What inspires this medical student

Someone who I care about deeply messaged me today: “I think I’m done with surgery.”

This person, a surgeon, feels like his potential is elsewhere. There are more opportunities, different challenges, and fulfilling experiences in other places and he is ready to explore.

I told him that he inspires me.

But I am in medical school. So how could someone leaving the medical field be inspiring to me?

Because inspiration does not come from a job description or a fancy white coat. It doesn’t come from money or status or power.

To me, inspiration comes from honoring the things that make you come alive and taking risks in order to fulfill them. It means being scared of something and trying it out anyway. It means searching for the upper limits of what you are capable of. It means you understand that this life is empty and meaningless, and since it is so, YOU create your own meaning and do the things that bring you fulfillment and joy.

Many people within healthcare do inspire me, of course, but it is because they are using medicine to embody the aforementioned values. Risks. Fulfillment. Searching for upper limits. Creating meaning. Medical training is a wonderful and difficult proxy by which to act out these principles.

But if someone decides to express these values outside the sometimes-claustrophobic world of medicine, there is no shame in that. It is equally as valid and impactful and influential. We should applaud them as we do those who find their meaning here.

The point I am trying to convey: We should not find our inspiration from job titles and superficial appearances. We should extrapolate meaning from deeper values and apply it to the way we have chosen to live. So while this person may very well be leaving medicine, and while I am staying within it, he inspires me. He inspires me to live fully, to stop caring about what other people might say, and to make this life my own.

I hope his story inspires you too.

Jamie Katuna is a medical student.  She can be reached at her self-titled site, Jamie Katuna, and on Facebook.

Image credit: Jamie Katuna

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