Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why I Quit

I don't have a mentor and I never did. But I did get some advice from an intern during my third year of med school that haunted me for many years after:

When I was a third year med student on my medicine clerkship, a intern named Jim saw me working on the ward at around 6PM. "What are you still doing here?" he asked, shaking his head at me.

"Huh?" I said.

"You should go home and study," Jim told me. "Or else..."

Or else I'll fail my boards? Look bad in front of the attending? Flunk out of med school and end up homeless and penniless on the street??

"...Or else you'll end up in internal medicine."

"Oh," I said, confused by Jim's ominous tone of voice. "Actually, I want to do internal medicine."

"Oh god," Jim said.

Interns typically are the most miserable and bitter people you'll meet in the hospital, but Jim was especially miserable and bitter because he wanted to match in radiology but didn't. He was stuck doing a prelim year in medicine and wasn't having much luck finding a radiology program that would take him. One day he was complaining about it and said to me:

"You know, it sucks. All this work going through med school and you can't even do the field that you want to do."

Those words really haunted me. I eventually came to realize that internal medicine was not my first choice and when I matched in it two years later as a compromise (long geography-related story), I kept thinking to myself, All this work going through med school and I can't even do the field that I want to do. When I hid in the call room during my dreaded internship ICU rotation, I angrily thought to myself, All this work going through med school and I can't even do the field that I want to do.

So I quit. To do the field that I wanted to do.

Thanks, Jim!


  1. That's a nice one to read when I'm less than a week away from the boards! Thanks A LOT, Fizzy.


    For what it's worth, a good number of my friends matched into what they wanted to match into, and ended up quitting after 2 years anyway to do something else because they were miserable too.

    I'm glad it worked out for you in the end, though.

  2. A week from step 1, I decided I was interested in rads, so... yea, bad.

    I felt like such a freak for wanting to change my residency, but it turned out a lot of other people in my med school class left their original programs. I guess my Medical specialty quiz didn't help them as much as I had hoped it would (shameless plug :).

  3. You made that quiz? I've always been dying to know the algorithm...

  4. Yeah, I made it ages ago, back when I was an MS3. I think I gave points to each specialty based on which choice you picked. Like urine-soaked scrubs would give a point to urology. Whichever specialty had the most points at the end won.

    It's funny that I didn't even include my own specialty as an answer. I probably didn't know it existed.

  5. Thanks for this post, I enjoy reading your posts Fizzy :)


Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. So.Much.Spam.