At our white coat ceremony, the speaker warned us of the sacrifices we would have to make to become doctors. I was so happy to be there, I wondered what he was talking about? My whole life I wanted to be a doctor, and now I finally was going to be. It would have been more of a sacrifice not to get in than to do the work to get out. I looked down at my clean white coat, embroidered with "Anne Kennard, Student Doctor" and thought, whatever it takes, its worth it.
What does medical school really cost? Four years, eight if you count residency, but you knew that going in. $45,000 a year, plus living expenses? Somewhere along the way you realize that it costs more than that three hundred thousand dollars accruing at 6.8%. What it really takes is the focus of your life. You have kids, but hey, you've got to study. You work a long day, and come home to answer practice questions at night. It's hard on your self-esteem, because nobody likes a medical student. The attending is riding you, the nurse is resentful because she has to take orders from a student that knows less than she does, you're in the office staff's way, and you are competing with the other students to look like the star. You rotate in a different place every four weeks, packing your suitcase and stethescope and leaving your spouse.
Sometimes I wonder if someone knew, if they really really knew, what it takes to become a doctor, would anyone do it? Some days it feels like no, but the answer I came to for myself was ultimately yes. It takes more sacrifice than I ever imagined, but I'd still do it because I love medicine and feel like nothing else would be quite right for me except doctoring. You're lucky if those around you support you, because it is quite possibly more of a sacrifice for them than for you. I have classmates whose wives have put their careers on hold to focus on kids while their husbands are in school. I myself have a thoughtful husband who does the dishes while I study and who packs my suitcase when I'm leaving him to go on a rotation.
Someday, it'll be worth it. I'll be a doctor, make money, and have more time at home (or so I'm told). I'll chip away at that interest, working my way down the principle. I'll start doing the dishes. Maybe someday I'll be on a medical faculty somewhere, informing another little doctor of the costs, both monetary and otherwise, and they won't know what I'm talking about. And that's probably for the best.