Fill in the blank: If I wasn’t going to be a doctor, I’d be a ____________.
A couple weeks ago, I got invited to be a guest on the Today Show. One of their producers asked me to send in some childhood pictures so I reached out to my mother. As I flipped through the old photos, pleasant memories returned and she told me stories about various pics. When we got to my preschool graduation, she laughed and said, “That day, all the other kids said they wanted to be firemen and police officers. When you got on stage, you said you wanted to be a doctor. Everyone started clapping for you.”
I have absolutely no recollection of this and didn’t even know I wanted to be a doctor at the age of 4. Well, in reality, I was probably just making something up (I really wasn’t set on medicine until college). The truth is, I always wanted to be an NBA player, but height isn’t one of my God given gifts. As mom told me stories, I got to thinking, what would life be like if I wasn’t a doctor. Would I be happy? That then led me to think about all of you on DiverseMedicine.com. I’m sure these questions surface in your minds from time to time.
When I got accepted into medical school, I went out and bought a custom dog tag (that was the thing to do during my college days) that had the caduceus symbol and read “My Passion.” At that time, I truly believed that medicine was my destiny and perhaps I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t a doctor. Many of my friends had that same mindset. We ate, breathed, and slept the premed life. This was good, and maybe necessary to achieve the goals which so many of us now have. But when I ask myself that oh so famous question, “If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be a …”, I have absolutely no trouble answering it.
If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be a social entrepreneur. My true passion is to help others live up to their full potential. That’s exactly what a social entrepreneur does. They focus on providing services/solutions for others (typically marginalized communities) to the ultimate good of society.
So why does this matter? Why am I telling you what I’d do if I wasn’t a doctor? Because I want you to understand that who you are and your life’s mission is not linked to your career. There are few things I find more satisfying that walking into an ICU and helping a patient go from deathly ill to walking out of the hospital. It’s extremely gratifying and I love that feeling. However, it’s important to understand why I love it. It’s not necessarily because of the medial aspects. Those just make me really really like it. But I LOVE it because I helped a patient live up to their potential in a unique way that not many people can do.
I’ve heard people say there’s no other job in the world they could do. I don’t find that to be a thoughtful statement. I challenge you all to spend some time thinking about this question. Find at least 2 other careers which you’d be happy doing. This will force you to truly evaluate why you love the field of medicine. What is the driving force behind your passion?
So my question to you is, if you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?
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