A Big, Painful, Good Decision

There’s something that I’m finding myself saying more and more often these days that is very painful for me to say:

I’ve decided not to apply to medical school. I’ve decided not to apply for nursing school. I’ve decided not to pursue any advanced degrees in medicine.

(but I always whisper “For now…who knows what the future holds?”)

You see, I really, really like medicine. I like the science that is medicine and the art and politics that is health care. I like when people have the most current and accurate information that can help them make informed decisions. I like leading teams. Working in a field that has a direct impact on people’s health, safety and empowerment would be a dream for me. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a little girl. I’ve wanted to be a doctor all through high school, and in college I majored in a field that would prepare me to apply for medical school, joined Pre-Med Club and studied for the MCAT. I’ve wanted to be a doctor when I took time after graduation to work and gather experience, and while I tried to figure out how to get all of my ducks in a row so that I could go to medical school.

Last year I decided that medical school was too much. Too much money. Too much strain on my relationship. Too much strain on my support network. Too much competition. Too much sacrifice.

I toyed with the idea of pursuing a nursing degree. I looked at it from a lot of angles, worked through some bullshit preconceptions that I hadn’t even realized that I had been harboring about nursing vs. doctoring. I spoke with friends who were in clinical practices. I found programs, plotted finances. But in the end I decided the sacrifice was more than I wanted to make. And more importantly I accepted that I don’t want to be a nurse; I want to be a doctor.

So I have chosen to stay in my current profession. It’s a good profession and I am in a good work environment. I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled into my field, and I am proud of myself for working hard and making choices that have brought me here.

But accepting that I’m (probably) not ever going to be a doctor has been painful, and still is. Letting go of this dream has been an act of grieving that I only recognized in the past year or so. I have denied and bargained and cried and spent sleepless nights trying to convince myself that I could do it, berating myself for not doing it, and arguing with myself about whether I should do it.

But as a friend reminded me recently, it was a decision that I was able to make. Not going back to school is a luxury that I have because I have a college degree, a steady job, and experience that I can fall back on should I need to start somewhere new. One of the biggest reasons for not going back to school is that life is very good and comfortable. I enjoy my work and feel that it can have a positive impact on the world. I get plenty of time with my partner. I can travel, blog, read books, binge-watch Netflix and ripe about the newest Sims updates. I can participate in and support communities and groups that share my ideals.

I have it good.

After nearly two years of grieving it’s finally getting easier to acknowledge that not going to medical school is a good thing for me. I would say that it’s time to figure out what my life looks without going back to school, but I already know; I’ve been looking around and seeing it for years now. Happily, I think I like what I see.

A Big, Painful, Good Decision
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One thought on “A Big, Painful, Good Decision

  1. 1

    I was going to suggest going into Research, maybe getting a PhD and then clicked on your profile and saw that you are already doing R&D 🙂
    As a scientist myself, I can say that doing research can be really rewarding in spite of the workplace politics, etc. Good Luck to you, you sound like an intelligent and thoughtful woman and I am sure you will be amazing at whatever you choose to do.

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