I loved every rotation in my clinical years of medical school. Some rotations were certainly easier than others, but I found things fascinating in each field and I did not know which specialty to pick. A mentor suggested I consider emergency medicine because you do a little of everything, become a jack of all trades, and think quick on your feet. You also make good money and have time off - so I thought it was perfect. I did a rotation and I thought it was great. So then after interviewing across the country I matched into my #1 EM residency pick at UT Southwestern in Dallas! I was thrilled.
Well, it wasn’t right for me. I loved the people I worked with, and I found the day to day job interesting. But something was missing. The schedule was exhausting (days and nights) and I felt like I knew a little about everything (instead of a lot about one thing). I did a lot of soul searching and realized the main problem was I missed the patient connection. I missed the continuity, the patient experience. I constantly wondered what happened to my patients. Honestly, the first thing I did was go sit in my Program Director’s office and tell him that EM wasn’t right for me. Terrifying. That’s how that felt. Just terrible. But being upfront and honest was the best thing I could have done because he was wonderful and supportive. I committed to completing my EM year and then switching at the start of the next year, so I wouldn’t leave him and my co-residents in a bad spot. And he then became my biggest advocate. He helped me have extra electives to try and figure out what was right for me (I actually knew EM was wrong before I knew OBGYN was right), and eventually he wrote me a lovely letter of recommendation as I reapplied in the match. Being honest and transparent served me so well in the long run.
Luckily at UTSW I did an OB/GYN rotation - and I just loved it. I loved the patient relationships, the combination of medicine and surgery, and I knew it was right for me. Looking back, I think I was nervous about OB/GYN as a medical student because of the notorious “difficult” lifestyle. I always knew I wanted a family, and I field that was known as demanding made me really (really) nervous. However, after doing something that I could feel was not right, I felt more committed that I should be spending me time in a field that inspired me. It was an extremely hard decision, but 100% the right one for me. I learned that you need to be inspired to work this hard. You need to love the job, love the physiology, and love the patients.
I decided in my 2nd year of OB/GYN residency that I wanted to become a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) physician. I loved the physiology behind the endocrine system – so complex but it feedbacks so perfectly! I loved the procedures. I loved the surgeries. I loved that infertility treatment are always pushing boundaries or technology and constantly evolving. But really, I loved the patients. I was nervous about the time it would take (3 additional years) and the competitiveness of the field, but I was luck to have found great mentors at this time who supported me and encouraged me to chose my dreams.
I love that REI requires a lot of trust and is very personal. Patients are often struggling, and infertility is socially isolating. Being able to be there for my patients to educate them, to help them through this difficult time, and to understand what they are going through – these bonds mean the most. Helping my patients grow their families, to hold their babies after the struggle, these moments make it worthwhile to leave my own babies in the care of others and to come to work each day.
And that is what I really learned through this journey. That the goal in medicine is to find something that you are really passionate about. Because leaving your own family at home, sacrificing the time that it will take to achieve this dream, it will never be worth it if you don’t pick something that really inspires you and that you love. Who cares how long it will take to achieve this goal? The real goal is to learn to love and enjoy your life along the journey, the time it will take you to get there is well worth the destination.