“Why Medicine?” – the second most common question I’m asked as a medical student (after “What kind of doctor do you want to be?”).
Not an easy question to answer, really – but a valid one and one I often ask to my interviewees during their medical school interviews. I think some people expect a profound, life-changing story about the ER physician who brought me back from the brink or an inspiring timeline of how I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 4. I don’t really have either of those.
In fact, as a child I would have sooner sacrificed my (once very valuable and excessively large) Beanie Baby collection than have voluntarily visited the doctor. Aspire to become one of those child-torturing, white-coat creatures? Uh, I don’t think so.
For a doctor’s appointment my mother once had to lie and tell me we were going somewhere really fun in order to lure me to into the car without me first flailing around on my grandmother’s porch in a hysteric fit (true story. I thought we were going to ride a Hot Air Balloon.We were going for vaccinations. She still feels guilty and is likely mortified I just told all of internet-land that story. Sorry Mom…now everyone knows you made one whole parenting mistake in all of my years under your care).
Erin from Healthy, Unwealthy & Becoming Wise* once asked me where passion in medicine comes from, if I think the desire to go into medicine is an innate desire or if it spurs from one’s abilities.
The way I see it, anything you are passionate about is a likely a final culmination of the people around you and the experiences you’ve had over the course of your life.
My mom is a wonderfully gifted nurse with an enormous heart for others. My dad is a exquisitely talented and astoundingly determined man who can learn to do anything he decides is worth his time. Their influence, paired with my immense and ever-present competitive nature, probably laid the foundation for my aspiration to do something that not only challenged me, but also helped others. However, these can’t be the only things that have given me a passion for medicine – there are plenty of non-medical professions that are both challenging and beneficial to society at large.
Initially, likely because it was attractive to my competitive side, I liked the challenge of trying to become a doctor. Soon enough some life events played out and I started seeing that medicine was something I was interested in for so many other reasons.
Life events like definitively removing graduate school from the table, my step-dad having a double-lung transplant, meeting our organ donor’s family and losing my Nana to breast cancer before she blew out her 60th birthday candles were occurrences that expanded my level of interest in the medical field. Eventually my goal had drastically matured from an alluring challenge to a deep-seeded aspiration.
Was it a genetic tendency? A God-given desire I could have never avoided? An innate longing that’s always been buried under the surface just waiting to come out? Who really knows?
All I know is that the life events which have led me to this point in my journey were all relatively small occurrences that, when lumped together, became large enough to influence my life-long aspirations. The way I was raised, my genetics, and the random outcomes of various chapters of my life all eventually came together and gave me the extra push of encouragement I needed to commit to volunteering my entire being to reaching a goal that, somewhere along the way, had been gradually laid out in front of me.
What’s your story? Why did you decide to go into medicine (or whatever field you are in)? Are you like me and it just happened over time or do you have more unique, life-changing experience that inspired you?
*A portion of this post was originally written as a guest blog on Healthy, Unwealthy & Becoming Wise.