My Key Club Story: Dr. Liang

My name is Dr. Wayne Liang, and I am a Pediatric Hematology-Oncology (children’s cancer) fellow physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. I am in my last year of training. I wanted to take this opportunity to share my journey with you. As a high school student, I was not sure what I wanted to be when I grow up. I took advanced level classes, played in the orchestra, and was a member of Key Club and other community service organizations. I knew I enjoyed learning and helping others. I thought about becoming a teacher, mental health counselor, diplomat, or even a youth minister. Becoming a doctor never really crossed my mind. To be honest, I did not think medicine was a good fit, since I enjoyed history, economics, and literature more than biology and chemistry. Medicine just seemed too science-y for me. It was through community service that I discovered my love for medicine. In high school, as a volunteer at a Red Cross blood donation center, I met people who volunteered to get poked by needles and give blood in order to save a stranger’s life. In college, as a camp counselor at a camp for seriously ill children, I discovered that I loved working with kids with cancer. Their resilience, generosity towards others, and love for life made a deep impression on me. Finally, while on a service trip to Kenya, I met so many children in desperate need of medical care. It was during this trip that I committed myself to pursuing a life of service through medicine. I knew the road ahead would not be easy, but these experiences provided me the motivation I needed to study hard in the sciences, tackle the MCAT, and get through medical school and training. Looking back, I am so glad to have found my path in medicine. The journey has been long (I graduated high school over 15 years ago), and it has not been easy. However, I absolutely love what I do. I have discovered that medicine is not just about medical knowledge, but just as much about compassion and serving others. Also, I get to do a little bit of all of the different careers I had imagined. I teach children and their families about cancer and treatment options. I support families through emotionally trying times. I help people navigate through conflict where there’s a difference in opinion on what to do. And I minister to others through practical service and compassion. The privilege and opportunity to do these amazing things is what sustains me in my work. If it were not for the service learning I was provided through Key Club and other community service organizations, I may not have discovered my love for medicine. However, this article is not about encouraging everyone to pursue medicine as a career, since that is not the right path for everyone. Instead, I wanted to encourage you, Key Club members, to explore and try out diverse opportunities to serve others. Through service, you may discover a passion you were not aware of, which then takes you on a journey you would not have otherwise imagined. I encourage you to take healthy risks and be open to unexpected opportunities. Finally, whatever you do, commit to doing it with excellence in service to others.