For a lot of you, the time is coming up to pick a specialty and choose a track for your upcoming rotations. I thought I’d tell you about how I picked #OBGYN
I was so torn up about the decision. I intentionally went into medical school to pursue psychiatry. And although I kept an open mind about every specialty, I really didn’t think I would be convinced otherwise. In fact, of all the specialties I’d kept an open mind about, OBGYN was the only one I had exclusively ruled out. I truly thought that I’d hate it! And though I am a woman, the thought of examining another woman’s genitals every day for a living didn’t exactly pique my interest. And the babies? Not for me. I dreaded that rotation all year!
As my core rotations went by, one by one, I found that none of them were giving me that warm and fuzzy feeling people say you’re supposed to have. This didn’t surprise me, because none of them were psychiatry. Then my 6 weeks in OBGYN began and my internal dialogue went something like this:
“Oh hey, it’s super fun working with women all day. Interesting, listening to baby’s heart is actually pretty cool. Woa, that delivery was crazy. You know, everything I had dreaded is actually not bothering me at all. Wait, am I really liking this stuff? A surgical specialty? Which would require me to lose a LOT of sleep and be up close and personal with all my patients??”
That’s pretty much how it happened. I couldn’t ignore how excited I was to be there every day, that I started to visualize my life as an OBGYN, and that I felt like I had a knack for picking up the material quickly. It didn’t hurt that my attending really encouraged me, and told me that I was well suited for the specialty.
Still, I pushed those fuzzy feelings away because I felt like I was “cheating” on psychiatry and still needed to give it a chance. (Ironic, considering that any time I was asked which specialty I was pursuing I would responsibly say “I’m leaning towards psych, but keeping an open mind until the end of the year!”)
When my psych rotation came around I was beyond excited! An inpatient facility with plenty of interesting cases. However…I didn’t have that warm & fuzzy feeling every day. Or any of the days I was there. I tried to convince myself that I was loving it, and even though I really enjoyed my time there, I couldn’t shut out that nagging thought which said “why don’t I feel as excited to be here as I did in OBGYN?”
The whole thing really threw me. I knew that I might change interests, but I assumed I would lean towards family, or internal medicine, or neurology. Not SURGERY! I didn’t want that life.
I had told myself that I was going to be a psychiatrist for so long that I had never even contemplated (or braced myself for) what life would be like in any other specialty. I knew that by choosing a surgical specialty I would have to work twice as hard in order to bump my next board score. I knew that I’d have to really network and do more research to pad my resume. I knew that I’m at a disadvantage being an IMG. I knew that I’d have plenty of sleepless nights on L&D as a resident. I knew that so much would be required of me, and I didn’t think that I’d be able to do it. I still struggle sometimes with my decision, especially as I look at the residents I work with now on MFM and think “how am I ever going to learn everything I have to know to practice in this field??”
But I finally feel at peace. Part of what solidified my decision was speaking with amazing women in surgical specialties at the Girl Med Live event who showed/told me that it’s totally possible to have a life and be a surgeon at the same time (especially after residency). All the misinformation about not being able to have a family, not being able to have semi-regular hours, and being resigned to a life of call room mattresses and constantly beeping pagers was cleared up and I am so grateful to them for that!
As I’ve adjusted to the new version of my future, I’ve learned that nothing is predictable, and the things you think you can predict probably won’t happen the way you anticipate. I hope that I can reflect on this post in a few years during the thick of residency and remember my why. Though I feel at peace about my decision, I still worry intensely about how difficult residency is going to be, and how much will be at stake dealing with patient’s lives (and their babies lives) every day. Of course lives are at stake in any medical specialty, it’s just that in others, your patients aren’t lying sedated on a table with their uterus externalized. Oy vey.
I hope that in sharing my story, you will be inspired to follow your heart and choose the specialty you have the most fun in, even if it intimidates you. What I have learned from amazing female physicians is that your career life is what you make of it, and your dream job exists! I plan on creating mine, and I hope you do too.
See you this fall at interviews! #match2020