Sean Sales '08 is in medical school.
What is your life story since graduation? Have you traveled? Do you have a family? What interesting experiences have you had?
Before I graduated from Wheaton I secured employment as a full-time personal hospice caregiver for a gentleman with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It was an incredibly rewarding (and challenging) experience. God taught me to be less selfish, to appreciate my own health, and to see how He can use even suffering for His glory. The man I worked for led at least three people to faith in Christ because of his illness!
After a year of working for him I trained my successor because I was hoping to start medical school. God had other plans... I applied to medical school, and waited to hear. During that summer of waiting I had the joy of volunteering at Glen Eyrie, a beautiful castle and estate built at the foot of Pike's Peak by Gen. Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs. It now functions as a conference center, and the international headquarters of the Navigators. I worked alongside students from 17 nations from 5 continents while completing an internship in cross-cultural communication and discipleship. At the end of the summer I got wait-listed for medical school. My boss at the Glen asked me stay on and work for a year while I re-applied to medical school and received more discipleship training from the Navigators. I gladly accepted.
That year was defining in many ways. In March I both interviewed at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine (UIC), and asked my-now-wife Rebekah McAuley '09 to start courting towards marriage. I then received my acceptance letter to medical school at UIC on my birthday. A year later we were married by Chappy K.
We have since been happily married for 3+ years, and I am a three months from (finally!) graduating from Med School. Following graduation I will pursue Family Medicine as my specialty.
Could you share why you want to be a doctor, and what you hope to do with medicine?
I have wanted to be a doctor for a long time because of the unique opportunity it gives to meet people when they are facing some of life toughest challenges. Medicine and the Gospel fit well together; Jesus brings us spiritual wholeness through faith in Him, but also He spent a large part of His time ministering to people with various physical ailments. I consider it a privilege to minister to people in their physical distress, and hope to show my patients the way to the Great Physician here and overseas.
Can you talk about ways in which your history might be helping you in medical school? Are there tangible connections between your training in history and the work you are doing at medical school?
Probably the biggest advantage I have over my peers is written communication skills. With a history degree you become very proficient at expressing yourself in writing. Believe it or not, doctors have to write a lot in their patients' charts, but they are not always great at it. Also, being able to persuasively argue a point - such as why you think a patient should be diagnosed a certain way - is hugely important once you start your clinical rotations during your third year of medical school.
Outside of your professional training, are there ways that your history major has enriched your life
Absolutely! It has helped me retrace my family history several centuries into the 1400s. And every time I travel somewhere (even for residency interviews) I love to explore and experience the place through historical lenses.
What advice would you provide to current or future history majors about making the most of their studies and degree?
Do not specialize too early. Take advantage of the breadth of Wheaton. Take a wide array of classes to get a feel for what you most enjoy. God has gifted you in unique ways, so discover what they are! Once you have, dive in deeply. Your time in undergrad will go a lot faster than you expect.
If you had to do it again, would you still major in history? If so, why?
Yep! It was a wonderful balance for me. I had to do pre-med to be prepared for medical school but I always enjoyed coming to history classes and reading the books the professors assigned.