Why I Chose OB/GYN…

…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).

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13 thoughts on “Why I Chose OB/GYN…

  1. My dream career is……….. helping people. I used to want to follow right in my dad’s footsteps and become a physician. But I’ve realized over the years that by personality and strengths are not necessarily suited to good bedside manner and patient interactions, but instead working behind the scenes and doing the science and engineering work to develop products that will help save lives. And I’m so excited to start “real life” this August, working at a biotech company in pharmaceutical process development. I will be (selfishly) learning a LOT.. while still applying my analytical skills to solving problems that will ultimately help more people gain access to drugs that work better, work faster, can be administered/delivered more comfortably/easily, and that are more affordable. I definitely don’t know where I will want to be in, say, 10 or 15 years from now. But I do know where I’ll be within the next few years and I am pretty sure that I am setting myself off on a good path to pursue some successful, fulfilling opportunities from there.

    • You bring up a really interesting topic — who are those who heal? The researchers? The doctors? I guess it depends on the case and there is really no reason to assign a label as to who gets the “credit.” Mostly, your comment reminded me of something a biochemistry professor told me, who does a lot of research in microbiology. His words were “we cure disease, physicians treat disease.” A lot of time, that’s true, and I think it’s nice when people realize where their talents are best served. I’m not good in the lab and don’t perceive myself to be that innovative…and those like you who are are better served in finding curative routes. My fave thing is talking with patients…guess I’m a chatterbox. Oh well. Really cool comment. Thanks!

  2. For better or worse, I do think fields with more women in them have a bit more work/life balance (ob/gyn, peds…not surgery…). Obviously a good thing for people going into that field! I don’t know how people slave away for 80 hour weeks. Attendings still round on the weekends (well, duh, someone has to), and I can’t imagine be at the end of my career and still working seven days per week, even if the weekend days only include a few hours.

    Advanced maternal age scares me because if I do the whole “if I meet someone TODAY then we date for a year, get engaged, marry a year later” thing, then I’ll be 31. Kids right away? Sooner rather than later if I want more than one….

    Okay, I just stressed myself out. One of the nurses I used to work with is now on L&D and loves it…happier times than the burn unit, that’s for sure…

    I think I want Robin’s job, I have no idea why they allow me at the bedside…

    • I bet you’re better at the bedside than you think you are 🙂 Sometimes people need straight talk!

      Don’t worry about AMA at the moment. If you want to know when to worry, ask me about my “contigency plan”

  3. I love this! I guess I always assumed most doctors were like my brother and they knew from the time they were a little kid that they wanted to be a “x” doctor. This was really cool to understand your thought process.

    My dream career? Still trying to figure that out. I once heard that if you get paid to do something, no matter how much you love it, it will always be “work”. So I hesitate to say that I would want my career to revolve around any of my personal interests…

    • Interesting point. I did think of the mix of work and outside life at one point when I thought “hmm, I like running so much, should I do sports medicine?” I think I would’ve like sports medicine or maybe even being a PT, but I like to have a few things that interest me and having one global overarching theme of my life (running as hobby and working with athletes) might make it seem my life was inundated by one thing. Or maybe it would be nice as I could be active on the job, like the Oiselle chicks (so cool to have an office that goes for runs together…my dream…office run breaks!). Anyways, very interesting point.

  4. I’m impressed with the maturity and logic of your thinking as someone twice your age who never really figured out exactly what I wanted to do 🙂 I majored in Physics, got a PhD, went into industry and eventually moved to the business side where I have been able to combine business and technology and have challenging interesting roles that change every couple of years (at a large company where I have worked for 20 years). I also wanted to ask if you had read Sarah Muthler’s Motherlode column in the NY Times a few weeks back – not to be a downer but if you are going into the Ob/Gyn field, I would encourage you to read and absorb it. I lost a son when I was 19 weeks pregnant in 2003 and really wish the well-meaning caregivers I had in the hospital during my situation had known more and been more open to talking (and forcing me to talk and make better decisions as opposed to staying stuck in denial and just wanting it all to be over). Hopefully this is something you won’t have to deal with often in your career but you could have a huge impact on your patients if you are aware of the resources, encourage them to take the time to spend with their baby, pictures, etc., all stuff I didn’t do and will always regret. Wishing you all the best in your residency – I still remember the young resident who was involved in my subsequent high risk pregnancy, he was terrific and my 9lb 13oz son who arrived safely in late 2004 is now a 6 foot tall all state high school runner getting ready to head off to college.

    Enjoy the journey!

    Best,
    Kathy

    • Hi Kathy,

      First, I am so sorry to hear of your loss with your first pregnancy. I have no doubt it was very sad and traumatic, particularly being 2nd trimester (although any loss is a loss, I’m sure first trimester doesn’t make it any easier). However, I’m glad to hear you did get a happy ending with your son!

      I have not read that column and it sounds like something that would be of great interest to me. I’ll be sure to check it out and thanks for the recommendation. That’s one of the things I like most about having a blog — it can often serve as a forum of sharing ideas, good reads, cool products, etc.

      Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to check it out.

      Meggie

  5. It’s so interesting to hear your story and how you realized what you wanted to do. I still struggle with the idea of a dream career. I am happy where I am now, have a good work life balance; but still have those other thoughts of “what-if I did XYZ”.

    thanks for taking us all along for the ride of how you got where you’re going.

    • well, thank you! You know, I just realized that not everyone may have a “dream career.” Maybe the dream involves a little career and more of family, travel, athletic pursuits, etc. But, glad you’re happy with current work-ilfe situation! I wish scheduled exercise breaks were required in all workplaces. Or scheduled siestas, like in spain…

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