While my medical school classmates were deep in their sub-I’s, I took a year off and spent my days being chased off parking lots by grocery store managers. I often wondered what I was doing and how did I manage to drift so far from medicine.
I found myself in this unenviable position by trying to change the health care landscape. Health care in America is fragmented, expensive, and often ineffective. This has been self-evident for 20 years, yet the problem is getting worse. We have a health care system shaped largely by government policies and government dollars, and, conversely, we have a federal budget that is shaped largely by health care spending. Since I wanted to be an agent of health care reform, I thought the obvious way to do that was to run for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Sure, it is unconventional to run for federal office as a first-time candidate, to have no money or donors, and to have lived in the district for less than 3 years, but these are, in medical lingo, soft contraindications. The mechanics of running for public office is pretty much the same no matter which office—you spend your days begging for votes or for money, which in turn helps you beg for votes. You get the distinct feeling of being a panhandler, replete with being chased off from grocery stores. The only difference is that as a candidate, you are better dressed. People innately realize this because while many are politically opinionated, few ever imagine slumping to the level of a political candidate.