “triggering” the patient and reminding them of someone: their ex, passed away loved one, etc. It’s important to not get offended and have to be prepared to defend yourself.
“My biggest challenge for me was when I had a little girl with leukemia talking about how she is in love with my hair and her family can’t afford to get her a wig. I was so torn on the inside. I mean she spent two hours just brushing my hair. Part of me was like “you can afford to make her a wig” but the other part of me was like “my hair needs to stay this long and wigs are so expensive.” It sounds so selfish saying it out loud, but yeah those were the inner debates and it kept me up for three hours that night. I’m happy to say she has a wig now with my hair.”
After reflecting on her experience she finds that at times it may seem blurry to think that she is actually making in impact on someone’s life because she is just sitting with them for 8 hours a day, when in fact Angie finds that you truly are making an impact. “A mom will never stop expressing her gratitude just because you asked if her son wants food. Something that small is really what makes me keep coming back. You have the job, so you don’t think it’s special but to those family members and even the patients, you are special to them.”
Keep doing your thing, Angie!