I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count. By friends, family, professors, and even physicians. Medicine is a commitment. It’s the willingness to devote a large portion of your time and energy to learning how to be the best possible doctor that you can be. It comes with sacrifice and hard work. And many people don’t understand why the heck I would ever want to do it.
I’ve thought about why I want to be a doctor a lot. My parents aren’t in medicine. Actually, in my entire extended family, there is one person who works in healthcare. The first memory I have of wanting to be a doctor was in eighth grade. We had to do a presentation in a class and choose our top three careers to discuss. I chose a physical therapist, a psychologist, and a pediatrician. I don’t know why I chose a pediatrician, but I think I nearly choked when I came across the education portion during my research. “EIGHT YEARS OF SCHOOL?! No way!” I kept the career in my presentation, but in the back of my head I thought, “Nope, never going to happen.”
At some point later on, I revisited the idea of being a doctor or doing something in healthcare. It may or may not have been because of my obsession with Addison Montgomery. When it came time to job shadow junior year of high school, I chose to shadow healthcare workers. I enjoyed all of my shadowing experiences and could see myself in many different fields. I knew I wanted to do something in medicine, but I went back and forth between being a physician, a PA, a nurse, or a physical therapist.
During my senior year of high school I had the opportunity to do an 18 week, half-day internship. I decided to do 9 weeks with a physical therapist and 9 weeks with an OB/GYN. I adored my time interning at the physical therapist’s and I absolutely loved the people I had the opportunity of working with. I learned so much and felt that as a PT, I would truly be able to help people heal and resume their normal life. I watched as people progressed in their recovery from injuries and strokes and I found it extremely rewarding.
However, when I began the other half of my internship with an OB/GYN, I felt at home. I could see myself in her shoes. I loved the pace of the day, the constant need to learn, the simplicity of common cases mixed with the complexity of the difficult ones. I loved the information I was learning every day I spent with her. I loved the times she spent in the OR and in the clinic. I yearned for the trust her patient’s had for her and the bonds she created with them. I could see myself doing the same job one day. Every shadowing experience since then has given me another reason to believe that I am meant to be a physician. I’ve seen the struggles, the endless paper work, and the difficult patients, but even amongst the not-so-pretty side of medicine, it’s all I can see myself doing.
Sure, there have been times where I questioned my decision. I thought that maybe I should choose an easier route. One with less studying, less sacrifice, better hours, and more time for life. But every time I stray away from the idea of going to medical school, I come right back to it just days later. I truly cannot see myself doing ANYTHING else. Being a doctor is everything to me. Time will pass regardless, so I mind as well do what I want to do in life. I know the path will not be easy, but for me, it will be worth it.