I went a entire month without posting…wow. I won’t sport with your intelligence by offering an apology or a promise to post more frequently. Life has been lifeing recently, and when I’ve crawled into bed at the end of a long day, my thoughts have raced but my hands haven’t moved. In any instance, I would like to thank one of the usual suspects (Avery) for reaching out and reminding me that I had some writing to attend to…and Eva for insisting I write this post even when it would have been more comfortable not to…ahem, where to begin…
For those of you who perhaps haven’t read some of my earlier posts or the discussions that happen in the comments, what Eva has asked that I attend to is what would appear to be incessant flip-flopping as it relates to my decision to either attend or not to attend medical school. Unlike my mentors and closest friend in real life, who spends lots of time in conversation with me about my career and their own, you all only encounter me after I have made a decision. For that reason, instead of the prolonged and constant teetering my friends see, you all have only witnessed the moments of resolve that happen when another aspect of life has made the need to make a decision feel more acute.
In reflecting on my journey toward medical school, I recognize that my teetering has been principally caused by two things. First, is my ability to robustly defend any position. At the risk of exposing myself further, I will share that in college I was a policy debater. Policy debate is an evidentiary-based form of switch-side debate where teams advocate for and against the same position in alternating debate rounds. While the activity encourages the development of research skills, perspective-taking, and empathy, it also teaches you how to build a strong argument for any position you take. You can learn to do this so well that it can actually sometimes make it harder to make decisions…I’ve always understood the tension between my interest in medicine, my passion for helping others, and their associated “costs” in the pursuit of a medical degree. Over time, my interest and passion haven’t teetered. If anything, federal, state, and local governments in the United States, particularly in the Southeast, have continued to pass laws that challenge access to healthcare for some of the U.S.’s most vulnerable populations, emphasizing the need for physicians who are interested and willing to serve in underserved areas. I am interested in becoming a physician not because I believe that my service would create some form of systemic change but because being of service to others, particularly when people are at their most vulnerable, as we are in medical settings, has always been significant to me…for me. What has changed, what teeters, is how acutely I am aware of the “cost” associated with this journey. Once you understand the costs (to the extent that one can prior to experience), it is not possible to pretend they don’t exist. And it would be naive to think that aspects of your subconscious and conscious mind wouldn’t seek to avoid them, especially on days when life seems good.
And now, having written enough to be warmed up, and hoping that some folks will have drifted off, I can finally get to the thing that is harder to discuss…shame (and pride). If you are still reading, you shouldn’t be surprised. I have spoken about this feeling at various points when talking about my financial journey, and one should not be surprised that it touches other aspects of my life; for me, in many ways, it feels like a global sensation. While I don’t have enough courage or space to explain it all here, I will say that shame is why I have continued to pursue a medical degree as opposed to another healthcare occupation like physician assistant or nursing. That the constant questioning of my knowledge and right to exist in decision-making spaces as an African American woman, a persistent historical experience of mine in academia, has made me incredibly reluctant to follow a path that, although shorter and less “costly,” would result in me having less institutionalized authority than my peers or colleagues. And that this institutional imbalance of power is not something I am interested in managing given what feel like permanent imbalances in social valuation and power.
I don’t know that this post answers everything and I am happy to elaborate more where I can… I’m currently scheduled to retake the MCAT exam in July.
6 thoughts on “Unpacking…”
Welcome back to blogworld! I will preface this by saying I’m sleep deprived, and this is a completely serious topic but my first thought was what is your MBTI?
It’s interesting that you commented that my situation reminded me of your friend because for a while I thought that your personality/thoughts really reminded me of one of mine!
I know you guys are totally different people but when I read your post, I understood it more when I relate it to some of the conversations I’ve had with her. So I’m totally curious if you guys share the same MBTI (she’s really into it, I honestly don’t know much lol 😅).
That note aside, as much as we try to weigh the pros and cons or rationalize our decisions, sometimes we just have to do what feels “right” to us and if medical school is what feels right to you, I’m cheering you on!
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Ha! I sent you an email.
Welcome back! I hope you didn’t find me rude or insensitive because of my questions, it just came as such a surprise. I don’t want to rain on your parade but it is very probable that, even if you become a physician, you will be perceived as less qualified/with less authority than your colleagues/peers. Good luck to you!
Hello Eva. I didn’t find your question rude or insensitive…if I did, I would have ignored it. 🙂 I thought the question made sense and was likely a question others had so, I answered it.
“I don’t want to rain on your parade but it is very probable that, even if you become a physician, you will be perceived as less qualified/with less authority than your colleagues/peers.” – …I know.
Just as you can defend any position, I can get on board with any plans you make, because only you know what’s best for you. So I’m absolutely on board with you going to medical school! Your explanation makes me understand why you would rather be a doctor vs. PA or NP, and I think it makes a ton of sense. And I can get back to my Gray’s Anatomy dreams for your future – ha!
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A family reunion has meant that I will be north for the summer. I will send you an email.