For my entire life I knew I always wanted to be a doctor, that was never a question. At the age of 5, I declared I wanted to be a pediatrician, when the bossy know-it-all older sister of mine demanded I have a career in mind. Since that time, I have had many experiences, working in a veterinary, dental and "human" hospital setting and ultimately chose medicine as my career. I was a straight-through kind of girl. College, med-school, residency, boom, boom, boom. That being said, I always had someone telling what, when, are where, that is, until 4th year.
I finally had the chance to choose what I wanted, where, I wanted, etc
and I found it totally overwhelming. Before medical school, in college,
I spent a lot of time in OR's and doing clinical research. I was for
sure I was going to be a surgeon. Within the first month of medical
school, I had an OB shadowing experience and fell in love. Since that
point, I continued clinical research in OB and had a fascination with
the pathology, physiology, and academic side of OB. I did my surgical
rotation 3rd year and hated it- except peds surgery which I thought was
amazing. I then did OB, enjoyed the surgery part, but was less than
charmed by the OB lifestyle, attendings' attitudes, and inherent
"risks." I then did peds, loved the patients and parents, especially
low risk, "pleasant" growth and development outpatient issues, but truly
disliked inpatient and the "medicine" behind peds.
Then began the indecisiveness, peds ob peds ob, I weighed it back and
forth a million times, ultimately deciding I would miss the children in
my life too much not to do peds and regret the "lifestyle" of OBGYN and
malpractice of surgery and deliveries if I chose OB. I didn't even know
if I liked surgery, given that as a medical student we were lucky if we
even got to gown and scrub much less try our hand on the instruments.
Like many others, I was told, "If there is anything else you like, don't
pick this." So, there was something else I liked, and I didn't pick
OB. I thought, "How will this choice affect my future life and family?"
I am now an intern at a top program, I got my first choice, interviewed
everywhere I applied, and even got married and graduated medical school. With each "celebratory" experience I had this sinking feeling that I
had sold myself short. That I chose what I "thought" would be better.
Chose what would be a "rosier life" where everyone looked happy and ate
dinner with their children at night. But deep down as much as I tried
to convince myself that I was happy, I was never really "sold" on academic pediatrics. Do I love reading peds articles and
treatments? NO. Did I feel sad when I unsubscribed from the ACOG
listserve because it was like a slap in the face each month when I got
their mailings? YES.
So here I am, August of my intern year thinking, OH GOD, what did I do?
I did inpatient for a month, NOT a good fit. I am doing ER now and
like the pace, but cannot see myself in that ADD environment for my life,
and I only like the quick, "This is a cold you will be fine," not the
trached, g-tubed chronic kids because frankly, they break my heart. I
just cannot get the gusto to pick up a peds journal and read the stuff, I
have no interest in antibiotic choice for pneumonia, differentiating
between nephritic and nephrotic syndrome on a CMP or UA. I just don't
think I love pediatric medicine, but it makes me sad to think of
leaving the patients, happy attendings, and lifestyle behind.
My husband and I laid out a beautiful plan: work hard for a year or max 2
in residency then have a baby and finish in three quick years, BUY a
house and become real people with 2 real salaries and get rid of the med
school debt. I want this plan. I like this plan, the banker and the
happy, smiley little pediatrician wife. The only problem is, I am not
sure I can be that person, Looking toward the next 2.8 years of
residency looks like a long lonely road- 3+ months in a chronic care
facility, LOTS of months on the floor for heme onc, neurology, and
chronic GI patients. I want to like it, and there are some things I do
like, but I am not sure I can fall in love with the medicine, more with
the idea of it all.
I have felt a strong calling to switch to OB but every time I get close
to doing it, I back away and convince myself not to. But am I crazy to
leave peds at a top program for a specialty I am not sure is right?
It seems so shiny and exciting but is it? Will I feel better or think,
oh no, why did I leave peds? Is it work the risk? Should I just stick
it out, finish peds, then do a second residency if I really feel that I
need/want to? Is a second residency even a feasible option?
I don't like being the girl who cries all the time with a charmed life,
being tormented by the coulda shoulda woulda bug. But I don't want to
be the mom who wakes up in 10 years thinking "why did I switch?" or better
yet "why didn't I?" I don't want to be the ONLY unhappy pediatrician
anyone ever met because I was
wishing I was something else.
Now, in the midst of intern year, I am trying to sort out- do I hate
pediatric floor medicine and is that why I didn't like my first month? Was it just bad chemistry with my seniors and that made everyone
unhappy? Do I hate pediatric medicine but like the patients? Should I
the old college try and stick out a whole year before I make a hasty
decision and switch because once I apply to switch, I am locked into
that and out of this?
What is hardest for me in making this decision as that I love the
children and the families. I love making them smile, laugh, and feel
well. I love reassuring the parents, and it breaks my heart thinking of
leaving them now. Truly breaks my heart. But academically it is just
not there for me. I want to be that person, but I am concerned that I
cannot get up enough interest to learn it all. Are most days in gen peds
outpatient clinic happy and well or are they chronic, and labs test
follow-up kind of stuff? Are the NP/s and PA's taking all of the
pleasant easy patients away?
I am scared to switch and the uncertainty it brings. What if I
don't like the OR? What if I have terrible hand eye coordination. What
if I am scared and don't actually like the OB setting? I have heard
that pediatric gynecology exists, but how many of these are sweet
chubby babies and how many irresponsible teens?
If I leave peds, that will delay everything, life, children, etc.
I stand in limbo-
should I stay or should I go?