“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
When God blessed me with the opportunity to enter medical school, I entered with tunnel vision on becoming either a plastic surgeon or neurosurgeon (my childhood dream after deciding that Little House on the Prairie life probably wouldn’t cut it). I mean what little child reading Ben Carson’s story doesn’t want to be a surgeon? For years I wrote essays for school about the complexity of the brain because nothing else excited me. I didn’t want to be open! This is what I had planned to do for God, and this is what I would do. I planned on being that woman who came into medical school with a plan, and left accomplishing that same plan. I wanted to be set and have no surprises.
But then there was that little voice. You know the one that tells you to keep your options open although you already have a plan? While on the short clinical rotations experiences during first and second year, treacherous thoughts came into my head. Why was I beginning to find the beauty in other fields of medicine? How could this be possible? This was NOT supposed to happen to me:
I was not supposed to melt over the children in the pediatric wing, want to cry over the stories of the kids in the psych ward, or feel helpless beside the old woman with 5 fatal diagnoses. I wasn’t supposed to have fun while playing “video games” on robotic surgery at the OB/GYN interest meeting. I wasn’t supposed to laugh with the internal medicine doctor and an old war veteran at the V.A. hospital, or watch with interest in the neurology clinic as a mother with occipital neuralgia received injections. I was not supposed to feel excited as the physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors talked about their plans to make a fake downtown city to help their PT patients acclimate back into society.
I was not supposed to enjoy talking with the old couple at the ophthalmology clinic about how sight isn’t really appreciated until it’s gone, nor was I supposed to be fascinated as I stared into the eye of a man who had received cataract surgery. I really was not supposed to be interested as I watched a doctor calm the fears of a teenager braving a long needle into her eyelid to treat a chalazion.
My eyes had been opened. There was no turning back. Could I still become a plastic surgeon or neurosurgeon? Sure! But as painful as it was to come to the conclusion, I was beginning to realize that going down a slightly different path than originally planned does not always alter the outcome. It does not always change the dream. My dream was ultimately to become a Christian doctor that not only enjoyed what she did, but could also put the passion of her enjoyment into the caring of her patients.
On the bright side, I am just about to finish my first week of third year. This means that I have a little time to settle in my mind which field is for me. It is always good to have a plan, and it is even better to be able to stick with that plan. However, sometimes it is the unexpected twists and turns in life that make it fun (at least when we look back on it), that help us to grow, and that help us to become the people we always wanted to be. In the end with an open mind and willingness to make mistakes, what was always meant for us will be ours.