Successful Berklee Alumni #185: Dr. Sam Wood

Dr. Sam Wood

Graduated in 2012 with a major in Music Production & Engineering. Principal instrument: guitar.

Position: Emergency Room Resident Physician at Reading Hospital in Pennsylvania, which has one of the busiest emergency rooms in the country. As of the interview, Dr. Sam Wood is halfway through his 3-year medical residency, “medical school 2.0” as he calls it, after which he will have his physicians license and expect to be hired, and compensated, as a full physician. He sees patients 45-50 hours per week, and also does a lot of medical lectures with the other residents at the hospital.

Overview: As he finished high school Sam got extremely sick and was all but incapacitated. Eventually doctors diagnosed him with lupus, and he recovered gradually. Feeling that life was short and he wanted to pursue his dreams, Sam transferred to Berklee and studied MP&E. However, by 2012 he started to question whether he really wanted to rely on music for money, and at the same time thought about how those doctors had made him so much better and his interest in physical fitness and how the body works, so Sam decided that he wanted to be a doctor.

The first step was doing an intense 10-month Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med Program at Goucher College, where he took all of the required science classes. After completing that, he moved back to Boston where he worked at a guy and as a resident advisor while applying to medical schools, and was accepted at the University of New England. He liked many of the medical fields, but wasn’t in love with any of them, until in his fourth year he did a rotation in an emergency room and loved how it was a bit of everything. Sam chose to apply to ten Emergency Room residencies, and match with Reading Hospital, his top choice. He received his M.D. in the spring of 2019 and stared the three-year residency a couple of months later, after a well-earned European backpacking trip.
You can see Dr. Sam Wood’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “What I’m attracted to about being an emergency room doc is you have to be a jack of all trades but a master of none. You might go to 3 rooms in 15 minutes — one heart attack, one person who’s short of breath but doesn’t know why, and a woman having a baby. You have to quickly triage and treat them and make sure they’re stable and then figure out where they’re going to go. A surgeon is a master of their field and knows their patient well and has plenty of time to prepare for the surgery. An emergency room physician is more of a generalist. But we’re trained to handle the worst-case scenario. Another thing I love about being an ER doc is that I have a very broad set of skills that would be relevant in a random emergency.”

“One of my medical mentors, also a musician, said music is like any other modality. First you know nothing. then you learn the language (theory), then you combine that with stuttering (staring an instrument), then with experience the theory and playing meld into this unified understanding and new way to thing and apply thing. For me, science is like that — I still use medications that depend on the chemistry I had to learn years ago. Struggling with an instrument to the point I can play well has been big in assuring me that I will get a handle on science or whatever else.”

“My educational experiences after Berklee were like marathon. With no training if you had to run a marathon, that was Gaucher. At med. school the workload was much harder, but I was conditioned and trained to handle it.”

“If you are thinking about becoming a doctor, first off, know that it is possible. You’d be surprised how many people go into medicine from completely off-the-wall backgrounds. Also, find physicians who can understand your situation and give you guidance. I wouldn’t be here without those people in my life.”


See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.