I wanted to be a doctor since the age of two. It was my God-ordained purpose in life and I fulfilled it; but about seven years in I was looking for a way out.
In the beginning, the chaos and turmoil was exciting. Once I realized I wasn’t saving lives every day like I thought I would be, I became frustrated with my career of being a board certified emergency physician. What baffled me was that I went into medicine thinking I would be respected and people would gladly accept the advice I offered. The actuality was that many people came into the emergency room for a myriad of problems along with their unofficial medical degree from WebMD just in case they needed it. They not only knew their diagnosis, but also how to treat it — or so they thought.
When you went to school for a million years wanting to be able to make everyone better, it becomes a conundrum when you are debating your patients because they think they are smarter than you and don’t want your recommendations.
With all my daily frustration and let downs, I considered quitting medicine, but I had absolutely no idea what I would do otherwise. Neither did I want to give up on what I spent my entire life working towards. Because of that, I felt trapped.
One day while in the Emergency Department, I was working with a scribe who happened to be an African-American female like myself. I asked her what she wanted to do with her life and she told me she was thinking about going to Physician Assistant school. I then challenged her with the question, “Why not be a doctor?” since she hadn’t even considered it before. I started getting to know this young lady. Over time I learned that she had failed the 9th grade because she just didn’t go to school. She told me she would get up, get dressed and sit on her porch, then watch her school bus drive past, as if she wasn’t supposed to be on it. At some point, she decided she needed to do better, so she caught up in school and graduated on time, but had a low GPA as a result of her earlier mistakes. She was in community college when she began working as a scribe and even then, she wasn’t working to her full potential in school.
Due to me working in multiple emergency departments, I saw the young lady infrequently. A period of months went by before we were to work together again. When we were finally reunited she told me she had toured the undergraduate institution I went to, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, otherwise known as A&T. She was impressed and therefore decided to apply. She got accepted and transferred there the next fall.
At that point, I began to mentor her throughout her time in college. She graduated from A&T with honors and received full scholarships to two medical schools. As of today, she has finished her first year of medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Although I was questioning the direction my own career was taking, I helped guide someone into my profession and suddenly my path became clear. After ten years in the ED, I got out with my sanity intact, and I’m now working in Urgent Care. I have a renewed sense of self, and I have the time and energy to do things that matter to me.
The purpose of this article is two-fold. The first thing I realized is that sometimes you are where you are because someone else needs you to be there. While I was feeling sorry for myself because emergency medicine was not fulfilling me like I thought it would, a young lady came along and changed my perspective.
The second thing I learned is that while my destiny was to become a physician, it is not my passion. I discovered my passion is in mentoring. I am always trying to uplift African American females and once I noticed that some of them actually listen to what I say, it became clear that I would be able to redirect my need to help people from medicine to real life.
For anyone that finds yourself drowning in your own self-pity, take a step back to reinvent yourself. Figure out what you want in life and make some new goals. Understand that it may take some time and don’t rush to get out of your trying situation. If I had gotten out of emergency medicine when I initially wanted to, I would have never met the scribe that helped me figure out what I’m passionate about.
Tests and trials are usually meant to prepare you for more in the future and often there are things you need to learn before you are ready for your next level. So don’t give up and don’t give in!
Hopefully, my next level will include not only mentoring, but writing as well. Here’s to the next chapter in my life!