Four years into my neurosurgery residency, I started to get a little frustrated. I was dealing with the brain day in and day out, which is what I had asked for, true, but something was missing. I didn’t have enough time or energy to really sink my teeth into the mind. A fascination with the mind is what got me interested in going down this road in the first place, but I was too busy sliding catheters through the cortex, drilling off bone flaps, and picking at tumors to think much about this ethereal by-product of the organ I had otherwise gotten to know so well.
It’s impossible to find the perfect career that satisfies every professional need at all times. Plus, your goals can change over time. What you once considered to be a great match may later turn out to be lacking. In some cases minor career tweaks can realign expectations and reality. In other cases a greater shift is required (although I wouldn’t recommend a major shift during residency!). It’s fair game to ask yourself, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” at any age.
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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