July 31st, 2015
Do I Want My Daughter to Be a Doctor?
It was not a very typical Saturday morning in Cleveland, at least not to us. My soon to be 1-year-old daughter woke up with surprise in her big doe eyes. That’s right… she woke up not in her nanny’s lap or in her crib, but in between both of her parents who were still sleeping. This was probably the first time since she started recognizing us that she found both of us beside her in the morning.I smiled at her. “That’s how it is supposed to be, dear, but your parents are still residents, they are budding physicians. Moreover, for you, my little munchkin, your mom and I split calls so that one of us can be with you, although that leaves us in a situation where we live together but don’t see each other for days. Now I can see the obvious question in your innocent mind, ‘why do you work so hard, mom and dad?’ I could give you a simple answer, like, to get you more toys.”
A sudden cold zing waved through my back and jolted through me this lazy morning. I asked the same question to myself… why did I choose this path? More than 12 years ago, when I started medical school on a different continent, I actually had to work harder than this to get there. I thought it would be cool to be in a profession that involves saving lives. I chose clinical pharmacology as my residency specialty because I felt I needed to know about drugs that can cure suffering people. After I finished residency, I decided that my path wasn’t good enough. Call me ambitious or an overachiever! But the reality was, that feeling was chasing me. The decision to leave my country, my parents, and an established career was not easy. Now, when I’m in the final year of my second residency, have become a chief resident, and have almost started seeing the glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel again, part of me is back to asking hard questions. “That’s it? Or shall I go for subspecialty training?” I don’t know the answer yet. The only truth is ‘miles to go before I sleep.’ The primary reason I chose to apply for chief residency was to teach and give back to my juniors what I have learned so far. This is the most satisfying part of practicing medicine to me — being intellectually challenged every morning. However, this ambition takes away a few extra hours from my daughter’s play time, as daddy is still busy with his Ipad after coming home from work. I’m now used to switching between UpToDate and YouTube Baby Songs while she sits on my lap. But, it’s the rare Saturday morning that the three of us wake up together.
I never felt bored during my long course of training. Physically, I was tired at times, but mentally, I was never fatigued. It gives me feeling of extreme accomplishment and happiness when I see my patients can connect to me. They want to come back and see me again even when they’re not sick. This liaison keeps me going. There is no better feeling than throwing some rays of hope into some hopeless eyes. Even when I have lost the track at times, my teeny tiny, but extremely strong, girlfriend-turned-wife and now mother of my child stood by me like a lone cypress for last 15 years. She has been my pillar of strength in my topsy turvy roller coaster ride, and undoubtedly, she’s the woman who made me what I’m today.
So I come back to the eternal question, “do I want my daughter to become a doctor?” Of course, I want her to make her own choice at the end, but my answer is YES. Because I think there is no better way to live than to feel content at the end of the day for what you do. I do sleep well at night, not because I am tired, but because I am happy.