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A lot of parents want their kids to grow up and become doctors, lawyers, or engineers.
I certainly felt a lot of pressure to follow my father’s footsteps and become a physician myself.
I never pushed my daughter onto the medical career path, but it seems like she is currently set on becoming a doctor herself.
It is one thing, however, to say you want to become a doctor, but to actually go through with it is a totally different thing altogether.
The following is a guest post from one such individual, Gayle Morris (her 2nd contribution to this site), who had a change of heart and did a last minute course alteration and is now much happier because of it.
From the time I was a young child I had an interest in the human body and how it worked.
My father owned a restaurant and every afternoon during summer break my sister and I would walk the mile to the diner and help wash up the lunch dishes.
I loved those summer afternoons.
When we got there my dad had our lunch waiting for us.
My favorite was his fish sandwiches and there was always a big plate of French fries set between us.
Things were great until one day I developed these large welts all over my body and face.
We lived in a small town, so everything was convenient, including the doctor’s office just across the street from the restaurant.
Hives. Allergies. Better not eat anymore of the fish sandwiches!
I asked so many questions the doctor finally had to ask me to leave so he could see his next patient!
And the journey began.
Fast forward more years than I care to own and I’m a mother to four beautiful children, one of whom is married.
My fascination with health, wellness and how the body worked has never waned.
It started with humans and quickly moved on to animals.
I first wanted to be a veterinarian.
My mom wanted me to be a doctor.
Either way I was headed for college and years of studying.
I think that was the part of becoming a doctor or vet that I loved the most – studying and learning.
We didn’t have anyone in the family who had gone into medicine, or even a family friend.
But there I was, a freshman in a demanding small university with a reputation for a high percentage of successful entries into medical school.
Of course, the reason they were successful was because the program was tough.
Coming from a small town in Mid-America I had dealt with bullying through high school, something 20% of kids today experience.
I also had to suffer through sexual harassment from teachers before it was acknowledged teachers were even capable of such a thing.
I still was sure I could make it through whatever college threw at me.
But, at some point in my second year, I began to realize exactly how many years of school and residency were ahead of me … and I wasn’t sure it was a path I wanted to take.
I could finish in three more years and go on to medical school if it was still a burning desire.
At least that’s what I told my mother, because at that point I realized that it wasn’t a burning desire.
I no longer had the passion to get through medical school and residency.
Time, energy, money and putting off “having a life” stacked the odds against my desire to help people.
For years I questioned if I made the right decision to become a nurse.
I even dated a doctor for about a year who encouraged me to explore it again.
And it seemed that I might, but the relationship fizzled and I realized I was considering it for all the wrong reasons.
Growing older I realized I likely would have continued the journey to become a physician if I’d known that “life” was lived each day, and not in some future dream.
And, while nursing was satisfying, I wanted desperately to get away from nights, weekends and holidays.
Becoming a clinical specialist or nurse practitioner became my next goal – both of which I accomplished.
Within five years I had said goodbye to my last night shift and embarked on a new journey that took me between patient care and outreach.
For a time, I worked hand-in-hand with the marketing department for our children’s hospital, arranging for our specialists to connect with physicians throughout the state.
I also held a part time job at the local pediatric rehabilitation hospital as a nurse practitioner.
Of all the variety of jobs I held, doing outreach was the most fun and gave me the most satisfaction.
It was then I realized that although I may have started my journey by loving patient care I had grown into enjoying something else.
Without a doubt I’d be further ahead financially if I’d stayed the course and become a physician.
But I also am not sure that I’d be as happy as I am today.
I’m also sure my definition of happiness or contentment has changed over the years, as I believe it does for everyone.
A man close to my heart once described what I had trouble putting into words – when you can be happy in a grass hut in the middle of nowhere, then you know you are satisfied with life.
I believe I would tell my children, friends or other relatives who wanted to become doctors the same thing.
You need to be happy and fully satisfied with what you choose, because if you can’t be satisfied in a grass hut in the middle of nowhere with your decisions, you’ll find the doubt and discontent far outweigh the financial benefits and only raise your risk for destructive burnout.
Gayle Morris is a freelance writer that’s been writing on health and wellness for over ten years. She spent over 20 years as a certified nurse and nurse practitioner before hanging up her stethoscope and picking up the pen.
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