Dear Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program Director:
In case you google Luke Myhre, now you know two things. He likes bones, and he's turning 25 tomorrow. This photo was taken over Christmas here near his home in Kenya, holding an elephant femur we came upon in a game park. If he hadn't opted for medicine, he would have been a ranger protecting wildlife from poachers.
Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, he was born a month premature, and from the first week of his life he demonstrated characteristics that will make him an excellent orthopedic surgery resident: a tenacious determination and an inhuman ability to remain alert. Sleep was never his strong suit.
He was 8 months old when we moved to Uganda, where he lived for the next 17 years. His childhood prepared him well for survival in tough circumstances including evacuating under rebel gunfire and surviving an ebola epidemic. More than the dramatic crises, he learned to feel rich in circumstances that would qualify as poverty-level in the USA (no indoor plumbing, no grid electricity, no phone or TV service or even a post office for many years). He had to be confident and resilient to spend his days cross-culturally with his friends, to bravely enter Ugandan school as the only foreigner, and later to go to a boarding school that was a 23-hour grueling 2 1/2 day drive from home. This childhood was actually rich: rich in community, in beauty, in adventure, in reading, in love.
At age 17 he graduated from high school and went to Yale University on a scholarship, fulfilling premed requirements while pursuing a broader education in the history, culture, and language of the continent where he grew up. He graduated with honors and by amazing grace got another scholarship to go to medical school at the University of Virginia (our state of residency). In these almost 8 years of pursuing degrees, he's maintained friendships here in Africa, coming back many summers to work on diverse research projects from exploring a link between malaria and congenital neural tube defects, to using cell phone messaging to improve post-trauma care and follow-up.
Now he's turning 25, and embarking upon a career in orthopedic surgery. Whoever matches this young man will get a creative, outside-the-box cross-cultural thinker, an intellectually curious person who will make a mark on the world, who will combine physics and public health and mechanics and intensive care all into his surgical skills. You'll get a resident characterized by supreme loyalty, self-sacrifice for his fellow residents and patients. Your community will be enriched by his talent for gathering people around food and fun. He's an athlete and strong and smart but so are most of your applicants. Take it from us: he's brought us joy for 25 years and we know he'll do the same for you for the next 5, or more.
Jennifer A. Myhre, MD, MPH
Scott D. Myhre, MD, MPH
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