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.
- contrary to what you may think…I'm not an uptight know-it-all. Yes, I preach a lot about making sure you know what you're getting into when you decide you want to become a doctor. But that's because I didn't quite know myself (*gasp*) and because I see far too many people naively thinking that the junk on TV actually even comes close to portraying what it's really like to be a doctor. Yes, it's obvious that doctors treat illnesses, injury, and other health conditions. But what may not be obvious is that it's not quite that simple. Every patient is different--some may listen to you, some may think they know more than you, and some just want to look for any excuse to sue you. You may want to become a doctor to help people, but many times, your hands are tied by bureaucracy and you can't do anything about it but feel bad. Oh yeah, and the income to amount-of-work-you-have-to-put-in ratio kind of sucks when it comes to doctors (unless, of course, you go into derm or some other lifestyle specialty). Also, despite my ragging on and on about how it's not fair that people get ahead by kissing ass instead of working hard, I'm the biggest slacker you'll ever meet. I never studied in high school and made it a habit to never study in college until 1-2 days (at most 2.5) before any midterm or final and graduated summa cum laude with more honors and awards than you care to read about here....
- dear readerI've noticed that there have been quite a few new user registrations on my blog as of late, but no new comments (which is pretty much what registration is for). To those of you who have registered lately and to my loyal readers, is there something more that you are looking for here? Would you like to better be able to interact with me and/or each other (e.g., a forum)? I'm open to mixing things up a bit, so feel free to leave me any suggestions or thoughts in the comments here or privately by sending me a message here....
- how can an 18-year-old know that s/he wants to be a doctor?!But that's exactly what select schools believe because they offer BS/MD programs. I remember being coerced to apply to these schools during my senior year of high school by an uncle who never believed that I would be able to get into medical school if I did it the normal way. Boy was he wrong. And I didn't bother applying either. Basically these schools offer an accelerated program where you finish your BS in three years and then move on to med school, finishing everything in seven years. What I really wonder though is how these kids know for sure without a doubt that an MD is what they want. Even though I knew I wanted to go into medicine by the time I applied for college, I wasn't 100% sure. And how could I be? I never had any opportunities to shadow physicians and see what it was like. I had no idea what it involved and didn't even know that academic medicine existed. Or that doctors did anything else besides family practice. Yes, I was quite naive. And even though I wanted to pursue medicine, there was still the off chance that I might go to college and decide that I wanted to do something else. In fact, I was quite torn between engineering and science and biomedical engineering didn't quite exist at the time. Most importantly, I don't think teenagers are mature enough to make this choice at all. Sure, they might have the numbers, but good...
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