So I finally finished the post I started to write months ago!
If it was up to me I would stand and peer for as long as I could. Be a resident for a few more years, try a few more rotations before making up my mind. I agonise over every decision and this is no exception. In a way choosing a career is one of the big life decisions we make. It touches every aspect of life for the coming decades (provided we live that long) – from the obvious to the not so obvious.
The kind of medical career we have determines how much we earn, the hours we work, our status within and outside the medical profession, the types of patients we see (if any!), the subset of skills we become good at… and the knowledge we allow to fade. It determines the cities and towns where we can and can’t train in, and the degree of freedom we have to move around after we finish training. Whether and when we can have families or children. The type of friends we keep and socialise with.
Yet in another sense, this is not as big of a decision as we sometimes make it to be. In Christ, whatever road we take will lead us home to the same eternal destination.
For every specialty you choose, there are some typical questions you would need to get used to answering. GPs will need to think of an appropriate answer to “so, when are you going to specialise?” Plastic surgeons will need to correct the misconception that their work is all about botox and facelifts. Radiologists and pathologists will need to explain why they don’t like to see people. Medical editors – “what’s that, so you’re a journalist?”
I’ve often compared our paths to that of a cell. In preclinicals I thought, ah, how wonderful it would be to have plenty more of these pluripotent stem cells that have the potential to be anything! Only later did I realise that the cells had to differentiate into something to be at all useful. Same goes for us in our careers, for our lives. Although I think, there will always be a sigh from time to time, for the “road not taken“.