Future Decisions

Now that husband’s job situation is sorted out, I have recently been thinking about my own future.

The major questions that I’m considering are:
1. Should I go back into medicine or not?
2.  If I do go back into medicine, which field?

This impending decision has loomed over me all year, always at the back of my mind.  Because the time to start gathering all of the material required to re-enter the residency match is approaching, I know that I need to make a decision soon, like within the next few weeks.

My thought process on answering question 1 is that I’ve already invested an enormous amount of time, energy, and money into getting my MD, so the logical next step would be to continue in medicine but in a different field.  The problem is that my whole being is completely rebellious to the idea of starting over again.

Why?  Well, my former classmates will be done with their fellowships and out in practice by the time I finish even a 3 year residency.  Plus, residency isn’t exactly a walk in the park, even with the work hours rules and even at a supportive program like the one I used to be a part of.  Now that I know what’s coming – long hours, exhaustion and stress, lots of paperwork and red tape, overwhelming busyness, constant anxiety about whether or not I’m making the right decisions – I’m finding it difficult to choose this path again willingly.  That is, assuming that there’s a program that will even take me.  A non-surgical residency will probably be less physically demanding but I am sure that every field has its own frustrations and challenges.  And with the increasing dissatisfaction of physicians across the board, life beyond residency doesn’t appear to be all that appealing.  See also this article – the comments are particularly depressing.

Some people would say that this opportunity to get out of medicine is actually a gift.  I also happen to have a wonderful husband who is incredibly supportive and who genuinely wants me to pursue something that will make me happy.  In fact, he is constantly suggesting alternate career paths for me: art therapy, public health, counseling, caterer, event planner, etc.

But if I’m honest with myself, I’m afraid to leave medicine.  If I jump ship and start over in a new career, it’s just…completely unknown (scary), plus I will have wasted the last 12 years of my life* and thrown away $250K that would still need to be paid back.  But I’m also fearful of the alternative, that I will end up miserable, bitter, and a stranger to my (future) kids if I continue in the medical field.

I wish I could write a neat conclusion here and just be done with the whole thing.  But man, making these decisions is hard.   And I haven’t even gotten to question 2 yet!  So as I continue to sort through these thoughts, the only things I can do are: spend time with my heavenly Father who is so good and faithful, and look to Him to clear away this haze of fear and help me to follow where He is leading me.  That’s all.

*edit to the above: I wrote this in a pretty negative state of mind, but I would actually never consider any of this time a waste in terms of the amazing people that I’ve met during those times, skills and knowledge learned, and life lessons experienced.