poured out before bed
“My name is John, and I’m going into family practice.”
“I’m Kelley and I want to do OB/Gyn.”
“Tim, and I’m thinking anesthesia.”
“I’m Kristi and I’m hoping for plastics.”
“My name is Jenny and I’m going into ophthalmology.”
“Hi, I’m Kim and I want to do general surgery.”
“Jeff, I’d like to do ortho.”
“Hello, I’m Laura, and I’m thinking medicine.”
“I’m Mullberry and I’m…confused.”
The small group preceptor gives me the one eye squint.
“You have to be thinking something…you don’t have much time!”
I want to sneak in some attitude with an “Oh really? I didn’t realize…” Instead I smile and shrug. “They say medical school is but a mechanism to prolong adolescence. Maybe I’m just not ready to grow up yet – I’m having a hard time deciding… It’s such a big decision.”
“Well. You’ll have to make it soon, you know.”
I yearn to return the snark, but maintain my respectful demeanor and nod in ascent.
The rest of the group make their introductions, espousing their interest in emergency medicine, in pediatrics, in subspecialties of medicine and surgery, and I am left to consider my own future career. Of course I have interests – but they are so diverse and so…confusing. In no particular order they include:
1. Radiology – I LOVE medical imaging. I have a (wicked) crush on anyone who can look at a chest x-ray and see a diagnosis where I see faint lines and hints of splotches. But I also love interacting with patients on a level more meaningful than the odd guided biopsy or interventional procedure. Certainly radiologists make a (huge) difference in their patients’ care, but I can’t quite yet reconcile with the limited personal contact they keep…
2. Medicine – Hands down, the smartest people I know are internal medicine physicians. Few clinicians can synthesize pages and pages of medical history with the endless possibilities to produce a seamless diagnostic and treatment plan like a good internist. I want to be in that club… But I do also want to exercise my memberships to my husband, my family and friends, and to the world of sleep at least sometimes.
3. Neurology – Some people just cannot get over the physiology, the sexy appeal of the human heart. Well, they can have cardiology – have it all to themselves. I’ll take the nervous system, thank you very much. Give me the tracts, the nerves, the pathways, all the weird lesions, the agnosias, the aphasias… My fascination knows no bounds. Except when I think on the prognosis of many neurodegenerative disorders, of stroke. I worry (really worry) about burn out…
4. Pathology – “We’ll wait on the path results.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard (or said) this. SO many medical decisions – life and death decisions – are based on the contents of those little glass slides. I’m always amazed at the subtle – and wildly important – things pathologists note on slips of wispy H&E. I sometimes fancy myself a future master of the glass, a doctor’s doctor, and I do know my way around microscope. But again with the lack of patient contact…
5. Family Medicine – A career in family would take my love of the renaissance man, marry it to a sensitive lady who excels at interpersonal interactions and making a difference, and make beautiful (beautiful) babies. And then follow those babies into their geriatric years. Providing cradle to grave care is an incredibly challenging, potentially rewarding prospect… But family practice can eat away at your soul very, very easily. Can I survive on a nibbled soul?!
6. Emergency Medicine – Adrenaline. The chance to think on your feet. Eating the mega-code for breakfast. Rivaling those snooty cardiologists in EKG reading skills. Great stories. Need I say more? Except that I do like some regularity in my life…
Yep. No less than six specialties I have seriously looked into, made a point to immerse myself in, and feel rather torn concerning. As you can see, I do indeed have a tough decision to make. Are any of these careers necessarily wrong? No, not in theory. But they may be wrong for me… I can’t help it that I have loved all of my rotations, could see myself in any of the fields* I’ve experienced, waffle back and forth from specialty to specialty. I know I’ve got to make my move sometime. (OF COURSE I know this). But, right now, dangling, swinging above those career slots, planning, info gathering, discussing, dreaming before jumping on in — it feels like the right thing. I’d much rather take a precise swan dive than belly flop and need a graceless moment out of the pool to remember all my parts…
Did I mention I also like Surgery? 😉
*Well…except OB/Gyn. I’ll leave the genital fiddling and all that entails to the passionate experts, thank you. No offense to all you fabulous OBsters and Gyners out there. In fact, GOD BLESS YOU.