The road to becoming a physician is very long, full of studying, test-taking, interviews, working long hours, and typically large amounts of debt.
I think that if you were to ask any physician how they ended up where they were, you would get a lot of different answers. After all, there are so many different aspects to the ongoing journey – the initial interest in medicine, the goals that we set for ourselves and then developing the strategies necessary to achieve those goals, the luck and Providence that opened up opportunities for us, and so much more.
Although on the whole my blogging is an assortment of random topics, I did want to create a specific section for anyone who was interested in my musings on the various steps along my journey to becoming a doctor. Since keeping a public blog still makes me a bit nervous about what exactly I want to tell the Internet, I will be mostly focusing on the experiences and steps in my life that I believe influenced me in how I became who I am today.
Pre-Pre-Med: My Pre-College Experience
For those young people wanting to enter the medical field and get an idea of what at least one person’s journey was to becoming a doctor, I will be discussing some of things I remember from when I was in high school and younger. While many things have changed since that time (this was in the age of flip phones, RAZRs, and before Gmail was a thing), I think there are still some basic goals that have not changed…and if you are so fortunate as to have developed a passion for medicine when you are young, I want to discuss some practical lessons I learned through experience that might be helpful.
I cannot help but appreciate that I am now at a similar stage in my life as my high school mentor was, so many years ago. At the time, he was finishing up his Family Medicine residency training and then becoming an attending physician. Despite his incredibly busy professional schedule (he trained in the era before any work-hour limitations on residents) and trying to have a meaningful personal life (like dating, getting married, and starting a family), he took time to challenge me and give me some insight into the things he did and learned on his way to become a doctor. Perhaps in some way I hope to carry forward his legacy, as I start digging through my memories and organizing them into articles.
My major disclaimer is that this discussion will focus far less on the practical how-tos in comparison to other sections on my blog, for several reasons. Firstly, those days are now over 15 years in my past. Though I would like to think my memory is still pretty good, recall bias is a very real thing. Nextly, technology and opportunities have changed drastically. For me, that means that how I learned things and how I made decisions are going to be similar on a fundamental level but perhaps not as much on a practical level. So I may be deferring the practical how-tos to other sites or resources that can provide a more up-to-date guide.
College: Becoming More Than Pre-Med
For those in college and are pre-med, in some ways I envy you. There are SO many more opportunities now to learn about the great unknown that is getting into the medical field. There are entire websites dedicated to the pre-med community, forums, and all sorts of peer and advisor-type resources that were not accessible to me a few short years ago. At the same time, I don’t miss all of the stresses that come with doing well in school, going to tons of meetings, studying for and taking the MCAT, and the arduous process of applying to medical school. College was pretty fun too. Hopefully some of the articles I write for this section will give some more insight into how I did the college experience, how I remained focused on my goals, and still managed to enjoy doing non-academic things.
Medical School: The End Of The Beginning
For me, medical school was very different from college in some respects but in others it was a continuation of the habits I had previously established over the previous 6-8 years. Even within medical school education, the resources available to medical students now far exceed what I had 10-12 years ago in quality and quantity. Although the delivery of content may be very different now (and hopefully for the better), the basics such as goal-setting, finding meaningful experiences, time-management, building effective study habits, networking, etc. still remain. While my experience may not completely mirror my colleagues, hopefully I can contribute something meaningful to the content currently being written and provided to help medical students become excellent physicians.
Internship and Residency (and Fellowship): Turning It Up To 11
Just when you figure out how to play by the rules in medical school, graduation happens. It’s an exciting time, full of joy and pride and finally being able to call yourself “doctor.” And then the long arduous years of internship and residency begin. At least you’re not taking out massive amounts of student loans anymore, but on the flip side, those monthly payments are awfully steep on a resident’s salary. Money becomes a bigger deal, work-life balance just doesn’t quite happen, and even the degree and amount of studying gets taken to a whole new level. Before I completely scare off all of my patients who somehow end up reading these articles, I will be primarily focusing on some of the practical things during that season, rather than sharing anecdotes.
Life As An Attending
This section will be understandably sparse, because while I will probably write a few articles detailing some of the things I am learning about being an attending physician, I need to be careful when it comes to discussing specific details regarding my personal and professional life. At the same time, there are tons of different resources that I will be trying to compile as part of my personal desire to have a repository of useful references I can use as I go about my life, whether that’s information about finding a job, negotiating contracts, continuing research, innovating for the future, etc.
And there you have it – that’s my overly ambitious goal for this part of my site. While I’m not aiming to become tremendously popular, I do want to provide quality content in everything that I put together. So as I continue to slowly build up my site, feedback is definitely welcome. Even if I don’t know the answer, questions about these topics is also a welcome part of building resources and providing a collection that can contribute to the ongoing learning process. Thanks!