The most rewarding aspect of medical school, Lazzari said, has been progressing as a student, every day getting closer to his goal of becoming a physician.

Published Dec 4th, 2019

By Lindsay Lyle
lalyle@health.southalabama.edu

The path to medical school isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes, it’s more like a circle.

Even in high school, Zachary Lazzari anticipated a career in medicine. After graduation, he entered the pre-neuroscience program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"But, 18 years of age turns out to be an odd time to decide on career choices, so I jumped ship," Lazzari said.

He transferred to Auburn University, where he pursued a degree in philosophy. He embarked on adventures around the United States and Europe and surrounded himself with artists and musicians. After earning his Bachelor of Arts, Lazzari spent the next two years in Portland, Oregon.

"Only then did I realize my ‘deviation’ from the path I thought pre-medical students had to take was actually the best preparation for becoming a physician," he said.

Lazzari was accepted to master’s programs in neuroscience and bioethics as well as medical school – all in the same year.

A native of Fairhope, Alabama, Lazzari and his wife, Peyton, decided they wanted to be close to home while Lazzari went to medical school. So, they settled into a little house on his family’s farm on the Eastern Shore, and Lazzari started his medical education at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 2018.

When Lazzari interviewed at USA, he was impressed with the students’ test scores and achievements, and he appreciated that the small class sizes nurtured close relationships with professors and peers. "With the combination of being near family and enjoying the culture of the USA College of Medicine, I was convinced I made the right choice," he said.

The most rewarding aspect of medical school, Lazzari said, has been progressing as a student, every day getting closer to his goal of becoming a physician. "I am enamored with medical science, so every subject reveals just a little bit more of the mystery of life – that is definitely rewarding," he said.

Like most medical students, Lazzari said it can be hard to find balance. "I try to prioritize spending time with my wife and our dog, making time for running, and taking small trips once in a while to feel like my social life is not paused because of school; but it is still a challenge," he said.

Lazzari combines his liberal arts background, love of the natural world and knack for science, making for a well-rounded medical student. As a member of the USA College of Medicine’s Wellness Committee, Lazzari recently spearheaded an event – Arts in Medicine – that showcased the creative sides of medical students and faculty.

According to Lazzari, art is as fundamental to practicing medicine as science. "A physician is tasked with caring for any human who presents with a complaint, so we must develop culturally, emotionally and socially in order to treat the disease and care for the patient," he said. "I believe art allows one to grow in all these ways and more."

At this point Lazzari said he isn’t sure which specialty he would like to pursue, but his 18-year-old self might have been on to something, after all.

"I know that I enjoy learning about the neurosciences," he said. "I am betting a specialty within that realm will catch my eye."

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