Nov. 6, 2017 — For fourth-year UF College of Medicine student Bryan Erb, practicing medicine involves more than a prescription pad. It requires a pair of open ears and the ability to empathize.
Erb has long been interested in neuroscience — how the dysregulation of neurotransmitters affects mental health, for example — and after completing two rotations in psychiatry, he became fascinated with the role of neuroscience in treating mental health.
“As a psychiatrist, you have the resources to help people with important issues. Patients open up to you, sharing intimate details of their lives,” he says. “There’s still a lot of stigma attached to seeking help. I’ve always had people in my life who’ve stayed with me through my weakest moments. I know how much that contributed to who I am. Being able to do the same for others is a good feeling.”
Erb inches ever closer toward his dream of completing a residency in psychiatry at a southeastern university, in part because he received the Alfred J. Dickhaus, M.D., Scholarship.
“Receiving my scholarship has made things a lot more manageable. I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree. As I am someone without the same background or resources as others, this has made a huge positive difference,” he says.
Erb counts his time in the U.S. Navy as another positive force in his life’s journey. From 2004 to 2009, he served as an information systems technician in Hawaii, working at the Naval Computer Telecommunications Area Master Station, the hub for all messaging within the Pacific fleet. He also spent a year with an embedded team in Afghanistan, training the Afghan army through computer classes and managing communications at the base in the Helmand province.
Erb says he’s noticed similarities in the dynamics among members of the Navy and classmates at the UF College of Medicine. A sense of camaraderie and morality permeate each environment.
“In both situations, you’re going through tough times together, and that builds close friendships,” he says. “Integrity was very important in the Navy, and it’s very much valued in the medical community as well.”
Erb describes the environment at the UF College of Medicine as a “family atmosphere,” welcoming to all.
“I’ve never felt like I couldn’t come to my faculty with any question or concern,” he says. “The faculty is extremely receptive to feedback. Suggestions we make are reflected in the next class’s curriculum.”
Erb says one of the most important lessons he learned came during his third year of medical school, when he was first introduced to patient care.
“I was taught to own up to my mistakes and learn from them,” he says. “We’re afraid of making mistakes because we’re of perfectionist mindsets, but we have to see them as learning opportunities.”