Best Foot Forward #2: Diving Deep
Wasting no time at all, today I'd like to discuss with you what your motivations are to attend medical school. Brace yourself, this may get slightly philosophical, but doctors are a wee bit philosophical, so you can handle it.
1. Why answer this question now?
If by some insane happenstance you find that perhaps medicine isn't right for you, it is in your best interest to find that out as soon as possible. The road is long. People say its not a sprint, its a marathon. They almost got it right. It's a marathon that you sprint! That being said, medical school is not impossible (it is easier than residency in most ways).
If you're Type A, or just an Achiever, it is hard to even think about walking away from something or giving up on something. But, please, you owe it to yourself to seriously examine all of your motivations to attend medical school. I can promise you this- whether it is today or 10 years from now, on this road we call "Doctor," circumstance will squeeze your hidden motivations right out of you. Being honest with yourself today will be protective against the psychological whiplash when that moment comes.
2. What is Medicine going to give you?
A word I have heard many describe the medical profession. It is a generalization to be sure. Is medicine thankless? I believe people arrive at this conclusion when they go into medicine hoping it give them something they wanted. Money. Power. Sex Appeal. Purpose. I suppose medicine will give you a bit of each of those. But somewhere between the end of Year 2 of medical school and the end of Year 2 of residency, you will find that the only ones who can live on those things are the extremely shallow. Paradoxically, those who care nothing of others and can effectively advocate for their own gain do very well in medicine, a career devoted to the well-being of others. Most people want the things above, but they want something more than all of that.
If you expect medicine to answer the real question, "Do I Matter?", you will be disappointed. Just like everything else in this life, the question of purpose cannot be answered by any job, status, association, or net worth.
3. What are the alternatives?
All hope is not lost! The beauty of being brutally honest with yourself allows you the acuity to spot the silver lining. Being this raw about your motivations reveals that if you apply the same questions to almost any other job, you will find the same answer. Most professions are much more self-centered than medicine. The motivations mentioned above are not as covert in most fields. Saying you work to get a paycheck isn't looked down upon. In fact, it's necessary if you want to survive!
So pat yourself on the back. You have asked yourself some hard questions. You have come to the end of yourself and admitted that, yes, you too have selfish ambition; you too have hidden motivations. We all do. But what greater a profession where selfish ambition can be harnessed to help your fellow man and woman?
The hidden gem in this discussion is that a deeper understanding of yourself is EXACTLY what medical school admissions committees are desperate for! Quite correctly, the admissions office figures that if you can't even ask yourself hard questions and be honest, how will you ask others the same?
I would encourage you to write down your thoughts about this exercise, how you can be more honest with yourself and others. Write down how you incorporate that into your daily life, and SURPRISE!!! You have just taken a step towards a draft for your personal statement.
Be sure to comment below and share your thoughts.