William Kang’s journey into medicine began with a shoulder injury.
A concert violinist, he played with the Louisiana Philharmonic and the Florida Orchestra when the injury that sidelined him for a few months made him wonder what he would ever do if he found out he couldn’t play anymore.
Instead of using his hands to make music, he decided to use them to heal, enrolling in medical school in 2009. Today, he will earn his degree from the UCF College of Medicine. While his days of playing concerts may be over, music will continue to be a very important part of his life, as will caring for people beyond the clinical setting.
During his time at UCF, Kang spent many a Friday night at the MD Anderson Cancer Clinic in downtown Orlando, playing his violin for patients following their chemotherapy treatments. He conducted a study to see if music had an impact on memory in an Alzheimer’s study he completed in 2012. And when he wasn’t playing for patients he was helping other parts of the community.
He taught preschoolers about the benefits of exercise and diet for their hearts and he helped homeless veterans navigate paperwork so they could access medical services during an event sponsored by an organization in Orlando. He also volunteered at St. Thomas Aquinas Free Medical Clinic in Osceola County and helped organize activities for victims of domestic violence at a residential and counseling center in Orlando.
Kang worked with fellow classmates to help create several medical school clubs and traditions. He started the UCF chapter of the American Medical Student Association and was class president this year. He helped organize intramural sports at the medical school including football, basketball and volleyball and helped launch Coffee with the COM (College of Medicine), a mentoring program for premedical students.
The 31-year-old did all this while completing what he calls a “challenging curriculum.”
Throughout the four years, he’s remained grounded — humble. He said he will forever be grateful to his donors, Judy and David Albertson, who donated the money that made his full scholarship possible. Community residents raised more than $6.5 million to give every member of UCF’s charter medical school class full scholarships. That means each one will graduate with no debt from medical school.
The Albertsons have been with Kang every step of the way of his journey, asking him to join them for lunch, dinner and UCF football games at Bright House Networks Stadium.
“They have treated me like family,” Kang said. “I feel really lucky to have had such a close relationship with my donors.”
When the day came for students to find out where they will complete their residency training after graduation, Kang asked his donors to open the envelope that contained his residency match.
At noon on March 15, Judy Albertson tore open the envelope.
When Kang heard that he had matched his first choice and was going back to his home state, he gave the Albertsons a tearful hug. They were tears of joy.
Kang is headed to the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans where he will complete a residency in orthopedic surgery.
“I think it is an incredibly honorable field,” Kang said. “Ortho surgeons help parents get back to work to take care of their families; help grandparents keep walking to stay independent, and help kids grow up to be normal kids. It’s not just shoulder scopes, hip replacements and casts. It is the stories behind them that mean the most to me.”
And if his past is any indication, he’ll continue to help his community wherever he goes.
“Teaching has always been a big part of my life,” Kang said. “I want to be an attending working with residents and medical students one day. I think that’s an important way to give back. And I will always look for ways to help my patients and my community. That’s just part of who I am.”