The most difficult thing is the decision to act.
When I was in medical school, I had to choose a specialty. Because I liked everything and because I worked in a hospital with a Family Medicine residency program and had gotten to know and respect all of the trainees, I was certain that I would go into Family Practice. I was even in the Family Practice Interest Club at my medical school. I was certain of my career path.
Then, I rotated through Obstetrics.
Suddenly, I was not so certain. I did not like delivering babies. When deliveries go well, they are great. But, occasionally, things go very wrong. Besides, babies can come any time of the day or night. They even had a faculty call room on the OB ward in the hospital. Ugh.
So – now I liked everything except OB.
What is Family Medicine minus Obstetrics? Right! Primary Care General Internal Medicine! This looked perfect. Continuity of care, lots of time to meet people (or so it seemed at the time), and no Obstetrics. Ideal.
Then I rotated as a Surgery sub-intern. I realized that this would be my final surgical rotation in school. I would never be in the operating room again! I had loved the OR – its energy and the excitement. Realizing that I would never again be in that environment made me both sad and ripe for suggestion.
A couple of days later, an ENT surgeon asked me what specialty I was pursuing. “Internal Medicine!” I responded proudly. “Do you like diabetes and hypertension?” he asked. “I dunno. I suppose,” I responded hopefully. He just stared at me. “You go into Internal Medicine and you will spend the next 35 years of your life just taking care of those two diagnoses!!!” He turned on his heel and walked away.
Needless to say, this was disconcerting. What if he was right? I paused, trying to figure out exactly why I had ruled out a surgical field in the first place. Then I remembered: At 6'2", I could not find scrub clothes that fit. I was not going to spend the rest of my career wearing scrub pants that were too short!
“I think I can get over that...” I thought to myself.
A few weeks later, I was in an Otolaryngology residency program and I have never looked back. Once in a while, though, I happen to look down, and sadly realize that my scrubs pants are still chronically too short. Maybe no one has noticed.