Do you want to be a doctor? More importantly, why do you want to become a doctor? At one point in our lives, didn’t we play doctor and lawyer? Didn’t we ask our parents to fake a cough so that we can check on them? Didn’t we put “I want to be a doctor” on a piece of paper when the teachers asked what we wanted to be in the future?
The truth is that people see only the glamour of being a doctor. They hear the title and get impressed rather easily. They think that doctors are millionaires. But being a doctor is more than about the title and the money. It’s about knowing intradiscal ozone injection for disc herniation. It’s about spending 11 to 14 years in school. Can you imagine what doctors have to sacrifice to become one?
Missing out on Your Youth
While most of your friends have graduated from college and celebrating their success, you are going to prepare for medical school. This is no time to celebrate yet. You are about to embark on perhaps the toughest educational institution: medical school. Your classmates are going to be class valedictorians. They’re going to have Latin honors to their names. They have probably written a dissertation on a variety of topics.
Your summer vacation will be spent preparing for what lies ahead. It is this time when you realize that you need to say goodbye to summer trips and beach vacations. Your time is no longer yours. For the next four to seven years, you’ll spend it in the classroom, library, and the hospital.
Looking at Photos of Special Occasions
Do you know what else you will miss? Attending family events. Your sister’s getting married? Have you asked the hospital if someone else can cover your shift? There’s no one available? There was an emergency? Oh, sorry. You’ll have to leave the middle of the wedding ceremony—or, if you’re lucky, the reception—to attend to a patient.
It isn’t easy to be a medical student. You’re at the mercy of your senior consultants. If they want you in the hospital to watch over a pregnant woman in labor, you’re going to be there and not at your sister’s wedding. You are going to miss a lot of family events and special occasions. You’re going to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in an emergency room. All you’ll have are photos and the hope that one day, your schedule will allow you to be present.
Letting Go of Relationships
It’s hard to maintain a relationship within the confines of medical school and hospital clerkships. But it’s even harder to maintain relationships outside of it. Your partner will try to understand all the sacrifices you are making. But until when can they handle the pressure and sacrifice? You’ll have to prepare yourself for days when your heart is breaking but your mind and body must work to heal patients.
You’re going to learn to let go of long-term relationships and friendships because your absence will take you far from them. You’ll have to learn to cope with this loss in the middle of a busy hospital or while preparing for an exam. You’ll sacrifice so much that by the time you finish your residency training, you’ll only have a handful of people by your side.
People don’t see the kind of sacrifice that doctors make. They sacrifice a lot to be where they are today. It’s not all glamour and prestige. In fact, it is all work and no play. If there’s one thing doctors are good at (aside, of course, from medicine), it is patience.