I followed my surgical rotation with my rotation in psychiatry. My experience was in many ways the opposite of surgery — there was more time to care for each patient, and there was more time to care for ourselves. I would show up at 7:45 in the morning, spend the day conducting lengthy interviews with my one or two patients and then rounding on these same patients later with the team, leaving by 5 p.m. It was refreshing to have time to study, time to exercise, time for sleep. But the work itself troubled me.
Many medical students made the choice to pursue their career path in their college years or even in high school, and nearly all doctors have chosen their profession by the end of their third decade. These are exhilarating years for young people. These are years where life can seem rich with freedom, opportunity, and, notably, with length. Dedicating a decade to medical training can seem like a choice that, though not easy, represents a worthy investment of one’s youth.