I never even thought about being a physician; I went to college to be an engineer, but quickly discovered engineering was not my personality. So I took an aptitude test that said I was most suited to be a social worker or a car mechanic. I thought medicine was a nice balance between the two.
In 1965, when I was 25 years old, I went to Atlanta to start my internship in internal medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital. I was in the fifth class at the University of Florida medical school. Going from Gainesville, which was relatively small at that time, to the big-city hospital was a whole different world.
I spent time in the E.R. and in the wards. We worked every day and every other night, so we'd be off whenever we could get through at the end of the second day till the next morning. My dates usually consisted of falling asleep on somebody's couch. It was a wonderful experience. I made lifelong friends, there was a M.A.S.H. spirit-you were working desperately hard with people who were desperately sick. I learned a lot about the human condition. I went from medical school where I was an observer to where I was really the doctor. You're on your own pretty much except for your buddies. I stayed there off and on for seven years, with a two-year break for military service. You could say I grew up on this job.