On paper, I’m a full-time doctor.
But what does that mean, anyway? To be a “full-time-something”?
‘Full-time’ doesn’t leave much time for anything else.
But oddly enough, millennial doctors are doing everything else: Competitive sports, music, tech, youtube, you name it.
The reason I bring this up is, I’ve felt a strange sense of guilt each time I’ve taken up another side-project alongside my ‘full-time job’.
One side-interest took up some of my free time.
Two side-interests began to zap my energy.
Multiple interests meant that medicine was, in many ways, being pushed to the back of the queue…
And I didn’t know how I felt about it.
“Whatever I’m going to be, I’m going to be the best at it”.
This was the motto I used to live by.
My mind was limited to a one-dimensional view of what my career might look like.
To be the ‘best’, I had to be great at one thing. One job. One core interest.
But now, my definition has evolved to mean the ‘best’ combination of interests that entertain, challenge and sustain me.
What followed was a lingering sense of guilt that these interests may possibly hinder my full potential as a clinician.
As doctors, shouldn’t we be spending our time and effort trying to become better practitioners?
As doctors, shouldn’t we be focused on learning and research and clinical skills, not Youtube and content generation for social media followings?
Does the public have an expectation of us that we break each time we choose to divert parts of our attention away from our clinical responsibilities?
When I applied for medical school, we were advised that hobbies and interests went a long way in convincing the interviewers that we were real people, as opposed to simply boasting academic achievements.
I wonder what those same people would say if they knew some of us intended to reduce our clinical exposure in order to start a tech company.
What would they say if our passion for filmmaking now demanded more than our ‘full-time’ clinical contracts would allow for?
Would they retract their statements?
I don’t think so.
They understood that our interests encouraged individuality.
Our interests make us unique assets to the healthcare system.
There are doctors who have created apps that help more patients than they could have dreamed to achieve as sole practitioners.
There are psychiatrists who are utilising the medium of music as a means of therapy.
There are surgeons who are bridging the gap between virtual reality and real-time operations.
To ensure the care we provide is as holistic as possible, we need lateral thinkers…
And what better than a unique blend of multi-talented practitioners that complement their clinical acumen with a diverse set of interests.
Times are changing.
It’s not just ok to be more than a doctor.