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We all go into medicine because we want to help people. In the
midst of my residency interviews, I was able to delve deeper and
reflect on this chosen career path and really understand why and
how I have chosen internal medicine. I want to provide this as a
guide to students who have not yet decided on a specialty.
1. Keep an open mind.
The best advice I received was to treat every rotation as if it
were the specialty you were going to do. Only when you see yourself
in that role will you truly be able to determine if it is right for
you. I was devastated because I heard you should do the rotation
you are considering as your career path somewhere in the middle,
but I had pediatrics as my first rotation and internal medicine at
the end. Feeling defeated before I even started my third year, I
heeded the advice and put my energy into fulfilling the role of a
future pediatrician. As the year went on, I started to see that
although I enjoyed all of the patient encounters and procedures, I
did not feel like myself with the gloves of a gynecologist, or the
struggles of a psychiatrist.
2. Listen to yourself.
As I sat in the emergency room at 2 a.m. on a slow weekday, I asked
my attending if he could see me as an emergency room doctor. I
pleaded that I was quick on my feet, good with procedures, and a
good communicator. His answer stuck with me, "Listen to yourself."
He told me that I would be a great doctor whatever field I choose,
but I would have to do what feels right to me and not react to
external pressures. Armed with this advice etched into my brain, I
continued the second half of my third year trying to explore what I
truly liked and did not like about each branch of medicine. Once I
started listening honestly to myself, I began to understand what I
did and did not like. I like procedures but not the operating room;
I like clinic but not dealing with children and their parents at
the same time.
3. You deserve it.
After completing my internal medicine and surgery rotations, I
discovered that I preferred internal medicine. On my internal
medicine rotations I had world-class attendings and inspiring
residents who served as mentors in the field and showed me how to
become a master clinician. In the early months of my 4th year was
participating in an elective rotation at an outside hospital, and I
had the opportunity to work with a gastroenterologist, who gave me
excellent advice about my medical training. I felt comfortable
talking with him about my career plans, and asked him about where I
should apply for residency and how I should navigate the seas of
ERAS. He told me that I deserve to be picky. He reminded me how
many years I had been in school, how many hours I had spent
reading, in the anatomy lab, discussing cases. His advice to me was
that I deserve the best and should not settle for anything less,
and that happiness is not underrated. Going to the best program in
the world is only worth it if it gives you the happiness you
At the end of it all, I went into medicine because I like
helping people. Along the way I have discovered aspects of medicine
that I value the most, including educating my patients, serving as
their advocate, and providing them the tools to be successful in
caring for their own health. Internal medicine allows me to
continue to study all of these branches of medicine, while
providing me another opportunity to experience different
Some people may tell you, go into internal medicine—you can
delay your decisions about what to be when you grow up. Although
this may be true for some, as I stand at the helm of entering this
field one thing is for sure: once you decide to become an internist
you are dedicating your life to becoming a clinician. Your heart
and soul belong to unearthing diagnoses and treating patients with
humility. Whatever comes after is just icing on the cake.
Rosalind Franklin University School of Medicine Class of 2014
February 2014 Issue of IMpact
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