Published May 24, 2016
Jason Edwards, MD ’16, feels fortunate he did not have to leave Buffalo to attend medical school, and once his training is complete, he intends to practice medicine in Western New York.
But first the Niagara Falls native must leave the area this summer for his medical residency in New York City. Once finished, he definitely plans on returning home.
Edwards, who graduated from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in April, says the reason is the economic, academic and social renaissance that’s happening on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo.
“I want to come back and be a part of this medical movement,” he says. “I look forward to being a leader in the Buffalo community as it rises from the shadows of the fallen Rust Belt era and takes its new identity as a leader in medicine.”
Already, brand new, state-of-the-art medical and clinical facilities have opened, starting with the Conventus medical office building and Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center. Soon to follow are the opening of UB’s new medical school building and the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.
Edwards is looking forward to his internal medicine residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, but he is a committed Western New Yorker.
In fact, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology from UB in 2012, he was accepted into a medical school in Virginia.
But as the date for his departure grew near, the lifelong Western New Yorker was increasingly reluctant to move, so he turned down the offer, a story he recounted vividly as the class speaker at the medical school’s commencement ceremony.
“I was on the UB waiting list, desperately wanting to be a Buffalo med grad, and I continued to grip to the dwindling chances of getting in,” he said.
The night before the new semester, Edwards said, as his head hit the pillow he tried to “block out the feeling that I made the biggest mistake of my life.”
The next morning he was awakened by his mother, calling him frantically to come to the phone, where he received the news that a student had dropped out of UB’s Class of 2016, opening up a spot. To his utter amazement and relief, Edwards realized he would be starting medical school that day, after all.
“Because of the way I got in, I went into school with the attitude that this is such a gift,” he says. That feeling only grew stronger throughout his four years in medical school. He gives high marks to his fellow students and to the school’s faculty and staff, all of whom he said contribute to the experience.
“The culture here is that we all help each other. There’s never any scintilla of backstabbing or anything like that. It’s more like a think tank,” Edwards says.
“Even the kids who are at the top of the class, they’re sharing their study summaries with everyone else. The way they teach us here is that medicine is a team effort. It’s not a skill you can master alone.”
During Edwards’ graduation speech, he described being a doctor as “the best job in the world” and urged his fellow graduates to avoid falling prey to burnout and cynicism.
He suggested one way to avoid such pitfalls is to never forget how they first felt when they got accepted into medical school.
“Try to think back to that first surge of elation … the joy when you first told your parents, your friends, your significant others. That pride you felt. That smile you couldn’t wipe off your face. The first night you could not sleep from excitement,” he said.
“Remember that warmth you had in your heart when you knew you would have the privilege of helping people.”