I’ve been resisting this feeling for a very long time. In 2015, I began to realise medicine wasn’t for me.
Half way through medical school, aged 20, I just felt sad almost every day.
I remember crying on my drive to placement, I badly didn’t want to go. Being the good student that I was, my attendance was excellent, but I hid the fact that I was miserable.
Always a hard worker, my exam results never suffered, and I did well in university. Yet, I kind of hated it.
But, I really wanted to like it. I’d come this far, isn’t this meant to be my calling? What else would I do with my life?
The hamster wheel of “it’ll get better”
I was kind of reassured by seniors that medical school was the worst. “Don’t worry, it will get better”.
Medical school is tough because you feel out of place. You’re constantly out of your comfort zone, need to be assertive and can feel in the way. It’s a steep learning curve.
My seniors said that once you start working things improve. So just hang in there.
I did hang in there, then I began internship.
Okay, medical school wasn’t easy, but internship was terrible.
All of a sudden I was told that of course internship is terrible, but residency is better. Plus you need your general registration to do anything.
So I ran that hamster wheel to residency. Nope, still the same! Not better at all. Then seniors said that being a junior doctor really does suck, but once you finish your specialty, the world will magically open up.
So that’s how I got ten years down the road of medicine, with the promise that the next step will be better.
But what if it won’t be? So far, it wasn’t improving, if anything I was feeling worse.
Another thing that bothered me was the idea that I could spend 10+ years doing something I disliked with the hope of it suddenly becoming what I enjoy. It didn’t make much sense.
Why don’t I like it?
Okay, after a long struggle with my emotions towards medicine I have to finally accept that I just don’t like it.
It isn’t for me.
I could write a very long list of why. But basically, I’ve realised that I don’t really have a list of why I want to be a doctor. The only reasons I can think of are money and stability. Though I do crave stability to soothe my worrying, financial gain isn’t a motivator for me.
I dislike the huge responsibility, the consumeristic nature of medicine, threat of medico-legal action, time pressures, understaffing, overtime, unsociable hours, exploitation of junior doctors and taking work home. Other reasons include the verbal abuse, physical violence, bullying, teaching by humiliation, how it can take over your life and the forever moving goal posts.
I’m not excited by medicine, I see it as a huge liability that isn’t worth the mental anguish. I’m tired.
Game changer – denial to acceptance
One of my biggest realisations was the fact that I couldn’t live with myself if I made the wrong decision for a patient, especially a child. I didn’t want to harm anyone.
Medicine is high stakes, though you can cure, you can also kill if an error occurs.
I enjoy helping people and being vulnerable. Connecting deeply with someone is so special and healing is an amazing thing. But I think I can do that in another medium, outside of conventional medicine.
But before I decide my next move, it’s time to heal myself.