People always ask, if you were to do it all over again would you choose medicine? The deeper I get into medicine the more I think about this question. Should I have went into business or into accounting or pharmacy and making money in my 20s instead of waiting until my mid thirties? Is it worth being $250,000 in debt (at least) and not being able to start paying it back until 4-7 years later?
Everyone’s reason for going into medicine is different. Some of us have had dreams of being a physician since we were little. Some of us may have had a family member with a health scare that may have catapulted us into medicine. Some made the decision later in life in undergrad or maybe had a volunteer opportunity that made us change career paths. Whatever the reason is, we do it, knowing the sacrifices that must be made (or at least thinking we do).
We know that medical school requires lots of debt, lots of studying, lack of sleep, missing weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, more weddings and then more studying. Despite that we continue.
I remember studying late nights with my classmates. Using different colors to write my notes, rewatching lectures, making flash cards, spending countless hours in the anatomy lab. It’s draining yet so rewarding. You get so close to your classmates because of the all the time you spend between classes and studying. You get excited when you ace that test. You cry when you get lower than expected. We make it out of medical school and think how fast 4 years have gone. We finally get that coveted MD behind our names and then gasp…residency!
The real fun then begins with extensive work hours, actually being in charge of patients, writing orders and performing procedures and surgeries.
I think of all that it took to get to where I am right now. And then I think of how much farther I have to go. It’s daunting but I am ready for the task. You see, medicine is such a unique career path. It requires so much sacrifice but we get to be such an intimate parts of our patient’s lives. My patients trust me to make decisions on their behalf. They trust that when I prescribe a medicine that it is in their best interest. They trust me to pick up a scalpel and perform surgery on them while they are asleep. They trust me enough to reveal their medical problems to me as embarrassing as they may seem. You see it is a privilege to be able to do what we do. I LOVE taking care of my patients. I love that I wake up everyday and I am literally living my dream. I love that I have worked hard enough up to this point to walk into an OR, say scalpel please, and perform a C section with my attending assisting as needed. I love that I am learning something new every single day. I love that my parents get to introduce me as the first doctor in the family. Medicine is hard. Residency is hard. Having a family is hard. The two together seems near impossible. I want to see my husband more. I want to see my child more. I want more children! I want to exercise, find time to cook and not miss so many important events in the lives of those close to me.
But this…THIS is what I chose. And you know what? I’m STILL glad I chose it. I appreciate every 24 hour shift, every practice bulletin I have to read, every mistake I learn from because I am becoming that which I dreamed of years ago.
So would I choose medicine all over again? Without a doubt. I am learning to balance my family with my busy schedule and realize that it doesn’t have to be all medicine or nothing. I can do medicine AND have fun. I can do medicine AND be a wife. I can do medicine AND be a mother. I can do medicine AND be a great friend. I don’t have it down yet but I am learning everyday.
Now medicine isn’t for the faint of heart, and it certainly isn’t for everyone but it is for me and when I look back through all the choices that led me to where I am today, I think I made a damn good decision. 😌