In high school, I remember my schoolmates and I dreaming to become doctors. About a handful of us specifically dreamed to become double doctors, aka MD PhDs. Combining clinical practice and research, that was our shiny dream in the stars.
During my first research internship at Stockholm university when I was 16, I mentioned our dream to my supervisor. She then asserted me that doctors are primarily meant to be clinicians. The doctor interviewers at Karolinska (the most difficult medical school to get into in Sweden) were tired of hearing applicants say they want to do research she told me. They want doctors who want to be doctors. But what if one wants to be both?
Maybe this MD PhD dream was just a naive, juvenile dream that will disappear over time.
Medical school applications started coming up, keeping in mind the primary focus of doctors, I didn’t mention my shiny dream. I started medical school with the same mindset, keeping away from the lab. Two years into medical school, somehow something made me explore my research curiosity. I was back in the world of academia, and haven’t left ever since.
I started with a summer research internship within genetics in Karolinska, which then continued to a genetics publication in St Andrews. The following summer it was working with drosophila and cancer therapy in France. When I started my clinical years, it became clinical trials within brain cancer therapy. At The same time during all those years, I started presenting at student and national conferences in the UK, then proceeded to international ones. Last March, I was presenting at a conference once a week. I guess you could say I was hooked.
However, throughout my years of medical school in the UK, although they encouraged my research interest, they couldn’t do more than give me projects to do on the side to satisfy my curiosity – without pay of course. Apart from the lack of financial compensation, I felt that something was missing. I wanted more. This, among many others, contributed to my decision to move back home to Sweden.
I made the bold move of moving back to Sweden to finish my medical studies, hoping to get more and bigger research opportunities. I was accepted and warmly welcomed to Linköping, and continued where I left off from the UK. A month in (last week), I decided to look at the research groups available and sent an e-mail to the one I found most interesting. I received a reply within a day, met the Professor a few days later, the research group a week later, and now, I have taken my first few steps towards my MD PhD.
You know that feeling despite things going well, it still doesn’t feel right? Like as if you’re meant for something else? That’s how I felt anyway, and luckily, my gut feeling was right.
One month into Linköping, somehow I’ve taken a step closer to realising my shiny dream in the stars. I don’t know how it happened, but I do believe in fate, destiny, God’s plan – or whatever you want to call it. Turns out, this MD PhD dream wasn’t just a phase after all.
Watch out, in a few years, you can call me Dr. Dr. Sam! 😀