75th Anniversary: Following Your Passion

By Alyssa Kirkman posted 02-07-2018 02:48 PM


As we celebrate ACPA’s 75th Anniversary in 2018, we will be sharing stories from ACPA members about their ACPA experiences.  We are proud of the work our members have accomplished in support of our mission: to optimize outcomes for individuals with oral cleft and craniofacial conditions through education, support, research, advocacy, and interdisciplinary team care. Please join us in celebrating our anniversary by learning more about our members and the patients and families they serve.

Today’s story is from Kristopher Day, BA, BS, MD.

Photo_20Dec_2002__201_2008_2046_20AM_preview_jpeg.jpg"Vincent Van Gogh may have epitomized intensity in his approach to his work. “Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you're put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” Maybe that’s what made his art legendary. And maybe there’s a tiny element in that lofty approbation that tells about the pursuit of a craniofacial surgery practice and the significance of the American Cleft Palate Association in that journey…

You see, I have turned down that paycheck a few times now for that calling. After successfully interviewing to become a general surgeon, I participated in my first cleft mission: answering that spiritual bell to serve the underserved. And it was life-changing. Almost a decade later I made it back on a cleft mission, but this time as a surgeon and nearly-finished plastic surgery trainee who was able to contribute in the operating room. Between those two trips was a lot of faith and a few more missed paychecks. Now I look forward to craniofacial fellowship next year and embracing a highly competitive job market fraught with even more uncertainty than answering the call to extend my training into plastic surgery or pursue international mission work in my free time.

Picture1.jpgBut there are things that calm my nerves throughout this path to a profession that will hopefully one day allow me to practice based on my passions: like the ACPA. Because I know that no matter how improbable the approach, how challenging the climb, that there is a whole legacy of others that have taken it before me. In fact, lots! And they meet every year to discuss it, exchange encouragements, and provide a picture of the destination for those of us in the process to pursue.

I don’t expect to be the Van Gogh of craniofacial surgery, but organizations like ACPA provide a snapshot of the destination while enduring the long training days of the journey to this wonderful profession

If you have a story to share, please email alyssa.kirkman@acpa-cpf.org.  Here’s to 75 more years of team care.