The thing that has most drawn me to become a physician is the classic art of diagnosis. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved to solve problems. Puzzles, board games, Sudoku – these are all things that I have enjoyed in my lifetime. I was even in an organization called the “Future Problem Solvers of America” or “FPS” for short. We met after school and worked in small groups, while enjoying snacks brought by some member of the group. We were given a problem that occurs a century or so in the future and had to come up with a solution. It was usually something having to do with the environment or a global catastrophe. My group (in no small part because of my mad skills) even made it to “State” one year. There was also an option to write a short story where you present a problem and then fix it. I, being the avid writer that I am, wrote a story. I got 1st place in the whole state. Now, I’m not writing this blog post to get some sort of attention that I feel I missed out on in the 4th grade, but as I remember back, my story was about a disease. I invented a group of people who lived at the bottom of the ocean in a futuristic habitat. One day, everyone starts developing these black dots all over. They eventually figure out that they are caused by some type of underwater plant. The solution came from the plant itself. There were smaller red dots inside the black dots that eventually provided the antidote. (Okay, so it wasn’t on track for a Pulitzer, but I was only a fourth grader!) It was a cute story. I had to read it in front of like a thousand people at the State competition. I was pretty nervous to have all eyes on me, but when I stepped behind the podium, I literally disappeared. Only the top of my head could be seen. Needless to say, my fears about public speaking have never abated.
Problem-solving (aka diagnosing) is really the number one reason that I wanted to become a doctor. Of course I want to help people, and do something that is meaningful, etc., etc., but really, I want to do something that I enjoy doing and that I am good at (aka problem solving!). More and more people are beginning to ask me what kind of doctor I plan on being. (A good one…heh heh) For years and years I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I do love kids, and I am fascinated with cancer, but I’m not sure if I want to work in such a depressing setting, although I know the emotional rewards would be tremendous. More recently, I have wanted to have a family practice, or at least work in primary care. There is a great need for more primary care doctors in our society, and a general practitioner has to know a lot about a lot of things. But, in the past few days, I have really been drawn to internal medicine. Like many of you, up until recently, I had no idea what “internal medicine” was. “Internal medicine” basically means “adult medicine.” From what I can tell, internal medicine seems to offer the greatest challenge as far as diagnosing goes. I read an article that says internists need to be good at “problem solving” and enjoy “reading.” I even took a Myers Brigg test that told me I’d be a good “internist.”
I guess I see myself being a modern-day “Sherlock Holmes.” If you didn’t know, the stories of Sherlock Holmes were written by a physician, and the character of Sherlock Holmes was based on a doctor who Sir Arthur Conan Doyle knew who was reputed to be a wonderful diagnostician who could pick up on small details to make his case. Anyways, that’s what I think about these days. I know there’s a lot of experiences in the next four years that might change my mind. It’s hard to say what specialty I’ll enjoy until I actually get to do a rotation in it. But, it’s got me really excited! I’d like to end with a quote from Sherlock Holmes himself:
“My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. […] I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession,—or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
Who knew that Future Problem Solving would have such a long lasting impact. Do you still have the story? I have a picture!
Sadly, I do not. I hope a copy will turn up someday.