What Kind of Doctor Do You Want To Be?

Photo Credit: digitalart

Since the day I started medical school…actually probably more accurately since the day I started telling people I wanted to go to medical school…people have been asking me what kind of doctor I want to be and I have been giving them a generic answer of “I really don’t know, but today I’m interested in XYZ.”

Understandably, the further I get into school the more common this question becomes and, ironically, the more fabricated my answer becomes. 

Simply put – I have no idea…but I feel this distressing compulsion to come up with something I think I might do just to keep from sounding like my life has no direction.

Likely due to some cruel joke the universe has decided to play on the already tortured medical students of the world, many of us get to our 19th year of school and still have no idea what we want to be when we grow up. 

Sure, as first and second years most of us can blurt out some random specialty we think we might enjoy but, by and large, nobody knows for sure what kind of doctor they really want to be until at least part of the way through third year…and the ones who think they know usually end up changing their minds.

I know I like Pediatrics, I think I will like Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinology and I had fun in the ER last summer…but how do I know I’m not better at surgery or psychiatry? 

That’s where 3rd year comes in. 

This year is hands on – we get to experience the ins and outs of six different clerkships (Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Ob/Gyn, Surgery, Family Medicine, Pediatrics) and some of their various sub-specialties and decide the pros and cons of each before committing to one or the other.

So, half-way through each of my rotations I’ll share what I’ve learned about the service I’ve been on that month and, as we move through the next year, you will all get to experience the process of deciding on the rest of my life with me. Lucky you. Don’t act like you’re not pee-your-pants-excited to witness this.  

And, hopefully, by this time next year I’ll have a better answer than “a doctor” when someone asks me “What do you want to be when you grow up?”