Asking, “Are there any medical careers that could satisfy both of us?” begs for mediocrity
I’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor. But my parents don’t think that going to medical school is a good idea for a frum girl, especially before I’m married. We have an excellent relationship, and I don’t want to disobey or disappoint them, but I just can’t see myself doing anything else. Are there any medical careers that could satisfy both of us?
I take issue with your question. Asking, “Are there any medical careers that could satisfy both of us?” begs for mediocrity.
I suspect that you’re not asking me to suggest becoming a nurse, sonographer, or an EMT. I also have a hunch that you know there isn’t a magical career that combines all the interesting parts of being a doctor without necessitating medical school. At this point, any other career that you choose will inevitably feel like a terrible knockoff of your dream.
Another problem here is that you haven’t yet owned this decision. You’re trying to fulfill your dreams and satisfy your parents, and you feel torn. It’s time to take the (admittedly scary) path toward adulthood, and make this decision for yourself. Unless you can take full responsibility for a decision, you’ll always have someone else to blame. Assuming you don’t want to be a resentful 59-year-old, you need to make this decision all for yourself now.
A good way to do this is by choosing a rav for yourself. Your parents’ rav is a great option — but again, make sure that following this particular rav is a choice you’ve made. Having a conversation on your own with a mentor you respect can help you navigate this decision .
Let’s assume you have that conversation, agree with your parents, and decide not to attend medical school. Now your question becomes something like: “I’ve always been interested in becoming a doctor, but for hashkafic reasons have made the decision not to. Is there a career that will allow me to use my talents in an area that gets me just as excited?”
Sounds almost exactly the same — but here you’ve taken ownership of your decision, and you are open to other options.
I’ve noticed a funny thing. When we carry a dream for a long time, we often get so caught up in the tangential details of the image we’ve painted in our minds that they become more important to us than the dream itself. But instead of allowing your dream to dictate a choice that may not align with your values, you can use the image in your mind to draw insight on what specifically is pulling you. When you picture yourself working as a doctor, where does your mind take you? A fast-paced emergency room? A dynamic children’s clinic? A prestigious specialist’s office? Understanding what is attracting you to a specific environment can give you clarity on the larger picture.
Take it further. What else excited you about being a doctor? Some common reasons people choose the field include wanting to be able to help others; the satisfaction of diagnosing or problem-solving complex issues; having a strong interest in and aptitude for science; wanting the position of trusted advisor; or wanting the prestige and reputation it affords.
Maybe it’s some of that, maybe it’s something else. The point is to figure out exactly what is important to you, and separate that from the entire career as a whole. Once you’ve identified what you like about it, you can start your career search bearing this in mind. At that point, taking an aptitude assessment that can give you an objective view of your skills can be both validating and liberating as you discover all the career options you’d be suited for.
Your job is to create a new vision for putting your talents to work. The best way to do that is by speaking to real people in real jobs, and seeing if you can visualize yourself in those roles. Remember: You were blessed with your interests and abilities for a reason, and it’s your ongoing role to discover how you can use them to serve that purpose.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 925)
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