before you become a doctor

posted on: Friday, December 21, 2012

before you decide to become a doctor....

consider the fact that you'll probably be working Thanksgiving
and Christmas
and New Years
and your birthday

you might even find yourself alone, in a strange town,
60 miles away from your husband, the week before Christmas

remember the very people you are trying to save
will call you sweetie...nurse...f***ing bitch
and spit in your face
and vomit on your scrubs
and bleed on your shoes

remember that you'll consider two days off in a row to be an enormous luxury
you'll have a little money, yes.
but no free time to spend it.

remember that your friends will all have their babies together
without you.
and you'll be a step behind the ones you love best

remember that you'll sleep at weird times
and get annoyed when your family calls you when you're sleeping
even though even your own husband can't remember your schedule
because it changes all the time

remember how you'll miss your family during holidays
and sometimes hate yourself for feeling envious of your patients
whose families are there with them

remember that the hurt and sorrow that your patients experience
will affect you deeply.
and you will hurt with them.
cry when you tell them they've miscarried.
mourn when you tell them they have cancer
feel the shock when you tell them they're paralyzed
imagine an iota of the grief they must feel when you tell them their child has died.

remember that when the rest of the world wonders how a man can shoot first-graders
you will be wondering how the first responders handled what they saw
and asking yourself how you would cope with your ER being flooded with tiny bodies
wondering how those doctors even made it through the rest of their shift

before you decide to become a doctor
remember these things.
think hard on it.
be sure.

because it's hard. it's really really hard. and you have to be sure.
or you won't make it.



  1. It takes a lot to be a doctor, and a very strong person to take on that responsibility! i truly respect all those who go through all this and still mange to smile at the end of the day.
    You are very special people.


  2. Beautiful post. You are any amazing doctor. I ready often first time commenting. Keep on keeping on. all my best to you.

  3. You gave me chills! And you're absolutely right, it takes a lot to be a doctor and to give up so much! You are amazing at what you do!

  4. Doctors are some of the most amazing people that our world has. I have so much respect for what you do, it really takes a special person to fill those shoes.

  5. Amen. Russ always says that if he knew how hard it would be that he isn't sure if he would do it all again. His passion for what he's doing keeps him going.

    In a very selfish way I want to use this and repost saying "before you marry a doctor..." and change it so it's the significant other's view.

  6. You are a rockstar! Hang in there, Em!

  7. I've been a lurker for awhile but this post made me come out of hiding and say something. You are such a wonderful writer, and this post almost made me cry. I have such an admiration for what you and so many others do every single day. People like you are my heroes.

  8. Good one :) also remember because of you some of us get many more years with a loved one and we couldn't be more grreatful! Thank u:) and Merry Christmas!

  9. It definitely takes a special (and strong) person. And you are one.

  10. Thank you for this. Like others, I too have been quietly reading your blog and soaking up any bits of advice. I am pre-med at the moment and your advice could not be more on point. Thanks once again.

  11. One of the first things I thought of when I heard about Sandy Hook was, oh God have mercy on the responders. Cannot imagine.

  12. ugh. this post is so heartbreakingly true, and I forget this sometimes. My husband hides behind humor and sarcasm when he gets home from the hospital, but I'm sure he feels these exact things, and I sometimes feel like I do an awful job of helping him not go crazy. thanks for the reminder. I know you'll make it.

  13. you do such wonderful things everyday, em. sending virtual hugs!

  14. you're my hero. I thought about the first responders and doctor that horrific day...and the day hear hurt for them. I can't imagine what they went through..what you go through on a daily basis. I am just thankful there are doctors like you out there. It is comforting. love you so much.

  15. is it funny that I read this in Meredith's voice?

    I always try and remember to pray for the people that serve others, and think of the sacrifices that you make. Thanks to all of you.

  16. is it funny that I read this in Meredith's voice?

    I always try and remember to pray for the people that serve others, and think of the sacrifices that you make. Thanks to all of you.

  17. this is amazing! You are such an incredible person, really. SO GLAD I got to meet you last week! Hope you have a great Christmas, and your schedule allows you a little time to spend it with those you love the most!


  18. I am reading this post after Jenni from Story of my life shared it on her facebook page.

    It really did give me goosebumps! You don't think about others professions really, so having your insight into it really does make me stop & appreciate all doctors do.

    You have inspired me to do a post like this but from the stance of my profession.

    I am new follower and look forward to reading more.

    Have a merry Christmas!

  19. If I haven't said it before, I will say it now.

    You, my dear Emily, are one hell of a human being.

  20. You are awesome, and a thanks from me for those who are too tired or sick to tell you. Thank you for helping people in our city. I hope there is some surprise or joy for you this week.

  21. I heart this post. And you. Very well written, love!

  22. You are incredible. I'm thankful you are my friend.

  23. this is awesome. i had an ectopic recently, and i was blown away by the kindness and smiles and reassurance and encouragement from my doctors. i sent them a thank you note, and one of the gynecologists called me back to thank me for the thank you card and i cried. it made my world. <3

  24. i KNOW i couldn't do it, but am extremely grateful for those who do.
    up top, lady. and a hug.

  25. i just came across your blog, and i couldn't agree more. so many things i've tried to say and couldn't really find the words to say so eloquently. thank you, from a fellow resident. carin


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