Being my family trade, becoming a doctor had always been expected of me. I had never allowed myself to consider other options. Because of this, I had always focused on how I was going to become a doctor, instead of why I wanted to become a doctor. And it was going well. Or so I thought.
Four years into medical school, everything was going as I had planned and better. But suddenly, I saw my life racing away from me. My life was getting closer and closer to the goal, but I was only at the starting line. I thought I was almost there, when really, I had never started. I had no fuel to start, with nowhere to find it. Because I had never known what it was in the first place.
Why do I want to become a doctor? Is it for me or for my family? Is it actually what I want to do? I had to find the answers to these questions, and I knew I couldn’t find them whilst I was in the hospital. I believe that sometimes you need to lose your way to find it. So I took a break.
On my break, I was fortunate to work as a gymnasium (high school) teacher for students studying to become healthcare assistants. I was able to use my experiences from medical school for my students’ learning and development. All the theory, and more importantly, all the stories I have from encounters with my patients. One day, a student came up to me after class. He said:
“I wish we could have you as our permanent teacher. When you talk, we can relate to the things you say and it makes it easier for us to listen.”
I was touched to say the least. I guess like what people say, if you speak with passion, people will care. People will listen. So it turns out, I was and am passionate about what I do. But it was only then when I finally realised what it was.
As a doctor, yes, I get to utilise my interests in science and yes I get to make a difference in people’s lives – but that’s not my passion. What I love the most about what I do, is that I get to be a part of people’s lives. As a doctor, I am given the gift of being entrusted into people’s lives. A part of their family and everything else about them, even their thoughts, fears and dreams. For me, I don’t only get to treat the patient, but I also get to meet the person.
See, sometimes you do have to lose your way to find it. And I found it when being a teacher.
Everyone who I see when wearing my white coat, are all more than a patient. Being able to be a part of it all is the beauty of my profession, and is what makes me passionate about what I do. I want to share this with all of you, so on occasional Sundays (because #storysundays), I want to share you stories from my patients. Stories not focused on their disease, but what makes them more than a patient. Stories on what makes my patients people.