Watering my Seed/Are My Reasons Good Enough?

I’ve been listening to so many podcast episodes and it’s been making me think a lot about my “why.”

I’m 36 and have been in the healthcare realm for 12 years- first as a union rep at a big hospital system (my first exposure to health care workers), a health care policy advocate, a policy researcher in graduate school, a policy analyst at our state Medicaid agency, an educator and policy advocate for underserved community clinics in my state, and now as a psychiatric social worker in an emergency department and outpatient psychotherapist. I started working on-call as an emergency department social worker for just a few shifts a month for extra money ~5 years ago, and I ended up loving seeing patients and being in the environment. Fast forward, I’m now doing it full time and have a part time psychotherapy practice on the side.

The more I interact with psychiatrists in my current work, the more I want to be one. I just want a bigger role. I want to lead the team. I want to be the final decision maker about a patient’s care. I want to know more, and be able to intervene for patient in all ways possible- with medications and psychotherapy and continuing to advocate to change the system. I want to give people a positive experience with the health care system and keep fighting mental health stigma, with the weight of the M.D. behind it. I’ve thought about Psych NP or PA school because I’m already 36 (and I’m still thinking about it), but I fear I’ll come out still feeling unsatisfied and under-trained, hence pursuing med school and “going all the way.”

I hear so many students with stories about doctor parents or their own interactions with the health care system (and I of course have stories about my own interaction with the system), but my “why” really hasn’t taken off until the past couple of years. I studied politics and history in undergrad. I loved it. I have no regrets about that and have had an amazing career, this is just where it’s progressed. I’d like to stay in health care, but I want to be able to make the biggest impact possible, and I can’t see doing that without becoming a doctor.

It’s easy to believe a personal “why” when you’re employed and all’s well. Things hit the fan when you’re a few months in, jobless because to get really good grades you had to resign and about to get your first less than expected grade. This is where your resolve, belief in yourself and preparation come in.

Your why is just as valid as anyone elses (and is a good one at that). Dr. Ryan says don’t have a plan B - I say that works when you’re 20, but as a nontrad - you have to be prepared for the amount of required sacrifice that is coming your way.