What You Should Know About How Your Career Might Change Over Time

Ask yourself these questions

Photo Credit: gnidkin/Shutterstock
Photo Credit: gnidkin/Shutterstock

Would I really want to do this for the rest of my life, the same tragedies, the same procedures, over and over again? What about being tied to a pager? I can tolerate the three a.m. call to trauma now, but would I continue to tolerate getting out of bed for a drunk driver at age fifty? What about the need to plan my life around a call schedule? How would things change if and when we added kids to the mix? And perhaps worst of all—how bitter would I become with my first lawsuit? My trusted friends out in practice warned: ‘You will be sued, no matter how good, careful, or thoughtful you are.’ Nice, I thought, something to look forward to.

Being a surgeon is a mental and physical game. Both elements can change with age and experience. Tolerance levels can waver. Likewise, expectations can change. What you hope to get out of a career, and what gives you the greatest satisfaction, may evolve. For example, I wrote this book largely for fun as an offshoot of my neurosurgery career. What I didn’t expect was the degree of professional satisfaction it would give me: from students who said the book inspired them to take a neuroscience course for the first time, or to consider neurosurgery as a career, or from neurosurgery patients and their family members who told me the book gave them a greater understanding of what they went through. Receiving feedback from readers was more gratifying than I had imagined, leading me to realize that my first book would not be my last.

Excerpted from Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Firlik, MD with permission from the author.

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