Why Am I Here?

Navjit Singh (College of Medicine)

Recently I was asked why I decided to go into medicine. The person asking had the assumption that all of us trying to become doctors are doing it for the money. I was shocked because the thought of doing this for money has never crossed my mind. And I’ve never felt like any of my classmates were here for the money either. “There are easier ways to make money without going through all these years of training,” I told them.

“So then why are you doing this?” they asked again. And so, I paused. I thought long and hard. Why am I here? Why am I trying to become a doctor? The easy answer that you hear from everyone is because they like helping people. And although, that may be true, that is not the only reason. There are other ways to help people that don’t require endless hours of studying and exams every other week.

I continued to reflect on my decision. What made me choose medicine as a career? What made me decide to devote my life to this field? Was it my love for science? Was it because I enjoy learning and wanted a field that is always changing? I kept thinking and thinking but could not think of a single answer. And that’s because there is no single answer. There isn’t just one thing that made me pursue medicine.

I decided to go into medicine for many reasons. I want to help others and build relationships with my patients that will have a lasting impact on us both. I want to continue to expand my knowledge and learn about all the exciting new discoveries being made. I want to advocate for patients to create a more equitable and safe healthcare system for all. I wanted a career that would be meaningful.

So I explained this all to the person, and now they paused. I could see that they were deep in thought. And then they finally spoke. “I guess you really do gotta love what you do if you’re gunna be in school for that long,” they said. And I laughed. Because they were right. No one would put themselves through all the hardships of medical school and residency if they really truly didn’t love what they do.

I was asked this question about a week ago that made me reflect on my decision to pursue medicine. And I encourage you all to take a moment to reflect on the same question as well. Why are you here?