At a pediatrician’s office, two distressed parents brought in their child. He had been crying, almost screaming, for the past 48 hours. The parents had previously brought him to an urgent care clinic, where he was given an antibiotic. Still, it hadn’t seemed to help. The child was clearly in pain, and the parents wanted an answer.
Eric Burdge ‘19, who was shadowing the pediatrician at the time, watched as the patient was able to be properly diagnosed within ten minutes following a conversation between the physician and the patient’s parents. “It took a physician’s expertise, but also taking the time to have a really empathetic conversation with the parents. That’s what it took to get a proper diagnosis,” says Burdge. His passion for primary care was born.
When he received a phone call during the spring of his senior year informing him of his acceptance into New York University’s Long Island School of Medicine, he was overjoyed.
“It felt like I won the lottery,” he says.
Burdge was one of only 24 students accepted into this brand-new medical school at NYU. As members of the inaugural class of the Long Island School of Medicine, and as part of a promise announced by NYU in 2018, Burdge and his classmates have all received full-tuition scholarships for the duration of the program.
“I’m in this fantastic program, which is an opportunity that most are not so fortunate to have, so it’s one that I take very seriously,” he says. “Every day when I walk into class, it’s a new adventure, and I’m open to that adventure.”
The opportunity was perfect for Burdge, who has taken the next step to becoming a primary care physician. This accelerated three-year program provides a special focus on training students in primary care; the full-tuition scholarships allow Burdge and his classmates to pursue this vital area of medicine without added financial stress.
Interpersonal skills that are particularly important for a primary care physician—listening to others, developing and maintaining positive relationships—Burdge found to be reinforced throughout his undergraduate experience on the Heights. “My time at Le Moyne gave me a mindset that saw the value in how to talk to people and how to value personal relationships, and the impact that a quality relationship can have on a person,” he says.
As an undergraduate biology major with minors in chemistry and psychology, Burdge found that his classes not only provided him with scientific knowledge, but also with an inclusive perspective that is crucial to a career in primary care. “We kept it in a mindset of, ‘How does this apply to all people?’” says Burdge. “And when I say, ‘all people,’ that includes a special focus on the impoverished, the homeless, the hungry, those at risk for poverty. It changes the mindset … It’s thinking about things from the perspective of others, especially those who haven’t been as fortunate as I was, and maintaining that mindset throughout all aspects of life.”
Along with this inclusive mindset, Burdge continues to carry with him the compassion, determination and deep sense of purpose that characterizes the tight-knit community at Le Moyne.
“I didn’t meet one person at Le Moyne who was the ‘clock-in at 9, clock-out at 5, I checked my boxes, and that was it’ type of person,” he says. “Every single professor and faculty member wants to go above and beyond.”