Several people have asked me how I knew I wanted to be a doctor, and what made me choose my speciality. I don’t come from a family of doctors. I wasn’t sick as a child. I liked my pediatrician but I wouldn’t say he inspired me. I honestly think it was the way my parents respect physicians that drew me to the field. My mom would always say that when people are sick, they look to two things, God and the doctor. That phrase really resonated with me.
I used to daydream about having my own office, not having patients wait, and a coffee machine with unlimited coffee selection. I even handed out business cards when I was younger with my clinic name and address being Panda Street. I obviously had to reflect my favorite animal somewhere on that business card!
After getting into Internal Medicine residency, I thought I wanted to do a lot of things. I loved the mechanics of the heart and was pretty sure I would love cardiology. So I did research for it, found some great mentors, and was on my way. But then I did a rotation in the CCU (cardiac critical care unit) and that changed my mind. I loved the science behind it, but I didn’t like the high acuity ( very sick patients) having a lot of sad conversations with families, and the schedule. It’s a hectic field, and I envisioned being in my office with a relatively healthier population.
That caused a bit of confusion. So I crossed off cardiology, now what? I dabbled in hematology-oncology because once again, the molecular science behind it was interesting. But it also involves incredibly sick patients and tear-jerking conversations with family members. I know myself, and I knew I would be bringing work home in the sense that the sad outcomes with stick with me for days.
Alright…back to the drawing board. Luckily, I started talking to an awesome co-resident of mine who told me about Allergy/Immunology. I honestly didn’t know much about it but her passion for it was motivating. We talked about food allergies, eczema, helping those with recurrent infections. AND, these patients were relatively healthy! No sad conversations, and no sad patients. BOOM!
So, the most important next step? Rotate in the specialty. I found allergists that I could shadow to see their clinic, follow them into the patient rooms and watch the patient-physician interview. I watched skin testing and patch testing, allergy shot administration. It was great! Patients were happy, the doctors were happy. The field offered a great work/life balance. I found my calling!
Here is a pic of medical school graduation, which is one of my favorite times in life!
If you haven’t found your calling, don’t worry! Everyone has their own pathway in life, and we just see snapshots of other peoples lives and only know the full details of our own. Take your time, experience your experiences, and find your niche. You got this!