Pivot Point – Alden Landry, MD, MPH
Name: Alden Landry, MD, MPH
Title: Co-Director – Tour for Diversity in Medicine; Attending Physician – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine
Nickname on Tour: Dad
Hometown: Baytown, Tx
College: Prairie View A&M University
Medical School: University of Alabama School of Medicine
Residency: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency Program
Specialty: Emergency Medicine
I knew I wanted to be a doctor for a long time, somewhere between middle school or the beginning of high school. Although I received encouragement from my family, my grandmother was my biggest supporter to go into medicine. She was the only other person in the family to be involved in health care. She was a nurse and loved her job. Looking back, she was the first person to tell me that I could and should be a doctor.
I excelled in high school, taking as many advanced placement (AP) classes as possible and challenged myself with programs that promoted careers in the health professions. Senior year was going great, not only was I on pace to graduate with honors, I was also receiving acceptance letters from top tier colleges and universities. After much thought, I decided to attend Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) – a Historically Black College & University (HBCU) in Prairie View, Texas. Prairie View gave me the opportunity to participate in a Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) called Pre-medical Concepts Institute (PCI) the summer prior to my freshman year. Thinking that it would be better to have that summer to myself instead of in a classroom – I declined. I planned on getting a summer job and hanging out with friends.
My life changed the night I went to a pre-graduation party. This was the party of parties – everyone was there and having a great time. Unfortunately, there was alcohol and drugs there as well. Just like in the movies, one thing led to another and the party quickly grew out of control and the cops came. When the police realized there was underage drinking going on they raided the party. At the time I was only 17, which meant my parents had to be called. I wasn’t arrested but held in police custody until my parents could pick me up. Needless to say, it was a long uncomfortable car ride home and an even longer next day.
The next day my father and I had a long conversation about the choices I’d made, the trouble I was in and the impact on my future. If I was 18, more than likely I would have been arrested. Had I been drunk or in possession of drugs as some of those who attended the party were, that would have warranted another set of issues. The discussion continued to include future plans and decisions, avoiding trouble and taking responsibility for myself and others. In the end, my father helped me to realize that I was making decisions for many of the wrong reasons and not thinking what consequences they would have on my future. It was then that I decided to call Prairie View back and request to be a part of the PCI program, because it was the best option for my future.
Participating in the PCI program was easily the best decision I made when it comes to my career. It jump started my pre-medical preparation, put me on track to graduating from PVAMU and ultimately getting accepted into medical school. As I look back at it all, I’m pretty sure those two bad decisions could have affected not only my college life but also would’ve had lingering effects on my professional trajectory. The silver lining was the conversation with my father and the decision to take advantage of an opportunity that I was ready to pass up.
Nowadays as an Emergency Medicine Physician, I see and treat people who make bad decisions on a regular basis. These decisions directly impact their health and wellbeing. Often times, I see younger patients who ended up in my ER via similar situations that I found myself in at that age – only many times they don’t end up as fortunate as I did. I often encourage these patients to think a bit more about their actions and the downstream effects, especially when it comes to alcohol and under-age drinking.