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Childhood memories of wanting to be a doctor, Part I

When you are a kid, so many grown-ups ask you that timeless question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Some kids dream of being an astronaut or a teacher or a veterinarian when they get older. Others want to be firemen or an athlete or even – yes – a doctor!

We recently asked doctors on Sermo to share with us some of their childhood memories of wanting to be a doctor when they grew up. It turns out that many of them knew from a young age that this was their calling! We’ve compiled some of our favorite member comments here, in the first of a 2-part installment:

“When I was 7, I remembered wanting to be a doctor. My little sister was ill with the flu, and I remember sitting by her bed with a cold cloth, fetching her water, rubbing her hand. (The only time I was that kind to her, ha ha). Then, when I was a teenager, I wanted to be (of all things) an investigative journalist, a la “deep throat,” uncovering truth. I am a psychiatrist now, and I love it. I am (hopefully) helping people uncover their personal truths, and doing diagnostic assessments is not dissimilar to detective work, but without the danger.  My sister? She’s a family physician.” – A psychiatrist in Canada

“I was always an altruist, even as a little child… I knew I should help the ones in need. The problem was that I was an overall excellent student, which means that I could not decide if I should become a lawyer (serve the law and save the ‘good’ guys) or a doctor (save lives per se). As I was getting older, I realized that there are more bad guys in this world, trying to cheat you… It was then, that I knew that I would become a doctor: at least I knew I would serve the human life, giving hope and smiles to my patients!  Of course in medicine there is life and death, but you have to do your best and sleep with a clear conscience every night.” – A general practitioner in Greece

“I grew up in Tanzania, my father being a missionary, a clergyman. This was way back in 50’s when the missionaries, wearing a tropical helmet, would move around, sometimes by car (Jeep or Land Rover) but mostly on foot, with a rifle in one hand and the Bible in the other… from one village to another… This was what my dad did. We had as one of our nearest neighbours (some 8-hour drive by car – not very close-by), a fellow missionary family. The family father was a doctor. A real ‘bare-foot’ physician, who did almost everything possible with a real minimum of resources, surgical procedures way out in the bush. I was around 5 years old and was very fascinated to listen to his stories whenever we met. He made a deep and lasting impression on me. I decided that was the way to go.  After we’d moved back to Sweden as a 12-13 year old boy, I had some of my own medical experiences and met this old, wise and very friendly family doctor: then I knew for sure what my future occupation was going to be. And that’s what it came down to in the end: I’ve been a GP my whole adult/occupational life, don’t regret my choice for one second. Twenty work days from now I’ll retire and can look back on a very satisfying life, and to the childhood heroes that put me on a beautiful track: Thank you.” – A general practitioner in Sweden

“I knew when I was four years old. My father was an old school Family Doc, solo practice, on call 24/7 and did house calls. My earliest memories are of going with my dad on house calls. I would carry his Doctor’s Bag and we would drive together, then meet the patient’s relative at a designated public telephone booth (from where they had made the call), and then walk with the relative through the shanty town to the patient’s shanty. I loved doing this. I felt so proud of my dad. He was so kind and so gentle and the patients adored him. At age four, I remember saying to him, ‘Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be just like you.’ I fulfilled my dream of becoming a Family Doc, and my only regret is that my dad passed on not long after… There are many days when I want to call him and say, ‘Dad, guess what I saw/did today.’  I love being a Physician… and yes, I would do it all over again! No regrets. Graduated 34 years ago.” – A general practitioner in Canada

Stay tuned for an upcoming Part II of this series!

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