If you’ve read my other posts it’s no secret that I want to leave medicine. But why haven’t I done it yet? (Check out my similar post on disillusioned medic.)
When I look within the overwhelming feeling is fear.
When did I start wanting to leave?
At the young age of 16 I decided to become a doctor. I didn’t know what it entailed, but I wanted to help people. Plus, I was good at exams and school. The whole process of ‘getting in’ was a challenge to me.
I figured I’d try once, and if I got into med school I’d do it. So I did get in.
I also signed a contract, I was 17 years old, that stipulated that I must work as a doctor in the country for 5 years or pay the government one hundred thousand dollars.
The first two years of medical school were okay. Learning, university and exams was within my comfort zone. I was used to school and enjoyed it. When I started my first year in full time clinical placement I realised that medicine was hard.
I began to dread going to university, and would cry on the drive to my placement.
This is when I began questioning why I was there. I didn’t want to do medicine anymore. After a year off I decided to finish my degree. I figured finishing what I started would be worthwhile.
My soft quit
My soft quit was not applying to a full-time job this year. Not being a doctor full time, but also not completely burning my bridges.
I figured time would help me work out what to do with myself. Hoping that one day I’d magically wake up knowing how to proceed.
Keep running back
Then I felt lazy and confused. I spent my time at home. My savings were dwindling. What was I going to do next?
I decided to go back to what I knew, and began working again.
Then I figured I should probably make a plan for specialisation.
My main interest is to advocate for the mental health of doctors and medical students. How could I do this? After speaking with people involved in this area it became apparent that the only straight forward route was to do general practice or psychiatry training first.
So I decided to do general practice.
Yet I have the biggest fear that if I do GP I will suffer emotionally, physically and socially. How can I promote mental health and wellbeing if I’m mentally unstable?
So many people tell me to ‘just do it’ or that my ‘life will open up after specialisation’. Yet I know how I am in clinical medicine. It’s not something sustainable. I fear that I will be unable to handle the weight of clinical decision making. Even working a few shifts every few weeks weighs heavily on my mind.
Why don’t I leave?
There are a few reasons why I haven’t left yet. All of them are based on fear.
- What others will think of me – especially family
- Poverty and debt
- Regretting the decision
What am I going to do besides medicine? Will I have debt that I can’t pay? Maybe I’ll fail at something else or be labelled a ‘loser’.
It’s all very scary and unknown. Who will I be and what will become of me?
There’s been moments where I say “enough” and decide never to return. Then I renege and go back. Now, the realisation that I would prefer to do almost anything than feel the way I feel in clinical medicine is hitting me.
I think it’s time to hang my stethoscope up.
Will I make it out once and for all?