We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:
Lawrence “Mark” Knab
Northwestern University/Northwestern Memorial Hospital – Chicago, IL
While there were many memorable experiences at Georgetown University Medical School, there is one that seems imprinted on Mark’s training as a physician. It took place during his first year anatomy class while working with cadavers. When Mark saw the face of his first cadaver, he was struck with something rather profound. Though having meticulously dissected different regions of the body for months, discovering first-hand the intricate details and wonders of the human body, he had not seen her face. The day that dissection included the face, it was a strange collision of worlds in which the anatomical basis for human life through anatomy became alive again in seeing her face and imagining what she was like. This important lesson ingrained in him the ideal of always approaching a patient first as a human being, not simply an anatomical specimen with a disease.
The general surgery program at Northwestern University provides a rigorous academic training in surgery while providing an environment conducive to teamwork and collaboration. The most overwhelming factor that drew Mark to the program was simply what he saw in the current residents. They seemed to legitimately care for and have a vested interest in their patients. Residency for them was not just a job where they spent the majority of their time but something they enjoyed doing.
From the first time Mark observed an open heart surgery as a high school student, he knew that medicine was a field that would allow him to really impact a person’s life in a special and unique way. The idea of cutting into a person to rearrange their anatomy, which was in this case supplying blood flow back to the heart, was a true inspiration both then and even now when he scrubs into a case. It provides him with the opportunity to help others in a tangible, acute way with the hope of alleviating or preventing suffering of some kind.
The most significant sacrifice Mark has made to earn his medical degree, which has continued through his residency, is time spent away from family and loved ones. While helping others in this unique way is incredibly gratifying, it requires an immense time commitment that is costly. Those in Mark’s personal life have had to be very understanding and patient to allow Mark to become the surgeon he dreams of being.