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January 22nd 1998




What does golf have to do with being a doctor?
by Kevin Hara
March 8 1998

Nothing honestly, except that doctors often play golf. Yet, if you look below the surface, golf is a highly specialized profession that requires a unique combination of skill, mental strength, drive, and dedication. All of these things are also prerequisites to being a good physician.

So, who am I, and why should you bother reading this? Well, my name is Kevin Hara, I am nobody famous, but you can think of me along the lines of Casey Martin. Casey Martin is a young man who only wants to play golf, and has the rare blend of poise, desire, and ability. He also suffers from the rare circulatory disease that has made walking a monumental effort. Yet in spite of the tremendous pain, he has excelled at every level, including winning the Lakeland Classic Tournament in January. The PGA tried to rule that allowing him to ride a cart would be an unfair advantage, but fortunately the law was on his side, and correctly decided he could use the cart. It should have been a simple, straightforward decision, yet it was not. Why? Because policy makers undoubtedly still have prejudice against disabled persons.

This is the case in my situation as well. I am a quadriplegic, due to a spinal cord injury which I suffered in an accident one week after my high school graduation. I became disabled through no fault of my own - I fell off a trampoline, and I was not drinking or using any type of drugs. I did not ask to become disabled, nor did Casey Martin. Yet, he was penalized for it, just as I am. The consequences of dealing with a major disability are severe enough that nobody should be made to suffer more simply because he or she is disabled. In my case, I want to be a physician, and like Casey Martin, I am being unfairly denied. I honestly want to help people, and heal their physical problems. I believe there is no other reason to become a physician. And I have proven myself, time and again, to possess the right combination of skill, intelligence, drive, and compassion to become a physician.

While I admit I could not become a surgeon, and lack the dexterity to perform some of the physical procedures, there is no reason I could not function very well as a radiologist. Lest you think I am saying that becoming a doctor is easy, I assure you, that is not the case. I have been told by at least a dozen physicians that they see no reason I cannot become an excellent doctor. I graduated cum laude in 3.5 years from Georgetown University, in spite of not being able to write for the most part. I took the MCAT, Medical College Admission Test, having to dictate answers to organic chemistry and physics problems, and scored well above average, including a perfect score on the biological science section. In addition, I completed my Master’s Degree in Biology with nearly a 4.0. I also took a class for first year medical students, and was in the top third. I do not like to promote myself in this manner, or seem arrogant. It is just that I know that the schools have already judged me on the basis of my disability rather than my abilities. It seems to me that a capable physician should be able to relate well to people, use his/her knowledge, be able to come up with a good plan, and carry it through. All of these are things which I can do. Furthermore, all I really want is to help other people, and yet few medical schools seem to want to give me that chance.

People like myself and Casey Martin have to work very hard just to have an average day. If we are given the opportunity to perform those duties which we love, those which are our dreams, then we will not only relish them, we will thrive. We know how precious a single opportunity is, and we will work harder than anyone else, not because they don’t appreciate their position, but because we do so tenfold. I know how many people take things like walking for granted. Casey Martin does not. Certainly I do not. If we have the talent and the desire, why are we not given a chance?

I would be interested to hear any advice, help, and/or comments.

Kevin Hara
March 8 1998

E-mail Kevin at:

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