Ages ago, I noticed an onslaught of new user registrations without much in the way of comment-posting, so I wrote a post requesting that readers give me some input about what they want to see on this blog. I am now finally getting around to responding to loyal (I hope so still…) reader 314’s questions listed below.
1. Did you ever have any dream careers as a child?
When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a scientist. I even went so far as to draw a picture of myself in a labcoat working with chemicals at a lab bench when I was in second grade or so. So I’ve always been interested in the sciences. In high school, I wanted to be an astronomer until my mom told me that I’d never find a job (she was probably right). Not very interesting, huh?
2. What did you think being a doctor meant when you first decided to go to med school?
I lived a pretty sheltered life until my mom passed away when I was in high school. Even afterwards, I remained pretty sheltered (thanks to a psycho possessive ex-boyfriend). I had never really been exposed to what it is that doctors actually do except for what I saw whenever I went to my own doctor, who was invariably either a family practician or a pediatrician. So I thought that being a doctor meant having my own general practice and that was what I wanted to do. I thought that being a doctor meant seeing sick people and making them better, even after watching doctors fail to cure my mom. To put it simply, I was pretty naive and idealistic about the whole thing.
3. How/why has that changed as time passed?
Well, the first thing I learned when I started med school was that there were all these different specialties that I could choose from that I had absolutely no idea existed before. Then I learned that I do not, under any circumstance, want to go into a general field of medicine (e.g., family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics). Then along the way, I learned that being a doctor isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I don’t like seeing sick people. I don’t want to see people die under my watch. I don’t like the long hours and being treated like crap. I’ve been lucky to have pretty pleasant patients so far, but I’m sure the day will come when I get abused by a patient who thinks that I’m not good enough for them (and they would probably be right). I haven’t yet been yelled at either, but I hate living each day in fear of the time when I will finally get yelled at. I’ve also learned that a large part of medicine is about how well you get along with people, which I utterly fail at. I make do and plenty of patients like me, but when you put me next to Mr./Ms. Extrovert, I look like an utter failure. So what’s changed from my idealistic vision of everything is that med school is full of abuse and that the long, hard road is seldom worth it. And that contrary to what I had hoped, I cannot change who I am and be good with people. Which means that I have to hide in the shadows in Radiology instead of becoming a brilliant diagnostician (because, unlike TV, I’m pretty sure I can’t be an ass like House and still have a job).
Wow. How utterly demoralizing. But you introverts might as well know that med school and being a doctor is 100x harder if you’re an introvert before you jump in.