Why Did I Become A Doctor?

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I get asked this question periodically in my real life and I realized the other day that I have not really talked about that here. At least that I can remember. I have written a ton of crap though, so if I have I am sure as heck not gonna go looking for it.

So in response to JF of Pursuit of Happiness and his post “Our Ways” I decided to write about this question today.

You may be expecting to hear me say that I knew I always wanted to be a doctor but that would be a lie.

My first memory of thinking about becoming a doctor was as a first or second grader.

My father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought quickly about what would get me a pat on the back and said, “Nurse.” “Why not be a doctor?” he responded. Well, truthfully, I did not think girls were allowed to do that. This exchange is interesting because when medical school became a goal, my parents were the ones who were dead set against it. Because I was a girl.

I did not really think about medicine again until I was in college looking at starting a Ph.D. in genetics. I knew I had to have a doctorate in something. I wanted to hear people call me DOCTOR. After all of the bullying I had been a target of as a kid, I needed to know that I was better than all of them.

I received a scholarship in my senior year to do research on a protein in pea chloroplasts.

Mind numbing.

I knew right then and there that I needed to think about something else.

Medicine?

I realized that I really, really wanted to do Gross Anatomy if I did nothing else with my life. I knew in my bones that this was what I needed to do with my life.

So I graduated (too late at that point to apply to med school) and did a year of research while I went through the application process.

The problem, I quickly found out, was that despite good grades and MCAT scores, I had “too much science” under my belt. It was one of those times that the pendulum was swinging that way. I was told several times that I either needed to move to a demographically underserved area where it would be assumed that I was a minority and it would not matter, or I needed to get a liberal arts degree.

Whatever.

I got in, you bastards.

That year.

And here I am.

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85 thoughts on “Why Did I Become A Doctor?

  1. Interesting story. I went to graduate school because I knew that with an undergraduate degree in physics I didn’t know how to do anything useful (i.e. that somebody would pay me for). After a year of graduate work in physics, I realized I didn’t have the intuition to do that, so I switched to math. I would have switched to computer science, where I do have the intuition, but that degree hadn’t been invented yet (computers were still built using vacuum tubes in those days). Life pushed us in interesting directions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Victo, thank you! Love your aggressiveness! Could you also write what it takes to become a doctor, especially how “easy” is to be a resident? Too many people believe that doctors are overpaid!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story! So based on your pendulum comment, did you major in the sciences in undergrad? Meaning at the time med schools preferred a non-science background? Just curious since I’m definitely considering medical school right now and I’m wondering what “they” want! Thanks again!

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  4. “I got in, you bastards.” If you look back at one of my early pieces on the closed door, I had the dream of becoming a … and turned into a teacher. I was told, “You’ll never be a public school administrator: You only have Catholic school experience.” I did it, you bastard! I do have one choice that would have changed my life forever: finishing my PhD. I got in, had a start, had a dissertation planned (Teilhard de Chardin and Darwin–of course), but another road I chose. So, my liberal arts degree and school administrator’s license allowed me to have nearly 50 years in education. No regrets.

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  5. Hmm so you started where Mendel left off with his pea plants huh lol. And i’ve never heard of being too sciencey to apply to school- i know for diversity they always need an english major or something in the class. (who usually quits after the second semester of patho…)

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    • As it was told to me, the thought was that you could teach a smart person the science but you could not teach them how to communicate. Apparently liberal arts majors are better communicators. But you are right. They really can’t hack the science most of the time… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most of the “liberal arts” majors i knew that applied to med schools are really science students incognito so that they increase their chances of getting in via diversity. Smart wolves, but of course I learned the sheep’s true identity a little too late and wonder why I couldn’t be so clever…lol

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  6. Good for you for not letting others dissuade you. But I doubt I could ever be a doctor. When I was 15 years old I darn near fainted in a veterinarian’s office after watching a minor procedure being done on my dog. Right then and there I knew medicine was not for me.

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  7. I think I was in second grade when I told my dad I wanted to be a stewardess, so I could dress pretty and travel all the time. As I recall, he made me go sit in a corner. Years later, my pre-med advisor gravely advised me that I would never get into medical school, and so he would never write me a letter. So, I did a post-bac, worked on a research project, aced it all, and applied to probably fifty medical schools… Got into exactly one. You only need to get into one! I thank my parents for supporting me through all of that, because I am thrilled to have proven that pre-med advisor totally wrong! 🙂

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  9. That’s it — Revel in it!
    I’m no success compared to the achievements and level/status of many people who surround me in DC. But friends and coworkers i left behind while building my career (really just a livelihood) are impressed. While the ultimatum stunned me when i was 16, I can’t help chuckling at it now. What? My father gave me 3 career options, if i was determined to do something besides catch a husband and have babies… A truck driver, a mechanic, or a mortician. He was very enthusiastic about me taking the mortician option. No… I didn’t do any of those things. ❤ Mega-hugs!

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  12. Woo Hoo! Good for you! And you’re definitely a blessing to the medical profession. 😀 By the way, have you ever had the opportunity to see any of your childhood bullies in your office? What a way to give ’em a what-for! (Now, bend over… This won’t hurt… Much.) 😉

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  13. The nurse/doctor transition makes me smile for a couple of reasons.

    1. My mom told me and my sisters we could be anything we wanted to be. Later, fearing she’d sent us too far down the “wrong path,” she told us we should think of what we wanted to be … and marry someone who did that instead. (Too late, Mom!)

    2. D told me a couple of weeks ago he likes being a boy now but wants to be a girl when he grows up. I asked a few questions to get a sense where he was coming from before sussing it out.

    Me: Boys can be teachers, you know!
    D: Really?!?!?!!

    (We had a good conversation after that, of course!)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sounds Kind of familiar! I was doing breast cancer research on cell lines after my Masters, while I looked for a PhD. I decided there was no way i could do that forever! So I went back to school for an Arts degree while I applied to med… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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