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I really had no clear idea of what field of medicine I was interested in when I started medical school, but I felt a strong connection with OB/GYN during my third year rotation. The diversity of the specialty, the richness of the personal relationships, the technical demands of the surgical procedures, and the connections I felt with physicians already in the field all made it an easy decision for me.
It was a hard choice because I really enjoyed all aspects of general practice but ultimately I decided I wanted to focus on gynecologic surgery and the complex issues involved with prolapse repairs, incontinence, fistulae and other surgical complications. I love the patient population and it is hugely satisfying to know that you are having a major impact on people’s quality of life.
BWH/MGH was hard to beat in terms of reputation. I knew I’d get outstanding training, a diversity of experience, and the opportunity to learn from and train with the best, including thought leaders in our field. Of course it’s hard to beat Boston as a place to live and work too.
It goes without saying I had the opportunity to learn from teachers with great technical skills and knowledge, but the most important thing I got from my training was exposure to role models. I had so many great physicians to emulate, not just from a practice stand point, but in all aspects of my career. I saw what it meant to constantly be learning, to provide care with empathy, to think critically and perform clinical research, and to be professional. So much of the way I practice medicine today is a direct result of watching the people who trained me.
I felt pretty strongly about staying in academics in order to continue practicing clinically while still being anchored to a teaching institution and being a researcher. I never imagined having a chance to build a Division from scratch at a major academic center, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities I’ve had. Running a Division and a fellowship program were goals but maybe not expectations. Years into my career, I still feel fully invested in what I’m doing.
My first night intern year I had to cover the 1500 pager because one of the 2nd years was stuck outside the country and of course a ruptured ectopic arrived in the ED. I was in way over my head but my chief shepherded me through it without missing a beat (thank you Kathy Economy). It was obvious to me at that point that I had a lot to learn but also that I was in the right place to do so.
My classmates. Residency is such a unique, high stress experience that it really galvanizes relationships. I feel incredibly fortunate to continue to have solid relationships and regular clinical interactions with colleagues in Oncology, REI, MFM and general OB/GYN in my current job, but it’s never the same as the shared experiences you have with your co-residents. I see classmates from time to time but wish it happened more often.
Perhaps just to trust your instincts about what will make you happy in your career. There are so many options for the practice of medicine in terms of clinical focus, size, location, patient population and job responsibilities that you have to pursue something that you think will bring you satisfaction. It’s too easy to get burned out if you don’t enjoy what you do.
I feel like I make a difference in people’s lives. Everything else pales in comparison when someone tells you that you have improved their quality of life.