Insight Into a Surgeon's Life and Aspirations

I have aspirations. Really ambitious aspirations.

I want to have a career in the medicine field. Why do I want to become a doctor? It isn't because doctors have a 'prestigious' reputation on Grey's Anatomy, or their salary figure. Rather, I look up to doctors who have changed peoples' lives. As cliche as that sounds, it really is true. The light bulb must have gone off after visiting my dermatologist a few years back in Malaysia. Over the past few years, I've dealt with a skin condition called eczema, which usually spreads around my hands. As a child in kindergarten, some kids were afraid of me, as I was taunted as "the girl will peeling hands." Funnily enough, one of my closest Malaysian friends told me that as toddlers, she used to think I had leprosy, a contagious disease mentioned in Bible stories at church. So, I visited a skin specialist, and she gave me valuable advice and prescribed effective creams. Ever since then, my eczema hasn't come to haunt me.

As a teenager, I have been afraid to answer the question "What do you want to become?" I was, and maybe still am terrified that I won't live up to my dream. I'm fearful that I'll fall short, or won't come near at all to that perfect score in my final year. What if I lack the requirements to study in the medical field? I'm afraid that I'm being too ambitious.

However, just a week ago, I had an internship at a hospital as part of work experience. Work experience is part of the Australian curriculum for students in my year. So, I was assigned under general surgery. A surgical registrar was in charge of me, and I followed interns around. During my time there, I was able to see things I'd never thought I would see. I had the privilege to scrub in to observe surgeries, seeing many breast cancer and melanoma cases. I joined some of the interns during clinics, where I interacted with patients. Most of the time, it was breast cancer cases, and I really enjoyed that. I've become more aware and knowledgeable of breast cancer, and it's really important for a girl like me to know about these things. I love the aspect of interacting with people in medicine. During clinics, I was able to talk to breast cancer survivors, and whenever they were delivered good news as a follow up, it was such a joy to see smiles on their faces, and feel a sense of relief.

I also had the honour of meeting other well-respected surgeons, and this work experience made me have even more respect for them, as well as all the other hospital staff that makes a hospital function the way it does. A typical surgeon's working day is not the normal 9-5. 6:30-7 a.m. in the morning, when the sun isn't up, some surgeons are doing ward rounds. To be able to work for more than 10 hours in one day is still something I'm still having trouble understanding. During theatre for surgery, they just kept on going through case after case, and to have the mental and physical strength to keep on going is pretty incredible. There are no words to describe how much admiration I have for them.

So yes, I am aiming high. I'm being real ambitious; I'm putting myself out there and going to have to compete against many other people. But this experience was a confirmation and reassurance that this is what I want to do. Not necessarily become specifically a surgeon, but to work in the medical field. And even so, I personally think that is important that one should have the mind-set, and aim to do something in life. Face it: we're all born to do something, and if you have the resources and opportunities, why in the world would you pass it? Keep in mind, there are other people in this world who are unfortunately limited to these resources, and would love to be in your position.

Who knows, maybe I will become a doctor, or maybe I won't. As a Christian, I truly believe in the saying :Only God knows." All I can do is strive for the best and live up to my potential. So to the future me in a couple years' time? I hope you've achieved your best.