Why I Chose Medicine: discover how to choose a career path that you'd love.

I've often wondered why I picked the discipline, Medicine. Memory fails me. Perhaps, there's none to hold unto. My best shot at recalling and one I've always told is of me at a younger age and my brother, Charles.

I was either four or five at the time... Again, memory fails me. But I remember we've already had the discussion of what we wanted to be when we grew up. This would be the most anticipated discussion every parent would have with their child. It's mysterious. You look at your two-year old, you are filled with awe of what he might choose to be. Add that parents have silent wishes of what they might like their child to be. Some are modest enough to suggest - stealthy pass ideas to them. It's in the conversations they have with these children at a younger age, the toys they buy them, places they take them to and TV stations they let them watch. This is for parents who have understood and while they are willing to let their children be whatever they choose to be, they are silently praying that the universe smile down on them in magnanimity. The miracle of when a doctor's child chooses to be a doctor without coercion, for example. For some other parents without this understanding, it's a battle of wills. The parent usually wins up until a time the child revolts. This may happen at an early or later age, for the obstinate ones their revolt is just at about the outset.

My father wasn't one to force you in a given direction, but he had dreams. He had dreams of me becoming a lawyer, and my brother a doctor. I was fine with that. My brother couldn't care less. So the story that I remember and have always told is this one of a certain day. My father had someone come in to do some repairs. While the man worked at what he came to do, my brother and I settled around him and we made small talk. He asked what I'd like to be in future and I excitedly declared, with the inexplicable enthusiasm only a five-year old could muster, "My father said I'll be a lawyer and my brother a doctor." I was startled by his next question: "Why do you want to be a lawyer?" I couldn't understand why he was asking that. The answer seemed too obvious to me. "Because daddy says so," I replied.

When I was a child I thought parents decided what their children were going to be.
Then he does what adults are talented at doing, poke holes in children's imaginative bubbles. The one that lets them believe any and everything is possible. Which is true until we let our "realistic" minds get in the way. Actually, we teach children mediocrity and limitation.
Well, that wasn't exactly what this adult did to me. He takes a different route and sells to me fear and dissuasion. He tells me how lawyers are liars. How lawyers are so bad that when they die, they are lain facedown; They've told so much lies they can't bear to face God (the heavens) even as they sleep in death. That was frightful for my young mind. Whether he was just telling tales or he was speaking the truth, who knows? That small talk is the reason I chose medicine over law -but not the reason I chose medicine. I was so scared. In fact, I cried. I would beg my brother to exchange professions with me. "Please be the lawyer let me be the doctor. We'll just tell daddy we agreed," I would plead. My brother couldn't make sense of it. Like I said, he cared less. Whether I chose to be a lawyer or doctor, he was disinterested in both. He was yet to choose what he wanted to be. I was left with breaking the news to my dad, telling him I wanted to be the doctor and hopefully getting his approval. Like I said, my father wasn't the type to force you. He OK-ed my decision to be a doctor, even though he had his own aspiration. My father tells us one of his biggest aspirations was to be a lawyer. As a bachelor he read and watched a lot of law books and movies. It was only natural he would wish to birth that "failed" dream through me, his first child.

Over the years I've questioned why I wanted to be a doctor. Aside this tale that memory generously supplies me, there's no other tangible reason to hold unto. Like having parents who are doctors and admiring them so much as to want to be like them. Neither of my parents are doctors. Or having a close relative/family friend who was a doctor you admired so much you wanted to be like. My mother's eldest brother is a cardiovascular surgeon, but he wasn't significantly present in my childhood. I never met him as a child, in fact when I knew what he was doing I already had preconceived intentions of being a doctor. Or having so many hospitals visits as a young child and meeting and admiring doctors so much I wanted to be like them. Or any noble tendencies like being affable and caring. I just wanted to be a doctor. I didn't even know what it entailed. And the most staggering part of this ambition was that it was sole and unitary. I never wanted to be anything else. So when I'm asked why I wanted to be a doctor I'm at a loss.

I'm in my final year in medical school and I'm still asking myself why I chose to be a doctor. I've come to love doctors and appreciate their selfless service to humanity and thankful for the six, no seven, years I've spent in medical school. 

It's been a road to self discovery and actualization. I know I may not have successfully unraveled the reason I picked the discipline medicine, but the beauty of medicine is this:
Medicine is a broad discipline. There's room for everyone, whether or not you chose medicine yourself or your parents chose it for you, you'll find a niche that suits your individuality precisely - from all the specialities and subspecialities in medicine and surgery (if clinical medicine is your take) - to public health, and even medical law! I heard that one in year four during introduction to clinical medicine posting. And I must say, that really ticked my fancy. I love the profession Medicine and I can find a branch of medicine where I can practice being rest assured that I'm in the centre of God's will for my life.
Yours truly,
Anita Ejiofor. ©

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  1. Frank talk..."We teach children limitation and mediocrity". I hope to live a life that will challenge my think beyond their limits.

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