SXU Alum and Triple-Major Darryl Brown Excels in Medical Field
Saint Xavier University (SXU) alum Darryl Brown '13, M.D., triple-majored in biology, chemistry and Spanish while at SXU and is now an anesthesiologist in New York City. Immediately after graduating from SXU, Brown entered medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed clinical research in adolescent depression. He also earned the NMF/Aetna leadership scholarship, designed for students with outstanding academic achievement and potential for distinguished contributions to medicine. Currently in his third year of anesthesiology residency, Brown is responsible for caring for patients before, during and after surgery.
Brown loves how dynamic anesthesiology is and considers every unique procedure to be a learning experience. He also stresses that routine procedures can turn into critical situations, so anesthesiologists must be quick on their feet. "I enjoy having the skills to provide care that could save someone's life," said Brown. Intraoperatively, Brown provides medications that blunt patients' bodies' responses to surgeries and act as their advocate while they are under anesthesia. He monitors patients consistently throughout their surgeries to ensure their vital organs are functioning well, and post-operatively, he manages patients' pain and determines when they are stable enough to leave the recovery area.
Brown is quick to adapt to any situation, and is currently assisting his hospital's response to COVID-19 by providing care in areas of the hospital outside the operating room. "As of late, my job has consisted of intubating critically ill patients and providing care in the intensive care unit," said Brown.
During his time at SXU, Brown was very involved on campus, acting as a resident assistant (RA) and member of the student government association and participating in the Honors Program and undergraduate research program. "My favorite things about SXU are the people and the opportunities provided for growth. It's small enough to build meaningful relationships with peers and professors but large enough to provide opportunities to demonstrate leadership. I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences," said Brown.
Brown credits SXU for preparing him for his career as an anesthesiologist. "My undergraduate education at SXU was stellar. I appreciated the rigor of courses in the Chemistry and Biology departments because they provided an introduction into synthesizing large volumes of information, which was extremely helpful for medical school."
He's also grateful for his experience as an RA and member of the student government, believing the leadership skills he gained helped him learn how to manage conflict and consider a systematic way to bring about change. Also a member of the Spanish for Social and Community Services program at SXU at the time, Brown appreciated the eye-opening lessons he learned about being empathetic to those who are non-native English speakers. "Often in medicine, patients do not feel heard or understood by their physicians, and my experience in the program at SXU helped me to be more sensitive to my patients' goals, fears and expectations," said Brown.
When asked what advice he has for current students interested in the medical field, Brown said, "There are many valuable careers in medicine that offer job stability and rewarding work. There are some important things to keep in mind when becoming a physician. The journey of becoming a doctor is long and filled with many sacrifices along the way, and you have to sacrifice huge parts of your life to be in a position to serve your patients. It is an honor and a privilege to be a physician."
In addition to the long, grueling hours of study and work required, Brown urges students to consider the financial components and making the most of their undergraduate experiences. "Becoming a physician is a huge financial investment. The level of knowledge you gain about the human body, disease states and how organ systems interact is unparalleled, but the cost of medical school is expensive, so it's important to be prepared for it," Brown added. "Also, don't neglect other experiences in the process! Some of the experiences we have during our undergraduate careers may not seem directly related to your future profession, but they will help you grow personally and professionally. For example, when I began my undergraduate research project with Dr. Sharada Buddha, [an associate professor in SXU's Chemistry Department], I had no idea how helpful the experience would be for medical school, residency and my career. I am extremely grateful for the many experiences I had at Saint Xavier."
"Darryl resonates in my mind as a well-mannered, patient, perseverant and hardworking student with a deep sense of thankfulness and service attitude towards society. His quote about being an anesthesiologist during these hard times is so 'Darryl at your service!' He is dedicated, diligent and meticulous -- a dynamic and multitalented student!" said Buddha.
In the future, Brown plans to pursue fellowship training in interventional pain management. A sub-specialty of anesthesiology, pain physicians can utilize multiple procedures to treat pain, which offers an alternative to taking opioids and include procedures such as nerve blocks, steroid injections and spinal cord stimulation. "As an anesthesiologist, I often see the impact of chronic pain on patients after surgery, which can prevent them from functioning. This additional training will allow me to perform procedures in the post-operative period that help alleviate pain and allow patients to regain their ability to function," Brown said.
"And when you're good at being an anesthesiologist, most people don’t remember you!"