Tuesday, July 27, 2004

MEDICAL SCHOOL ESSAY DRAFT POST #1: This way, I can't procrastinate by writing on the blog. I kill the two birds with the one stone. A good plan. Simple. Logical. Efficient. I like it.

I should start at the beginning, for as my record should make plain, I never intended to be a physician. Leaving high school, I was consciously against it. I liked to write; therefore writing was what I would major in. Practical concerns were not seriously addressed. And why should they be? I thought I could just pound things out on my own, the way writers do as they become professionals.

It was harder than I thought.

In the meantime I worked in the office building of my local hospital. I always thought it was temporary--I was a writer, remember, or soon to be one--and in the beginning I never thought of myself as being of my coworkers in that office. As the months became years, though, it became harder to convince myself I was going to sit down and crank out a masterpiece like all the authors of all the masterpieces I have read and loved had. It became easy to think, this is your life, an office drone, wiling away the time at a keyboard, making copies, longing to run an errand across the street so I could at least get some fresh air. I felt trapped by my circumstances, as I'm sure most of us do at one point or another.

Even as I felt this way, I knew there were alternatives. I worked in a hospital; medical students and residents passed through all the time. They were about my age; they didn't seem hugely different from me. Talking to them, I was not aware of their intellects towering over my own. If they can do it, I thought, there was no reason I couldn't, if I wanted to. Medicine began to seem like a tangible goal to me, at least in theory. In practice, though, for questions like, Would I like practicing medicine? Or not? --I had no answers.

Let me be candid at this point: I was raised by a doctor, my father. I have been around medicine my entire life. I cannot put a precise figure on the amount of times I was asked in my younger years, "So, you going to be a doctor like your father?" but I can assure you it was quite a few and my answer was always No. This was a reflexive answer, given out of annoyance at the presumption of the questioner than anything else. But even as I said No, I never really thought No, or even Yes. I just wanted the question over and done with; I never really considered, would I like medicine? Until I did.

Working at the hospital, I thought it was something I could like. Going back to school (three years after the first undergraduate graduation) and taking science classes for the first time since high school, it seemed like I had some aptitude for the basic prerequisites of medicine. Medicine seemed like something I could do. I loved the sheer range of career options medicine opened up: the combined degrees (interesting in theory, though no doubt tortuous to attain), the subspecialties (psychiatry is inherently interesting to me, though I'm not sure I'd enjoy it in practice; infectious disease as a speciality sounds fascinating; I love the idea of being a general practitioner, jack of all trades on the frontline of medicine; and so on.) There seems to be so much opportunity there, if you're willing to work for it.

I guess it is fair to say that I have grown into the idea of being a physician. It didn't always suit me, but I have thought about it; batted it about; and come to the conclusion that medicine is what I want to do with my life. The years that have past have made me more comfortable with this decision, and I consider my relative old age an asset, not a deficit. I haven't just worked hard, and gotten good grades; I bring I set of unique expereicnes to the table too, ones that I feel would make me a better physician, if only because they make me a wiser person.

Blah blah blah blah. Like I can mention the School of Hard Knocks in a med school essay. I dunno. It sags in places. Maria, if you happen by, let me know what you think. I'll try and rewrite it tomorrow.

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