When asking medical students why they want to be doctors, the majority of them say it’s been a lifelong dream. But Trinity student Mike Aycock was on a different path when he was unexpectedly led to pursuing an MD.
After having surgery on his vocal cords (made necessary by a long career as a high school band director), Mike was told by his doctor that he wasn’t to even attempt to speak for 10 days. It was during this time that Mike felt the call to become a physician. After regaining his voice, he excitedly told his wife of 34 years, Lynell, what had been occupying his mind during this doctor-mandated silence. As of today, Mike has now completed his fifth term at Trinity School of Medicine and will be moving onto the next stage of clinical clerkships in the new year.
Mike is a unique student for several reasons. Firstly, he already has “Doctor” in front of his name. Dr. Aycock holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee, a Master of Science from the University of Illinois, and a PhD from the University of Alabama, all in music education. And at the age of 55, he does not fit the archetype of the twenty-something medical student fresh out of their undergrad days. While he made the decision to become a doctor during his recovery from surgery and on the brink of retiring from his career in music education, Mike told us “My whole life I was choosing between medicine and music. I had just chosen the music path and needed to finish it.”
In a recent conversation with the Trinity team, Mike said that while at first glance music and medicine may appear to have nothing in common, they have a clear uniting factor: Grit. In fact, Dr. Aycock wrote his doctoral thesis on the concept of grit and the correlation between self-efficacy and success. In his thesis, Mike defines grit as “the trait of an individual to work toward professional goals for extended periods, striving to overcome barriers longer than others will persist.”
When explaining the connection between the concept of grit and being a successful physician, Dr. Aycock recalled watching an interview panel with the deans of several prominent medical schools where one of the panelists had mentioned he had an interest in recruiting music majors. Dr. Aycock summarized the dean’s explanation, saying that musicians’ tendency to “practice until perfect” means they aren’t practicing life-saving surgical techniques a few dozen times. “They go home and practice it 2,000 times. While whistling.”
While completing his basic sciences with Trinity in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mike was surprised to learn his passion for music was shared by his fellow students. Using his extensive background in music education, Dr. Aycock formed and directed a music club, which eventually grew to include 13 instrumentalists and a 40-voice choir. Now back in the United States and preparing to start his clinical clerkships in Warner Robins, Georgia, Mike is happy to be closer to his home and just a drive away from his supportive wife and 3 adult children in north Alabama.
After graduating from Trinity School of Medicine and completing his residency, Dr. Aycock hopes to open a family medical practice in his hometown community. He has his sights on serving socioeconomically disadvantaged areas through medical missions and music instruction.
“I would like to develop relationships with patients in a traditional medical office, helping those I can, regardless of income. When the workday is over, I would like to open the door to music students in the area that would like instruction and might not be able to afford it. Also, I would like to mentor local, young music teachers and provide volunteer help while they help deserving students.”
Dr. Aycock told us he is proud to be a Trinity student and be a part of a school that invests in each student personally and professionally. If you’re interested in learning more about how Trinity keeps student success at the core of its mission, we invite you to reach out to our admissions team today.
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