Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sage Advice

When I was little and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I said "a doctor".

It wasn't until I started medical school that I realized how non-specific of an answer I was actually giving people.  Doctor.  Internist (I didn't even totally understand what that meant until M1 year)? Pediatrician? Surgeon? Pathologist? Orthopod? Psychiatrist? Family doc? Not to mention advanced fellowship training . . . cardiologist? intensive care doc? allergist? neonatologist?

The list is literally endless.

I've always had an inkling about what I thought I wanted to do.  I wanted to be a pediatrician--or so I thought.  It then occurred to me that this was likely because for the first 18 years of my life, literally from birth to adulthood that was the only physician I had ever seen.  Naturally thats what I thought I wanted.

When I started medical school I thought it was imperative to keep an open mind, there are fields of medicine that exist out there that I have yet to even discover as potential careers.  As a medical student prior to clerkship years how can you possibly already know what you want? Granted there may be those few who since birth have known what their one true passion is, what about the rest of us?

I'm itching to start my clinical years and put the pre-clinical years and step 1 behind me and forage ahead into the world of medicine.

I had the opportunity to spend some time shadowing in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and struck up conversation with one of the Neonatology fellows.  One of my favorite questions to ask of people above me in the totem pole is "When you were in my shoes, what was one thing you wish you had known?"  He gave me one of the best single lines of advice I think I have received in all of medical school thus far

"Don't look at the fellows or the residents, we are all exhausted.  Look at the attendings.  Could you see yourself doing what they do for the rest of your life? Do you like them?"

So simple and in some ways so incredibly obvious.  I hadn't really considered things from that perspective, the one that lumps medical students in with residents and fellows.  Really its just a extension of the education spectrum.  They're still in the grind, they've got their eyes on the same prize as us.  Being a real doctor.

Maybe though when I finally reach attending status I'll be able to look back and chuckle and realize its not all that different on the other side.  Until then I've got my eyes peeled.


  1. Thanks for sharing the Neonatology fellow's thought! I'm just a pre-med student but any insight on what being a med student is like is appreciated.

  2. I'm glad you found my blog Carrie!

    My goal is really to do just that, my own insight and experience is all I have to share and I hope someone out there finds its useful and at the very least mildly entertaining.

    - WaitingForMD