It was 6 PM and I had been at the hospital for twelve straight hours. It was dark when I arrived and when I left. I was doing my clinical rotation in obstetrics and gynecology as a third-year medical student. I never left the labor and delivery area, not even to get a meal. As I staggered to my car, I realized that I was bordering on clinical depression. I was initially astounded by the beauty and excitement of helping to deliver a new life into this world but after eight straight weeks and every third night on call, my enthusiasm was gone. I lost interest in patient care and the sleep deprivation changed my behavior. I was short-tempered and lashed out at friends and family members for insignificant issues. I argued incessantly with my colleagues and even began to hate medicine. I wanted out but saw no exit. As irrational as it seemed, I was about to throw away all my years of preparation to get into medical school because I could not cope with this one rotation.
What a difference the next month made when I began my clinical elective in psychiatry. I now had relatively normal hours and began each day in a hospital nestled at the base of a beautiful mountain range. Every morning as I drove to the hospital, I was greeted by a sunrise, illuminating an idyllic scene of green forests and waterfalls. It was exactly what I needed to recharge and reconnect with God and myself. In this tranquil setting I was able to quiet my mind and listen to God. Within a few days, God redirected my life and priorities. I needed to be in a residency and career with regular hours but there was a problem. By that point, I had already submitted my applications for residency. I wanted to be a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, a specialist in childhood cancers. My applications were already sent to about a dozen pediatric residency programs in the country. My dreams were being shattered. What could I do?
Once again, I retreated to the solitude of prayer with God and He answered with a creative solution. He showed me a new pathway, one that I had not even considered, and did not even know existed when I began medical school. I would become a pediatric pathologist. I always enjoyed surgical pathology and this career would give me the best of both worlds. I immediately withdrew my pediatric applications and reapplied to pathology. Although I later changed my sub-specialization to dermatopathology, my career path in pathology was set.
Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.
Job 6:24 (ESV)
…Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalms 46:10 (ESV)
My medical specialty as a pathologist is the antithesis of psychiatry but ironically, it was a clinical rotation in psychiatry that brought me to my present career. Psychiatry is derived from the Greek and literally means healing of the soul and mind. A psychiatric consult from God, the Great Physician, re-routed my career goals! Once again, He healed my broken and confused soul and realigned my priorities with His direction. All I needed to do was be silent and listen to Him.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.