Stuck in One Lane
It’s no secret that our course is demanding. We’re at least second best at telling others outside the field how difficult our lives are as medical students, second only to the dentists of course. The same required demand will be continued throughout our medical career, but I don't think it should ever impede us from achieving success in other fields. It takes a lot of qualities to become a successful doctor, that you’d think the kind of person that can go through medical school can pretty much be whatever they wanted right? And yet, for some reason, we instinctively build tunnels around ourselves as students or doctors and settle for a career path limited to a single railway track.
With the amount of time and money spent to earn our medical degrees, we will deservedly attach our newly appointed title as a Doctor to our identity but maybe that’s not all we can be. The job does not necessarily have to define you. With my dad being a Doctor, it's nice for him that I followed in his footsteps. But I can't shake the feeling that perhaps I’m locked in his trails...maybe forever. I’m often pondering how my chapter is different in any way to his. In fact, I’ll be achieving the same thing he did, but slower and with fewer obstacles. I’ve far too often side-lined my hobbies during my time in medical school, and I’m afraid that over time, marginalising them further could result in disillusionment in my career and leave myself vulnerable to burnout. It’s already starting to dilute my creativity – so much so that I’ve decided that it’s time for a change in attitude.
So, what do we do? What else is possible? First of all, write down all your goals – everything you want to achieve in your professional career. Just imagining what you want to become and the kind of life you want to lead can be incredibly motivating. There’s an enormous list of wider medical careers to consider. Perhaps you’re not satisfied with the change you’ll be enacting as a Doctor and would rather want to help turn agendas into laws – working with government officials or working in Hospital Management. This is just one example of many included in the NHS’ page on ‘Alternative roles for Doctors.’ They also include medical education and research. A lot of us might already have experience teaching, at least unprofessionally and so many doctors decide to teach in their local universities. Another venue is a business. There seems to be a large overlap of transferrable skills between Doctors and Entrepreneurs – a few examples include leadership, innovative personalities, and problem-solving. In the UK, multiple private organisations and even the NHS help future entrepreneurs in their ‘Clinical Entrepreneur training programme.’
If they can do it…
Take for example Dr Charlie Chan – a breast cancer surgeon by day and a rock-star photographer by night. His dual-career professional life isn’t out of financial necessity but out of pure interest. And he’s certainly not alone. For a non-medical example, it’s hard not to mention actor, director, rapper, comedian Donald Glover – his ‘jobs’ are branches of his passion for storytelling. It’s hard not to be inspired by these people, and harder not to be motivated to achieve more – and not just in our medical career but also outside it.