Sunday, October 12, 2014

What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now

''What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?''

I was given this question today, and I immediately went tongue-tied. What do I want to see myself doing when I am 30 years old? The truth is, I can't even provide a good answer if I were given question like ''Why do you want to be a doctor?''. A question that had been asked so frequently during the many interviews that I attended. This normally followed by ''What specialty you are interested in?'', ''Where do you plan to practice?'', etc.

I honestly have no idea to all the questions above. I remember when I was in matrics and was expected to fill in my preferred courses, I put medicine solely because of my passion for Human Biology. Other than this, my future is a blank canvas. When I went to interviews, I heard so many noble stories of what inspire people to want to do medicine. But not for me. I have no stories as such, I only let nature takes its course, I follow what my heart tells me, which leads me to studying medicine today. I have so many friends whom their parents/relatives are doctors. Probably that's the reason they are in a medical school. In comparison, both my parents are very less well-educated. They tell me they are proud of me because I choose to be a doctor, and they live in a belief that doctor is a very noble profession and that I will earn a lot of money out of that. They never told me what I am going to face. But I never blame them for that, as I should be responsible for what I want to pursue and get myself well prepared after all. Just like how people always tell us what we should pursue after: fame, fortune, popularity. But that's not always true, it is our responsibility to determine what we actually want. Only with that discovery will we feel complete. Perhaps, that is the brink of adulthood.

So I have to admit that I have no sufficient exposure to the reality of medicine before I enter medical school, I only knew I was intelligent enough to do medicine. Since I was young, my exam grades is the only aspect in my life that I am confident and proud of. I did well in all of the major exams. I guess all I had was luck. The awareness of that there's so much more to life and medicine than memorizing facts and regurgitating them, really makes me feel like giving up. I am in my third year now - maybe, maybe I can really survive medical school, but what happens after that?

The end point is really not the medical degree. The degree might even be the beginning. People always say medicine is a long and tough journey. Even old people are telling you how hard medicine is. But what they didn't know is that not the extra years we spend in university which makes medicine hard, it's the long lead-in period to becoming a qualified doctor. Let's say if you decide at 18 to be a doctor, you still have at least ten years before you practice independently in your field. Ten years is long. So many things can change in these ten years. Maybe I will slowly lose enthusiasm for medicine. Maybe I get more and more disappointed by things we can't change, the whole medical system in our country. Maybe I no longer able to get the sense of satisfaction from patients - patients pay me, expect me to cure them, then they leave. No respect, no gratitude, no appreciation, nothing. Slowly medicine is evolving to just another profession, doctors have become like everybody else - no satisfaction from the job, no human touch, constantly feeling insecure. I considered myself lucky, because before today, I never thought that I would ever think this way. Main reason being I wasn't taught this way. My lecturers have been giving us a very positive outlook of our future careers, and how much impact we are going to give to the society once we graduate. But now I am not even halfway through medical school, and I am already doubting myself. Most of us went into medicine to help people. We want to practice medicine the right way, but too many forces today are propelling us away from it. Will I become the kind of doctor I despise? Can you believe it, I doubt myself of the decision I once so proud of. The closer I am to my clinical year, the louder the alarm clock in me seems to blare that I should know what I want. The exhaustive commitment that is required in becoming a good doctor, do I have it?

I was told that what we do now has to get us prepared for our careers, for the competition that we going to get when we have so many medical graduates every year. Then I question myself: when my colleagues were busy doing hospital attachments, going to several different conferences, doing research programme or even charity work, what I did in my three months of summer break? I went on a trip to Europe, I had fun, I went to activities unrelated to my field of study. Frankly speaking, I cannot afford to play at all. I have no experience working in an emergency room, in a doctor's office nor any hands-on position with patients. I am already not gifted with a smart brain, yet I did nothing, to attempt to secure my position ten years from now. I am so far behind all the others. What am I doing? Why am I spending time doing things that are not gonna be helpful to me?

If really there must be a reason why I am still holding on to what I am doing, it is because of my family. They never forced me to be a doctor though. However, the exciting look that they have in their eyes when they start telling the others that their daughter is going to be a doctor, telling me what a bright future I have ahead of me after I graduate - makes me stay. The last thing I would want to do is to disappoint them.

Would I choose to enter the medical profession if I were to decide on a career again?

I guess all I have to do is to forget about all the external factors and back to the basics - what are doctors for. I would say the human moments that I am going to share with my patients. As long as I am serving my patients well, no matter which specialty I am in, which hospital I am going to work, they don't matter to me much. The sense of satisfaction that I will get when my patient recovers from illness, the simple happiness that I will get from a thank you from my patient - these are more than enough to keep me going.


  1. My dear, please don't ever doubt yourself! You're way smarter than you think and you're much more capable than you know. In our eyes, you are the best doctor there is! Seeing the passion you have for the human body, your kindness and the belief that you can change the world, one step at a time, I already know that you're going to be a smart and compassionate doctor. Don't let these things get you down. You're really, truly blessed with a smart brain. Also, don't regret your trip to Europe, it's a once in a lifetime experience that you can never get back! Many envy you, don't feel bad about it!! We believe in you that you will continue to do your best, I believe in you, so please believe in yourself too.

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