They say two ain’t always better than one…
…but in this case, I’m hoping it is. I’m knowing it is. At least for me.
I’m sitting in bed, on the fourth of July, feeling rather introspective. And I didn’t know when my next blog post was coming, so I’m deciding to take advantage of this free time and racing mind of mine. I just finished watching the 10th episode of the 4th season of Orange Is the New Black, and boy it was…a lot. Without getting too far of course, I’ll tell you one thing I love about this show—OITNB does a really good job at incorporating individuals’ personal stories into the plot of the show. Every few episodes or so, you learn something new (or rather something old) about a character; a snippet of their past that contributes to their current situation. You get a little taste of who they were before they ended up in prison, either as an inmate or a guard. And suddenly, you feel a teeny weeny bit of sympathy for even the cruellest, most cold-hearted, gut-wrenching characters because you learn that someday way back when, they were also mistreated, misused, misunderstood.
So fast forward to the question of the night (I promise I’ll try to make some connections later on; this isn’t as random as it seems right now): Why did I choose to pursue two degrees during medical school, instead of just one? Honestly, in the beginning I first thought, “welp, I’ll be more competitive for residency if I have another degree under my belt & the program is just as long as the traditional MD program, so why not?” But it quickly got deeper than that.
My next thought when I got accepted into the program was—ISRAEL WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! YOU’RE GONNA DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. *takes a woosah*
I was forced to think of what this dual degree would mean in my future career. I didn’t really have a concrete picture of what I plan to do as a physician. Not entirely sure on where I want to work, what kind of schedule I’d want, what type of practice I’d prefer…I’m slowly starting to put some pieces together but I knew I wanted to do medical school AND I knew that I eventually want to do more than treat illnesses. I want to treat PEOPLE. I prayed and prayed and prayed and took a leap of faith on accepting the offer, and as I’m still learning what it means to be a public health physician, I’m certain that I’ve made the right choice for me.
I’ve began to get a serious grasp on what that looks like and what it means. So far, it means that I will be a medical professional who does more than recognize symptoms and diagnose conditions. It means that I will look beyond what is presented to me. I will look for causes that are hidden behind my patients’ stories. What does their community look like? How is their family life affecting their experience with disease? What barriers are preventing my patients from accessing healthcare? Are there cultural implications for their conditions and how can I consider these alongside their medical treatment plans? The questions go on and on and on. And if I do this whole school thing right, my list of questions will continue to grow.
In my short life, I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of life stories (& now, hopefully the intro is making at least a little sense). One of the most fascinating things to me is how one thread can wind around another and the next thing you know, you have this beautiful quilt of interwoven experiences. Meeting one person at one particular moment in your life can have a tremendous impact; one that you may never even notice until years later. Our life is more than what we are in this given moment. It is a collection of histories—our own and those of others. These paths that we have travelled shape the reality of our todays: our finances, our mental well-being, our physical health, and so on. And with this life view, I can happily say that I have found an avenue that works for me. My public health training will give me a new set of glasses through which I will study medicine (if that makes any sense).
Sidenote: My seemingly random introduction wasn’t meant to compare patients to inmates…no no no. I was just trying to give you an idea as to why I was I inspired to write this right after watching the show. Life stories…connections…pasts explaining futures…if anything is unclear, feel free to shoot me a message 🙂
I know that this is only the beginning, and I have SO much left to learn. I’m still a liddle baby. I’ve yet to learn the language; I don’t yet know how to maneuver my surroundings; and I’m quite impressionable (in the most positive way possible). But this MD/MPH program has given me a deeper sense of purpose (phew, that was kinda heavy). I’m just as lost as the next kid. Humbled. Eager. Willing. Vulnerable. Strong. Focused….
Peace & love (& medicine & public health & life stories),
“The I.T. Factor”