The question, “Why do you want to become a surgeon?” does not have a simple answer. The thought has rattled around my mind from my earliest memories. Adults ask young children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was always uncertain until this year. Our imaginations are encouraged as we grow and explore all that education has to offer, and my answer has shifted across the years. As I discovered a passion for graphic design, video editing, animation, academia and a deep understanding of mathematics, I now view these skills in their application to surgery. Everything has now been framed by the light of surgery.
Both of my parents are doctors, my mother a surgeon too. Their careers have undoubtedly fuelled my passion for medicine, but I wanted more than to follow in the footsteps of great parents. I have always felt a strong desire to help people – a cliché driving force that I am sure you, the reader, agree with. The ability for a surgeon to provide near-immediate quality of life improvement to patients, in my mind, lends itself in its separation from other professions. Any shred of doubt was eased when I undertook my junior rotation of 12 weeks. It confirmed what I was leaning towards but indeed needed a push in the right direction – I want to be a surgeon.
Surgery is a complicated field of study resting at the intersection of hands-on technical skills, academic research, and compassion. I am undeniably drawn to these traits. Becoming a surgeon is not an easy process. Long hours, years of study, and rigorous competition are all formidable barriers to becoming a surgeon, but they will not deter my newfound determination. Truthfully, after assisting in each of the multitude cases of different surgical specialties, thoughts racing through my mind echoed, “I think I want to be a surgeon,” daily. The late nights and long hours in the company of other surgeons allowed me to see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I felt like I belonged; it clicked. Like all the jigsaw pieces fit into place. I earnestly feel like surgery is in my DNA – whether that feeling is genetic or more transcendental is beyond my discernment.
The advice I would give to students considering a career in medicine, and specifically surgery, is that they will know if surgery is right for them. There will be a lightbulb moment where all the tumblers fall into place and everything makes sense. Medicine can be appealing to many people because of the high pay and prestige, but those things alone will not propel someone through medical school. Although I have tried, I do not know if the desire to become a surgeon can be broken down into composite parts. Though I cannot explain why – I know and feel that I do want to be a surgeon.
How did you discover your love for surgery? Did you always know? Let us know in the comments below!