So, why do you want to be a doctor?

So, this is a question that, at some point in your app, interview or assorted med quest you are going to get asked.

Why do you want to be a doctor?

Now, anyone will tell you there is a very specific way you should answer this question, so as not to come off an unfavourable way.  You want to help people.  You want to be part of a career that encourages lifelong learning.  You want to be in a career that allows you to provide financial security for yourself and your future family (don’t leave this one out – med interviews aren’t stupid, they realize that you are interested in some kind of return on investment, and leaving it out makes you seem fake).  And honestly, all of these are the “right” answer, and I have given all of these answers to med schools.  And, as an added bonus, all of these answers are true reasons I want to be a doctor.

But that isn’t exactly the whole story for me.

See, I didn’t decide in high school that I wanted to be a doctor, or university.  Nope.  I knew from the age of ten that I wanted to be a doctor.  My desire to be a doctor wasn’t a gradual decision, it was an “ah ha” moment where I, at the tender age of ten went, “oh, wait, someone will actually pay me to do this? Sign me up!”  And now, 14 years later, with less than twenty days to the start of my life as a medical student, I still feel that way.  And so, here’s the story of that “ah ha” moment.

So, in my interviews, there’s this joke I always tell when I’m asked why I want to be a doctor.

So, you ever hear the one about the ten year old who watched her sister’s birth, because apparently her parents thought that was a good idea?

Ok, so that’s not how I tell it (and it’s not really the joke) but it’s the needed set up.  When I was ten (on my birthday no less) my parents told me that I was going to have a little sister.  I was pretty psyched (and at least it finally explained why mom was getting so…wide – they told me at the five month mark because my mother’s advanced age – 45 – meant that there was a greater risk for birth defects) and I was looking forward to having a baby sister to play with.  I’m not sure what I imagined would happen with the birth – I knew how it worked, but I don’t imagine I thought I was going to be in the room.

Apparently my mom thought otherwise.

On the morning of my sister’s birth we drove to a hospital in Scarborough, which was at least two hours from where we lived.  My mom’s OB/GYN worked there though, so we packed it up and headed out.  Now, I’ve always been pretty mature for my age – an old soul is a term that has been used more than once – and so, without my knowledge, my mother had a psychologist from the hospital observe me throughout the day to see if I was mature enough to see the birth.

He or she apparently decided that I was (clearly missing the point where I had to leave the delivery hallway to laugh, because each of the women were moaning at a different tone, and it was like a delivery xylophone or something).  I suppose it was an accomplishment, as I was the youngest person they’d ever let witness a birth, although sometimes I wonder if this was just because no parents were ever crazy enough to ask.

But I digress.

So my mom asked me if I wanted to watch, and I, being a fan of the TLC show A Baby Story said sure, because I was ten and it sounded like fun.  So I waited for the hours and hours that labour takes, and as my mom was stalled around 6cm at the time of the doctor’s last check, we were all pretty chill.  But then, around 7pm my mother started asking for drugs, because she was in a lot of pain, and a nurse came in and checked her, and then turned sheet white and told my mom she wasn’t allowed any drugs.  My mom, really wanting those drugs asked why, and the nurse replied, in between shouting for another nurse, that the baby was coming right that moment and that my mom shouldn’t push because there was no one to catch the baby.  The other nurse ran in, told me and my dad if we wanted to see we’d better get down to the end of the bed that moment, and so we did just that, and nature took it’s course, so fast that the doctor, two floors up having dinner didn’t even have time to make it there.

It was an exciting few minutes, needless to say.

But what I remember from those few moments (other than babies are born covered in purple goop) was that “ah ha.” I watched that birth, and those nurses, and thought, yes, that’s what I want to do.  And, although my mom’s OB/GYN tried to talk me out of it (I’d be so busy I’d never see my future family) that feeling never went away, and so here I am, still trying to make that ten year old girls dream a reality.

See what I mean about everyone having a “unique” story?  So, now, as you’re all busy writing your sketches and essays, remember that unique thing, and let it shine in your application.  “Average” is just a state of mind!

Besides, I might not even like my future family! 😉

Oh, by the way, the joke I tell is that “I’m not sure why my parents let me watch that birth.  I think it might have been as a form of early birth control, to protect against teen pregnancy. And if it was, it certainly worked!”

It always makes the interviewers laugh, especially the ones at MUN.

Maybe it was a sign 🙂

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