During research yesterday I stayed an extra hour past my shift and after everyone else left the lab and it was only me watching Aaron finishing up day 1 of FISH, Aaron asked me what my plans I had after graduation. I said I wanted to go to med school, and he just sort of smiled to himself. So I asked him if he ever considered medicine before.
He said yes. When he was little he wanted to be a scientist. But around 8th grade his dad sat him down and told him that the life of a researcher is hard, and that all the hard work that goes into it really doesn’t pay off (literally, meaning paycheck-wise) and that he should probably consider being a doctor instead. His dad is a doctor. His mom is a nurse. His grandpa on his mom’s side is also a doctor. So he listened to his dad’s advice and was premed from then on up until the summer after 3rd year of college.
Back up a few years. The summer after his 1st year at UCI he started doing undergrad research in this lab. And he loved it. Much more than the clinical volunteer work he did for the premed requirement. And in the end, he realized that medicine really wasn’t for him, that research was really what he wanted to do, that he doesn’t need a doctor’s salary to live a good life, to be happy - after all, he’ll be doing what he’s passionate about. His work will be something he actually enjoys, rather than merely a source of income. He will live the life he wants to live. In June he’s off to grad school somewhere off in the East Coast and then I will probably never see him again.
His advice to me? Something along the lines of… don’t limit yourself. If I find that I really like research, that I like being in the lab and discovering new things, maybe I should consider grad school instead. And now I’m really considering it, or at least, what he said kind of loosened my grip on needing to go to med school. I feel a little more open to other options. I don’t say alternatives, because “alternatives” sounds as if I couldn’t get into med school and I’m reluctantly settling for whatever there is to settle for. But I mean other options I’ve never really closely considered before because I’ve been so committed to becoming a doctor ever since forever. Before I only saw one clear path in my future, the path towards DOCTOR, with maybe a few faint trails coming off it (PA/nursing/pharmacy/etc), but now I can see that they’re not just little trails that trickle away to nowhere - they’re forks in the road I’ve ignored, that I’ve never really took the time to look into because the title of MD has always looked so prestigious, so honorable, a goal that I strive for to prove to myself and the rest of the world that I have worth.
But do I really want it? Is it really for me? Is that what I really want to dedicate the rest of my life to? I’m starting to have my doubts. I really like research, definitely more so than I expected I would. And now I find myself coming towards a forked road dividing between my original plans of med school and a newfound interest in research…
Ugh. With the way I’m doing academically this quarter though I won’t be able to do either. Getting into med school is hard. Getting into grad school is hard. If my GPA takes another dip (which it probably will) I can kiss these dreams goodbye.