After graduating from the University of Rochester with a degree in psychology, Barry Paul thought he had found his calling. He so enjoyed the six years he spent working in clinical and academic labs that he wanted to move on to a similar but more challenging environment. So while he worked, he also studied at Thomas Jefferson University, earning a master's degree in pharmacology with a concentration in drug development.
A great job at a major pharmaceutical company soon followed, allowing Paul to excel in biomarker research and work with a team that successfully launched a major drug for cancer patients. But creating and marketing pharmaceuticals didn't provide Paul the contact he wanted with a wide variety of patients. He yearned to be more involved in people's overall wellness and have a hand in their care at an earlier stage.
"I got disillusioned with not having that kind of contact with patients," says Paul. "I wanted to have more of an impact in their day-to-day lives. I wanted to do more to help save lives."
So, already in his thirties, Paul, now 34, shadowed a physician at a hospital in Philadelphia, then searched for the best medical school.
He settled on the Miller School in part because the University of Miami came with superlative recommendations. His father, brother and sister-in-law are all proud ‘Canes.
Paul was also an ideal candidate for the Miller School, which has long been proud of its ability to attract a diverse group of freshmen each year, brilliant students of varied ethnic backgrounds, ages, experiences and family status, equalized by their passion for medicine. Paul, who was married and about to become a father, began his studies last summer at the regional campus at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
"I was already settled in a career and was about to make a big step into something new,'' Paul says. "I was looking for a great medical school where I could easily fit in.‘'
Indeed, since he began at UM in the fall, Paul has settled well into the demanding dualities of student and husband/father. Through trial and error, he is fine-tuning a system that leaves him with quality time for his wife Jennifer and 9-month-old son Lucas, and enough of the countless hours needed to stay afloat in medical school.
"I am still trying to achieve the perfect balance," says Paul. "Jennifer is a physician's assistant so she understands a lot of what I am going through. I have great support at home and I'm finding the same at school."
The transition to medical student life, Paul says, has been made easier by the small classes, easy access to faculty and the emphasis on problem-based learning.
"Barry has gotten off to a great start,'' says Daniel Lichtstein, M.D., senior associate regional dean for medical education. "He has superb communication and interpersonal skills, which have served him very well in the small-group settings. These same skills will help to make him an outstanding physician."
They're already making Paul a passionate physician-in-training.
"I like talking to patients and helping them through what is usually a difficult time," says Paul. He also plans to keep a hand in medical research. "I'm keeping my options open," he says. "What I'm sure of now is that I want to treat patients. That's my passion."