From Fixing Cars to Saving Lives, an MD Mechanic on a Mission

Ryan Syrek, MA

Disclosures

September 24, 2019

Has your experience as a mechanic come into play during your medical education?

Definitely! When you talk about organic chemistry and combustion and the moving of electrons, all of those things are fundamentals of the automotive field. If you understand electrons and the way that those work, the way that different atoms or different metals can share electrons or how they're distributed, that's a lot of the principles of electricity. It's the same way that the cardiac system works.

It helped picturing different things in the car being different parts of the body. You have computer systems, wiring, and sensors. I mean, it's the same thing: We have sensors in our body that send information to our brain. Then our brain makes decisions as to what to do with that information. Then it has outputs that drive the motor or the mechanics of your body. All of that is what I have done my whole life.

Other than overwhelmed by everyone's interest, how are you feeling about this major change in your life?

I am enjoying my new career. Look, I know I come from a different place. Our first day of residency, our residency director asked everybody who has worked before to raise their hand. Only about half of my group raised their hands. For a lot of people, this is their first job with a lot of responsibility. That's a lot to ask of people: to be in charge of others' lives. And a lot of them have not had the experiences of true adulthood and true responsibility yet.

But for me? I have done so much. Raising a family and running a business, I am used to juggling a lot. But I still try to find time to make myself sane. I just finished working out for the past hour and 15 minutes, and after we finish here I'm going to go for a 5-mile run! Hopefully I make it...

I feel like I'm managing it pretty well right now, but I'm just in my second month. We'll see how that turns out, but I'm optimistic. I am going to work hard every day to make a difference in my patients' lives. I work with so many people at the Cleveland Clinic who do the same thing. Everybody who I've come across has really put their patients first. I'm just glad to be part of a team that puts humanity before paychecks and before wealth.

There's so much I'd love to add about my childhood and everything, but people are going to have to wait for the book for that! Seriously, there is probably a book in my future, and a few places have contacted me from Hollywood too who want the rights to my story, but I'm not doing anything like that right now.

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