Because I Want To Help People!

AUGUST 6, 2007

Being a person who's going to med school, there's one question nearly all of us have fielded for years. We've heard it in at med school admissions interviews, from grandma at thanksgiving, from that cute brunette at the bar, in conversations with undergrad professors.

"What made you want to be a doctor?"

"Why medicine?"

"Why do you want to be a doctor?"

There's a certain way to answer this question during med school interviews. You're supposed to say because its intellectually stimulating. Because you want to be a lifelong learner. Because you want to operate in a prestigious field. Because you are fascinated by the human body. Under no circumstances are you to say it's because you want to help people (ironically, I actually used this in my interviews and my interviewer at one said it was refreshing... REFRESHING! to hear a prospective med school student say he wanted to go into medicine to help people. Ah, medicine!).

When talking to pretty much anyone else... you always say what made you want to be a doctor was to help people (especially if you're talking to that cute brunette). Grandma doesn't want to hear about your "intellectually stimulating-shmimulating" crap.

For me, it was none of those things which first made me want to be a doctor. It wasn't because I popped out of the womb all altruistic and empathetic and scoring 35s on my mock MCATs.

For all of you to see, I will now unveil what made me first want to be a doctor.

...drumroll please...

August 7th, 1989 I received my Fischer Price Medical Bag for my 4th birthday. And the rest is history. Oh sure, eventually (not too much later actually) I knew I wanted to help people, and that vibed with medicine. In high school I knew I'd be a lifelong learner, and that vibed with medicine. I learned I loved challenges, and that vibed with medicine.

But it was all really that bag. From that day on I was all about the doctor-ness. While moving the other day I recently rediscovered this bag and went about examining its treasurers.

The Stethoscope:

3M Littmann Canary Blue/Baby Blue vs. Welch Allyn Firetruck Red/Classic Blue

From day one I had two stethoscopes in my bag. Deep down, I believe its because 3m Littmann and Welch Allyn both knew that one day they would be competing for my loyalties.

Unfortunately, neither carry stethoscopes in Canary Yellow/Baby Blue or Firetruck Red/Classic Blue anymore. I had to settle for Black/Brushed Steel. Maybe one day I can work with some reps to get some poppin' color back on the line.

Sexy Grown-Up MedZag Stethoscope (Welch Allyn Elite)

The Sphygmomanometer:

Yes, I owned a sphygmomanometer at age 4. That means I owned one on average of 20 years before my med school classmates. Does this make me a gunner? It's open to debate.

It's worth noting, however, that even though I've owned a sphygmomanometer for 18 years now, I still have no idea how the f@*k to pronounce the word.

The Rest:

Tons of stuff in this bag. At my med school, they recommend a student collect the following items before starting their clinical rotations: stethoscope, otoscope, sphygmomanometer, opthalmoscope, reflex hammer, and tuning fork. Of those items, I had 4 in my bag at age 4. The two I was missing, the opthalmoscope and tuning fork, I compensated with bandaids, a thermometer, and THREE syringes. So you could make the case that I was ready for clinical rotations from the day I received the bag. And ready for a crash code, since those three syringes are obviously filled with epi, atropine, and magnesium sulfate.

I'm considering taking the bag for a spin out in the bars here sometime soon. After all, next time I get asked "so why did you want to become a doctor?" (and it WILL happen soon), I figure it will be much easier to hold up the bag than launch into a rhetoric on my inherent altruistic nature.

Besides, it makes a great accessory. The cute brunette will appreciate that.