There is overwhelming evidence that we benefit mind, body, and spirit from lifelong learning pursuits. As a physician, I am committed to continuing medical education throughout my career so I can be equipped to provide my patients with the most cutting-edge treatment available. I have always enjoyed the collegiality of professional conferences and the weekly lecture series at All Children’s Hospital and St. Anthony’s.
Other professional learning resources have evolved considerably over my 40-year career- instead of listening to daily cassette tapes of lectures, I can download an app and listen to podcasts. I hope to still have many more years of medical practice ahead of me, so continuing my training is a must.
Research also shows that reading is one of the most effective activities we can undertake to reduce stress levels, and learning activities which stimulate cognitive activity are shown to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Another study compared elderly people who devoted time each week to learning new skills to their peers who spent time socializing or engaging in familiar leisure activities. The people who learned new skills had significant, sustained gains in memory. Seeking out new learning opportunities in your personal time is the best way to stay mentally sharp throughout your life.
My Catholic Faith, and in particular, my affiliations with St. Petersburg Catholic High School and the University of Notre Dame, are also a strong reason why I believe in the importance of lifelong learning. I am so proud to give my sons the opportunity to not just attend a school, but to be a part of a community of learning and Faith, where families are engaged alongside the students to ensure they are equipped to be leaders in the Church and in our community. We do this by teaching critical thinking skills, which will empower students to continue learning beyond the walls of a classroom. One of my favorite recognitions I have received in recent years was the 2017 Boy Scout Distinguished Citizen Award. In the Scout Oath, we promise to keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Lifelong learning is an important element of that commitment, and something I hope to model for my sons and the community I serve.