…and without just pasting my personal statement below or using generic reasons like “I care about womens’ health” or “I like to help people.”
I went into my 3rd year of medical school (clinical rotations) with an open mind…a totipotent medical student, if you will. I had an inkling I’d want to do an internal medicine subspecialty, and all of my friends had me pegged as a pediatrician seeing as I babysit so much. OB/GYN was never on the radar.
I enjoyed all of my clinical rotations; I could usually find something I liked (and also disliked) about each of the core specialities. I really enjoyed working with families in pediatrics, but didn’t like the idea of having to make “the call” between sending a child for further tests or sending them home. I found psychiatry as a study to be interesting (seriously, the day I heard someone tell me they had a chip planted in their brain just like the textbooks said a patient would, I was floored), but found many of the social work issues to be challenging.
When I did my OB/GYN rotation (6 weeks), a friend described me as “glowing.” Maybe it was hanging around all those pregnant ladies, but I really enjoyed the work and both the challenges and rewards that come with the field. And, because OB/GYN was never a part of “the plan,” I had a subsequent quarter life crisis (because my life is obviously so hard if my worst problem is choosing OB/GYN vs another specialty).
During my 6 week OB/GYN rotation, I also did a week in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, a subspecialty I had no idea I ever wanted to do, but that really piqued my interest. I came home every day and read Dr. Licciardi’s blog (the attending I was working with) on fertility issues. I made good friends with a fellow (we became friends by talking about running and working out, actually) who was invaluable in advising me. She basically assured me that I could do a “hard” surgical based residency and still have a life (relatively).
I think in determining what I ultimately wanted to do, I considered several aspects of a field including the intellectual draw, the emotional pull, the patient population I’d be working with, work culture, and life balance.
In terms of the “intellectual draw,” I love nothing more than a feedback loop. I loved them in college biochemistry. I loved them when learning 2nd year endocrinology. A lot of OB/GYN involves hormonal feedback loops, which means I’m a pretty happy camper. This, among other things (med/surg mix, for example), was one of the “intellectual” aspects I liked about OB/GYN.
The “emotional pull” was probably the ringer in my decision. A lot of obstetric or gynecologic issues are anxiety provoking or slightly embarrassing (not to us, but something you might not want to share with your friends). I liked being that person you could tell these issues to and I like assuaging women’s fears. On the reproductive endocrinology and infertility side, I’m fascinated by both womens’ desires for careers and “breaking the glass ceiling,” but also for having children. The ability to preserve fertility, to optimize fertility at “advanced maternal age,” or to help people with certain medical conditions get pregnant seems extremely rewarding to me.
Patient population? Mostly healthy. All women.
Work culture? I like to think OB/GYN is a fairly happy field. Outcomes do have the potential to be very, very sad, but, for the most part, you’re either a) bringing their bundle of joy into the world or b) helping them maintain or achieve a certain quality of life by promoting their health (or at least part of it…I won’t be adjusting anyone’s cholesterol medications or anything).
Life balance? My motto – if it is important to you, you will find the time to do it. I ultimately decided that if the most exciting part of my job was that it was 9-5, then it probably wasn’t the job for me. In addition, plenty of OB/GYNs have families, even in residency. It might be hard, but it seems most people are able to “make it work,” whether it be kids, travel, marathon running, etc.
I could write much more on why I chose OB/GYN, but I’ll stop here. Hopefully, this gives a little “outline” or my decision making process.
Someone also asked if I ever considered medicine wasn’t for me at any step in the process. At points in medical school, when you’re slaving away in the library and your friends are actually earning dolla dolla bills, I did have a few “gah, I wish I did something that paid me now” moments. I had “omg, my friends are like real people” jealousy, but I’ve never looked at any other careers and thought “man, I wish I was doing that instead of this.” Medicine is a long road, but I knew that going into it. No one put a gun to my head and told me I had to go into medicine. This is what I wanted to do.
TELL ME: WHAT IS YOUR DREAM CAREER?
It may not be something that is currently in the workforce, I realize. In the current milieu of social media as marketing (I act like I know about business and marketing..I don’t), I’m always some impressed with the ingenuity of people — merging careers with a public social media presence seamlessly (for instance, see Marisa Kraxberger, VP of creative at Oscar de la Renta and behind the blog George and Ruby; also see Oiselle).