I think I’ve finally decided where I fit into the medical world, my “medical home” if you will (primary care pun intended). After extensive deliberation, I believe that family medicine is the specialty that suits me best. Yes, I know that just a couple months ago I was carefully crafting a schedule that prepared me to apply for general surgery. But once I committed to that schedule and career choice in a fairly serious way, and I started saying it out loud to people, it just wasn’t feeling right. I had the nagging feeling that I was signing my life away to a specialty that didn’t align with my life goals. Surgery is still fascinating to me, but I think I’ve found a better fit.
I reflected on my experiences in third year (which is now more than three quarters over!) and thought about when I felt the happiest. Although I enjoyed elements of all my rotations, I found that I was the most eager to go to work in the morning during the family medicine clerkship. I once attended a great lecture about career planning that included comments from family physician, Dr. Patricia Barrier. She said students should consider “the four P’s” when choosing a specialty. People, patients, periodicals, and pajamas. By this, she meant: what colleagues do you want to work with, what patients do you want to see, which periodicals could you read for the rest of your life, and what gets you out of your pajamas in the morning. All of them are relevant, of course, but “pajamas” was the one that stuck out to me, since I remember very clearly that I didn’t have to drag myself out of bed on my family medicine rotation. Every day featured something new, and I never knew what would show up on the schedule. I felt at home in the clinic and when the rotation ended I was sad to see it go.
It’s exciting to think that once I revise my schedule, my fourth year will be filled with family medicine experiences. Rather than feeling like the world is closing in around me, like I did when I was committing to surgery, it feels like the world is opening up. I have so many elective choices, away rotations, and residency programs to consider! I’ll have to think about the region I want to train in, the flavor of family medicine I might want to pursue, and ultimately what I want to do with my life! These are big questions, but I feel prepared to answer them and I feel like I have a great support system in my family, friends, and mentors.
Hopefully this is a career choice that sticks. I’ve spent many years feeling indecisive about various steps along my career path, but for the first time, I think I’ve made my choice based on an honest appraisal of my preferences and aspirations, which is a step in the right direction.