It’s a new year, new blog. Time to think about where I am and how I got here. Lately, I’ve bumped into a few young people, hopeful and starry-eyed about a career in medicine, who ask me for advice. I give them some encouraging words, because I do believe that medicine is a great and noble vocation. But as they walk away, I can not help but gaze after them with compassion and a touch of melancholy.
Medicine was always a given for me. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I don’t think it was due to parental brainwashing, because my mother is a physician and she has not always been encouraging in my career goals. I think it has something to do with personality, my interest in science, and my desire for control. There is nothing as scary and humbling as the experience of serious physical or mental illness. No matter how wealthy or powerful you are, you are vulnerable and at the mercy of others when you are ill. Studying medicine gave me knowledge, which makes me feel less out of control. You probably can’t do much about whatever’s happening, but you can at least understand it and maybe predict what may happen, which is comforting, in a way. Studying the body is the first step in self- knowledge, and hopefully, self acceptance.
So, why did I become a doctor? Now, I realize because I had to. And to everyone else who wants to become one, do it because you have to, and not for anything else.