How difficult it must be to walk away from a life in medicine. To acknowledge the sacrifices endured, work put in, and time spent—and still have the courage and honesty to say, “This is not what I want.” How disconcerting it must be to honor the years ahead rather than the years past. And how remarkable it is for one to perceive these demanding experiences as something filled with learning and meaning, but not something which one should be attached to forever.
But just like any career or lifestyle change, people do it. And what are the messages they receive for that choice?
“They’re weak. They couldn’t take it. They’re not smart enough. They’re not tough enough. They don’t have what it takes. Good riddance.”
I vehemently reject those sentiments. Medicine is an imperfect world with endless room for improvement. It tends to select for personality traits that might not be those most expansive or—paradoxically— healthy. It might nudge out the people whose interests are multifaceted, because this training tends to pull energy away from those other interests. The “loser” in this situation is the healthcare system, NOT the one who walks away. Why? Because people with those other interests would be highly beneficial to the world of medicine itself. It would be in our best interest to embolden the leaders, the ones with political savvy, the creatives, and the generally multitalented.
So to all of those who listened to their heart and took the courage to walk away from the high-pressure, imperfect world of medicine: I love you. We miss you. And I regret the fact that medicine couldn’t keep you.
[This post inspired by an amazing human I know who is making the choice to leave medicine.]