Section: FeaturesMarch 10, 2017
As is a common theme among Brandeis students, Dr. Sander Florman ’89, now director of the Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center, was a student of many interests during his time as an undergraduate at Brandeis.
While he managed to complete all the pre-medicine requirements and earn a letter of recommendation for medical school, he was a philosophy major, equally interested in attending law school after graduation as he was in attending medical school.
As graduation neared, Florman took both the LSAT and the MCAT, unsure of which direction he wanted to take his career. After getting into law school and medical school, he had a tough decision to make. “I decided ultimately that if I went to medical school and didn’t like it I could probably still go to law school, but if I went to law school and didn’t like it, I would not be as eager to go to medical school, so I went to medical school!” Florman exclaimed.
Although dual degrees have become more common among universities today, Florman explained that while he was a student, it was unusual for universities to offer its students such academic liberty. “It’s made me a better person and a better doctor to be a philosophy major, and I never in a million years thought I would have pursued that. I think Brandeis allowed me the diversity and the opportunity to pursue things I never thought I would pursue, and I’ve always appreciated that,” Florman said.
While Florman’s range of interests exemplified the Brandeis academic experience, his Friday flower sales in the student center captured the spirit of the student body. “Every Friday, there was a wholesale flower place not far from Waltham. We’d go and buy them and sell them in the student center,” Florman explained. “It was fun. All my roommates got free flowers, and I made some money!”
The Friday flower sale, while run by Florman in his time at Brandeis, was a tradition that had been started at least 10 years before his time at the university and a tradition he passed down after he graduated.
Just as selling flowers on Friday, one of his earlier job experiences, was a job he found much joy in, Florman emphasized that he ended up becoming a transplant surgeon simply by doing what he loved. “I was always taught do what you love and it won’t feel like work, and it’s been true ever since,” he stated.
While his time in medical school, surgical residency and then additional schooling to earn a focus in transplants resulted in 12 additional years of education after his Brandeis graduation, Florman believes it was well worth it. “I find [it] very inspiring. Transplant is about hope. Transplant is about second chance and restoring functional life,” he explained. “It’s very gratifying to be in the field.”