Paradox

When I was in medical school and considering my specialty, someone said to me: “You can train anyone to be a good obgyn.  What you can’t do is train someone to be a caring, kind, and compassionate human being.  People will see that about you and above all, that will stand out.”

Last week I had coffee with one of my current preceptors.  This man interviewed me when I applied to residency.  When I was accepted into this program, he told me that I was his favourite applicant that he’s ever interviewed.  He said I had a passion for life and a light about me that made him know instantly that I would make a great obgyn.  At our little coffee date last week he said to me: “Aggie, I have noticed that you are not the same person today that you were when I interviewed you.  I am so disheartened to see that our program has stripped away the best parts of you in an attempt to make you a good surgeon.  I don’t know why we do this to our residents.”  He continued, “I just wanted to tell you to not let residency win.  This is finite and when it is over, I hope that you will go back to being that person I remember from your interview.”

Both of these people, people I’ve respected and considered mentors, have spoken such true  yet conflicting statements.  In training to become the type of physician I want to be, I have lost the aspects of myself that would make me the kind, caring, and compassionate physician I imagined becoming.  Within this paradox lies my problem.  Can I ever come back from this?  Do I turn around now and work on nurturing myself back into the person I used to be, or do I risk continuing down this path I’m on and perhaps never recovering what I’ve lost?

Is there a right answer?