VOICES of HMSOM: Behrmann Inspired by Family Experiences
February 07, 2024
From being the designated “splinter remover” for his family as a child, to watching pimple-popping YouTube videos during his teen years, James Behrmann’s unique interest in dermatology now makes perfect sense. It seemed the young man from Chatham, NJ was destined to choose a career in healthcare. But perhaps the most meaningful reason he was determined to succeed in medicine was rooted in his experiences with, and love for, his mother.
“My mom has been in and out of doctors’ offices for as long as I can remember, which led me to hold a certain reverence for the profession,” said Behrmann. “I remember attending an appointment after she was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and her surgeon proposed the idea of removing her bladder and replacing it with part of her intestines to create a new bladder. It was such an interesting idea to me and illustrated how innovative and thought-provoking medicine can be.”
And yet, given his father’s job at various banks in NYC, he couldn’t turn off his interest in the financial field. During his first few years of undergrad education at Brigham Young University, he took both pre-med and business classes. A financial internship in Beijing, China, ultimately reminded him of his unsurpassed passion for medicine. And that’s when James decided to finish pre-med requirements and go to medical school - a journey which has brought him to the cusp of his degree at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (HMSOM).
“James Behrmann is another student of ours who is poised to make medicine better,” said Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., the president and dean of HMSOM. “His involvement in AI and other research shows his enterprising nature, which will benefit the field.”
WHY HMSOM WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE
After attending college thousands of miles away in Salt Lake City, UT, James - the youngest of five children - was eager to be near his siblings and parents again.
“During the interview day, something just felt right, and the faculty leading the interview day made me feel like I was back home.”
It’s proven to be a great fit. Some of James’ proudest accomplishments at HMSOM include taking a research project on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and dermatology from the inception of an idea to peer-reviewed publication, with special emphasis on involving students from other cohorts.
As a member of the 2020 cohort, many of James’ in-person activities were unfortunately impacted by the pandemic. It’s important to him to create bonds with peers and help others do the same. That need for connecting with peers also paid off while preparing to transition from pre-clinical courses to clinical in-hospital rotations. It helped inspire James – the co-chair for the plastic surgery student interest group at the time – to organize SOM’s very first “Surgical Olympics” - a competition to demonstrate suturing abilities and knowledge judged by surgeons throughout the network.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LIFE WORK BALANCE FOR THE FUTURE
Now months from graduating from the SOM and as James prepares for residency, he has his sights set on combining his skills in medicine and finance in the future. Comfortable with using AI, which he believes will be essential in the future of medicine, he hopes to one day develop a new product or technology that will help doctors treat more patients in their limited time.
Speaking of time – ultimately his biggest personal dream is to create time to also enjoy a personal life in addition to having a successful career in medicine.
“As someone who came from a previous career and is now preparing to become a resident, having a balance in life is very important to me. So most of my current goals are aimed at healthier milestones that will increase my longevity.”
A goal inspired at least in part, by his parents: That father in finance, who re-focused his energy on being present for his family after 9/11. And that mother who battled and beat bladder cancer, who is alive and well and proud of her son who is on the verge of graduation from HMSOM this year.