There is a new post up at Mothers in Medicine. It’s a letter from the mailbag, from an ambitious high school junior named Taj, who knows that zie wants to go to medical school, and will be starting an accelerated BS/MD program soon.
I am really interested in anesthesiology and cardiology so my question is really for MommyDoctor and JC. I wanted to know how and when did you ladies juggle and decide when to have kids and also what do you both love about your careers?
Taj goes on to say that zie is also interested in ob/gyn and thoracic surgery. I was surprised to see such a wide range of specialties that I see as really, really different from each other.
I wrote a reply that I wanted to reproduce here, since it’s about how I ended up where I am. But, please go check out the original post, especially to see if the contributors that Taj asked talk about their choices and paths, too.
Here is my reply:
I know I wasn’t specifically addressed, but I just wanted to jump in and say something. Hope that’s OK.
I have a different perspective than the contributors you asked, and I hope they weigh in from the point of view as someone who is living with their career choices. I am sure they all have really good things to say about the specialties you are interested in. I am halfway there, and you sparked some thoughts.
Congrats on knowing that you want to do something in the medical field, and good for you for planning and thinking in advance. I am a big advocate for dreaming and planning ahead, because the shlep to the light at the end of the tunnel in medicine is a long one.
I noticed that the three areas you are interested in are quite different types of medicine. Anesthesiology is a completely different life, not just lifestyle, than ob/gyn, with a completely different type of interaction with patients (asleep vs. awake, acute vs. long term).
A thoracic surgeon (9 years of training, general surgery (6)–>thoracic surgery (3) ) is much different that going into internal medicine (3 years) then a cardiology fellowship (another 2 t0 3).
I think you will see which specialty and training requirements suits your temperament and interests the best. I was convinced during my premed that I wanted to be an endocrinologist. But, after spending just a little bit of time with pregnant women, I was sold on ob/gyn and have never looked back. That was after swearing I would never be interested in ob/gyn. But, I haven’t done my clinical rotations yet.
I think I could never do anesthesiology, because I love patient interaction and continuity of care (and, frankly, I wouldn’t have the grades to go gas if I wanted to). I couldn’t do orthopedics because it seems like bicycle repair to me, and I would be miserable. I couldn’t do pediatrics, because I would cry all the time. I can barely make it through a lecture about a sick toddler without tearing up.
I am thrilled there are people who are attracted to these other specialties, and hope they love their careers. I would hate for anyone who is ill-suited for ob/gyn to end up there, also. It is a unique area in which you interact with people who are on a wide spectrum of well to sick in a lot of important and highly emotional times in their lives. It is a great balance between surgery and medicine.
I tell people to sign up for email table of contents of the main journals in each field, and glance over them once a month. If the titles excite you, and you want to click through and read the abstracts of at least a few of the articles, then that may be a good field for you. If all else fails, you can try out Fizzy’s handy guide to choosing a specialty.