Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other, to the detriment of neither.” -Anton Chekhov (Russian physician-writer)
I’ve always kept a journal. Growing up in an age where TV and screens were not ubiquitous like they are now, I spent a lot of childhood scribbling, writing and reading. When I entered medical school I decided to continue my writing hobby, but I thought I would have to drop it eventually because I was becoming busier and busier. I found though, that the busier I got the more writing helped me centre myself and make sense of all the things I was experiencing as a medical student. So I continued to write.
When I was younger I used to think that one day I would have some amazing place on the beach, or a shack in the mountains, where I would look out the window and inspiration would pour through, helping me write. The sad reality is that the place I write most often is in my car when I’m waiting for the kids to finish some sport or the other. Or I write in my bedroom, propping myself on some pillows.
What I have figured out is that there is never a perfect time or place to write. If you are going to get work done, you have to be opportunistic.
In becoming a doctor, you are entering a profession that is full of high-achieving, competitive and ambitious people. That’s not a bad thing. If you look at all the bold progress that has been made in medicine, it has been made by people who have been willing to take a chance and be daring and perhaps arrogant to believe in their dreams.
I think it’s important to produce competent doctors, but it’s also incredibly important to produce good human beings. One of the things that I really want to emphasise to all the trainees I come in contact with is that it’s possible to be a good, compassionate, empathetic doctor as well as a smart and proficient doctor. Those things are not mutually exclusive.
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