Something good happens this week for medical school students in North Texas and around the country. Friday is Match Day, when future doctors find out where they'll head off for residency.
"Basically, it means I'll have a job," said Dennis Kulp, 30, a medical student at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
The rigors of medical school are challenging enough, but Kulp's fourth year has been especially daunting.
"My parents have been having some financial difficulties and things only got worse when the pandemic hit, as I'm sure a lot of people have gone through," he said. "So, what I ended up doing was a lot of the loan money that was to be used for my daily living, I diverted that to my parents at that time. And, in order to sustain that and to sustain myself, I ended up picking up a job as an Uber Eats driver."
Kulp says he became more organized than ever as he juggled his studies and the part-time job. His priority was school but earning money to pay everyday bills and help his aging parents was a necessity.
"As soon as I got out of the hospital or clinic, I changed from my scrubs into plain clothes and opened my app and started going," he said. "They raised me to be the person I am today, and it hurt me to watch them suffer like that and I wanted to do everything in my powers to help them."
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Somehow with all the demands, he also found time to volunteer at the health science center's COVID-19 testing sites in Fort Worth.
It was in line with Kulp's desire "to use science to bring change to people's lives in a more personal way" by becoming a doctor. "One of the best decisions of my life," he said of the decision to enroll in medical school in Fort Worth to study internal medicine after his parents left California several years ago to start anew in Texas.
Now as Kulp nears the next phase of his medical journey, he's optimistic about his future and has no regrets about the sacrifices he made to be there for his mom and dad.
"I get to wake up every day and I have the capacity to help my parents but not only my parents. I get the capacity to help my patients in the future," he said. "The something good for me is always a brighter future and even after the dark, dark year that was 2020, every day is going to be a better day."
As Kulp awaits Match Day on Friday, he knows others in pursuit of a career in medicine had their own struggles but they are all now on the cusp of moving to the next big step.
"I wanna give a shout-out to the class of 2021. Like I said, it's been a rough year but we made it and we're gonna have a great time in residency," he smiled.