I don’t do well with time off. My last real vacation, before we started med school was a five day trip to Hawaii. It was beautiful. Swim up bars, blue sea, white sand and I spent most of it on the lanai finishing my health informatics thesis, which was for all intents and purposes already finished. OCPD at its finest.
Something about having time off, is that is gives me time to think about what I have been doing—where normally I’m so busy I don’t have time to think too hard. As third year is now 2/3rds of the way over, I feel mounting pressure to decide on a specialty.
I thought deciding that I wanted to go to medical school was the biggest decision I would ever make—but it turns out that we are not off the decision making hook. Now in addition to being asked if I am dating anyone when I return home for the holidays, I am asked about what kind of medicine I want to practice. What kind of doctor I want to become.
The answer is honestly—a good one. One that isn’t too burnt out or disillusioned. A doctor who cares, who is able to live comfortably. A doctor who does right by people and has good friends and colleagues by my side. Oh—and one who is competent…let’s hope that comes with time.
But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the fact remains—we have to pick a specialty and therein lies the trouble. Everyone seems to have their own thoughts about what I should be doing. They mean well, but I’m the only one who can live my life. Anesthesia makes a lot of money, but I worry its lonely. ER gets beat up by everyone in the hospital, pediatrics is way too stressful, IM rounds forever, surgeons seem too intense and psychiatrists never use their stethoscope. There is no one perfect specialty, but I'd like to get as close as possible to finding one. The thing is-- what makes medicine good, and fulfilling and meaningful, doesn't really have much to do with the chunk of it you pick.
I am in search of a specialty that will make me ridiculously happy, but to be honest I’m not sure its possible to find one. Medical school doesn’t make me any more happy than I was before and although I don’t regret it, I think I had unrealistic expectations about what it would do for my life. Lo and behold, I’m still me. Still as happy as I was before, just more poor but with lots more friends by my side (care about you).
I think that’s one of the most important things about picking a specialty. Are you going to have good people with you? Will you be loved and supported? The rest is gravy. Remember the year after you finished college? It seemed like such a huge thing deciding what to do—but it all worked out right? After all, here you are.
So friends, wherever you go, whatever it is you chose to do—know that we’re behind you, every step of the crazy, difficult, winding way.