I Am Changing

12 02 2011

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As I wrote a few blog posts ago, January was a month of change and clarity for me.

I’ve deleted the word psychiatrist from the tagline of this blog, not because I no longer consider psychiatry to be one of my top potential medical specialty choices, but because it shouldn’t be the only one.

I took a test on the AAMC’s Career in Medicine website meant to help students explore what specialties might be a good fit for us depending on what type of practice you prioritize (e.g., Do you prefer a practice where you…obtain consultation from other physicians in arriving at a diagnosis?…deal with incurable diseases?…use treatment concepts and procedures that undergo rapid change?).

This test is a little silly in some ways, in my opinion, because often we answer these questions with preconceived notions of what we might want to be, so in some ways the answers we choose are based on certain specialties that we have in mind, so the results that we get are self-fulfilling prophecies based on what we went into the test thinking about.

Regardless, I still think there is value in this online assessment, and here are the results of my test:

47 % Psychiatry
22 % Internal Medicine
19 % Pediatrics (…this is apparently not a word, according to Google spell check…)
5 % Family Medicine
3 % Anesthesiology

After you take the test, the Careers in Medicine website gives you a summary of each of your top recommended specialties, and an interesting part of these summaries is that they actually include what Myers-Briggs personality types tend to be found in each medical specialty!  The funny thing, though, is that understanding myself and reflecting through Myers-Briggs and my friends in December was what helped me realize that I often love planning too much, to the point that I am in danger of being inflexible when it comes to my career and life plans.

But not wanting to narrow my options so early wasn’t the only reason why I decided to keep more of an open mind.  The truth is there is a lot I do not yet know about psychiatry.  I know that I love noticing the speech patterns, paralanguage, and behavioural cues of people around me to infer what’s going on in their minds, and I genuinely want to help those I care about in dealing with personal issues.  What I do not know is whether I would want to get involved on a similarly intense personal level with patients (i.e., not my friends) on a regular basis, but be forced to maintain only professional relationships.  I think that I would be good at empathizing with patients while maintaing emotional and mental distance, but it’s hard to say whether I could maintain it without burning out, or whether I would get bored.

Of course, psychiatry still fascinates me, because ultimately, I believe treating the mind in an individualized and holistic way is what truly heals a patient, and I think individual cases would be fascinating and challenging.

Another consideration, though, is that I think I would be interested in the possibility of moving upwards in the hospital hierarchy, but I’m not sure whether certain specialties are more prone to being promoted to administrative positions.

Finally, internal medicine and pediatrics both fascinate me tremendously.  Internal medicine, because internists figure out what patients have (i.e., diagnose) and they regularly deal with most branches of medicine, so the diversity and puzzle-solving aspects would certainly keep it interesting for me, I think.  Meanwhile, pediatrics involves complicated legal, ethical, and social issues that may often include interactions with parents and social workers to determine the best course of action to take care of a child holistically so that she or he can be in the best shape to live out his or her life, which hopefully will last a very long time.  I think I would love the complicated decision-making that happens with pediatric medicine, but more importantly, I think I would be grateful everyday for the opportunity to give children quality of life that will allow them to become future community and world leaders, making an impact in the world because their health affords them to do so.

I’ve recently even started considering gastroenterology, but I’ll write more about the beauty that is the GI tract in a future post…

In short, my opinion of medicine, and how I relate to it, changes everyday, so pigeoning myself into a corner won’t do me any favours.

So yes, for now, I do not know what type of doctor I’ll become, and that’s more than ohkay.

I am a-changing, indeed…but that wasn’t even even the biggest change that happened in my life in January…

To sign off, I leave you with one of my favourite songs from the musical Dreamgirls, about the beauty of renewal, growth, and the recognition that we need our friends to help us get there…

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