These Personality Traits I Learned in Medical School Helped Me When I Stopped Operating

Remaining calm under pressure is an invaluable skill

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Before I started medical school I even had fleeting thoughts about the fate of my own happy-go-lucky innocence. Did I really want to expose myself to suffering, trauma, and death as a routine part of my job? I’ve always been known as a generally upbeat and happy person. What would several years of surgical training do to me? Would I be the same person and, if not, would that be for the better or worse?

Luckily I don’t think my personality changed in any fundamental way, but I did hone my skills at engaging in black humor (a valuable if sometimes borderline inappropriate coping strategy) and in remaining cool in tense situations. These personality traits can come in handy in life outside of medicine, and I have my surgical training to thank for them.

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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