(1)Hi Md-A! I am wondering, how do you know when sacrifices are worth it? I used to think - work hard, play hard - every sacrifice could be rewarded if you made a point to reward yourself. But right now I have given up a lot to pursue medicine and I am only half-way through medical school. I like the profession but wish I could have salvaged some things, you know? The worst part about these sacrifices is that they are often really important to your support and well-being as a human (friendships
(2) relationships, etc.) I fear that more and more will be sacrificed as I continue, no matter how hard I try to hold on.Which is probably true, but in the grand scheme of things, when we could all die at any moment, what reminds you/makes you think that it was all worth it? I think we could all say “helping others/saving lives” is what makes it, but is that worth the expense of giving up major aspects of your own life? I’m asking to hopefully regain some perspective.
Hey there, anon!
You ask two questions to which we all wish had clear answers.
Q1: When do you know sacrifices are worth it?
That’s the thing with sacrifices. Just because we sacrifice does not guarantee our success or reward, or mean we deserve them.
One of the most humbling things about life and medicine is that, so much of life is out of our control no matter how much we try to control it. That is why we must empathize with each other. Reflect continuously and seek constantly, and be brave when things don’t pan out and be humble and raise up others when they do.
A sacrifice for a particular goal is only worth it, I suppose, if that particular goal is achieved. Everyone’s goal is different, anon, so I would encourage you to think on the question: what was my goal or goals in the past, and is that goal/goals the same? That may help you decide if you’re still sacrificing for the things that give your work and life value and will help you decide how you want to balance things in your life, or re-balance them.
Q2: What reminds me or makes me think that the sacrifices I have made are worth it?
-when I see that lightbulb turn on/that flash of understanding flicker across the eyes of my med students and interns when I teach them something they didn’t understand before
-when my patients share their stories, health or otherwise, with me because I am a part of their life (whether they like it or not)
-when there is an announcement on an airplane looking for medical personnel and I’m tired and I want to rest but I get up, grab my stethoscope, and do my fucking job feeling glad that I can be of use
-when my friends and family, in some of their darkest hours and most vulnerable moments, come to me and I can give them even a little relief or reassurance with knowledge or information
-when I think of the friends I’ve made along the way through med school, medblr, residency who have understood me, taught me, lifted me up, made me a better and more well-rounded person
-when I’m mad or upset about healthcare injustices, physician suicide. Because that tells me I still give a shit and I’m not cynical yet
-when I cry if I hear a patient of mine has passed away, even if I am no longer the physician managing their care. Because despite what the current medical, social, and economic climate would like, I still feel and I still care
-because I spent too much of my childhood and young adult life scared, angry, and sad. And now I can be the person my younger self needed.
-sometimes I don’t think my sacrifices are worth it and that’s normal
–that I’ve stopped using the word “sacrifice” to explain or justify the decisions I make. I’ve been replacing “sacrifice” with the word “decision” recently. Because sacrifice suggests you are giving up something you love far more than what you must do. And medicine isn’t something you have to do. We have a choice to be in medicine. We choose, over and over, we decide, over and over, to be in this profession. To work hard. No one is forcing me to work this hard, to give up weekends, to study. I made decision after decision to put myself where I am today. I have good days and bad days like any person. But this is my life, I am beholden to no one unless I choose to be. I don’t sacrifice anything. I make a choice and I own up to the consequences, whatever they may be, good or bad, expected or unexpected because that’s life.