On Switching Paths
Journeying through psychology to medicine — A personal reflection.
When we make big changes in life, doubts abound. There might be more questions than answers. I am a medical student who completed a psychology degree before commencing my studies of medicine at HKU. Studying medicine as a degree holder is uncommon in Hong Kong. Those with a degree in psychology? An even rarer species. When you travel off the beaten track, you may have even more questions, from yourself and maybe from others. Thinking back, was it a waste of time to study psychology before? What is the role of my psychology background in my studies of medicine?
The Road Not Taken ~ Robert Frost. https://awestruckwanderer.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/precious-poetry-4th-edition-robert-frosts-the-road-not-taken/
Sometimes I do wonder, were my years spent in psychology a waste of time? The more I think about this question, the more I am convinced that it is not true. Some people may think of life as driving through a highway towards a particular destination. In this imagery, I made a wrong turn, leading to my studies in psychology, steering me away from the destination. After spending hours exploring and rerouting, I finally come back to the highway towards my original direction. However, I find this analogy an inaccurate depiction of what I think of life is. This analogy focuses too much on the destination. In fact, in life, I don’t think there is a clear destination. Life is a process. A better mental imagery for my journey would be an exploration in foreign country. Sometimes I stay in the coastal town for a while. Sometimes, attracted by the scenery of the mountains, I move there for a while, and then relocate to the suburb of a city to explore a different kind of life. The scenery along the journey is what you get. For me, there is no clear ultimate goals or destination in life. It is about the process, or the journey, instead of the goal.
All our detours in life, good or bad, intended or otherwise, add something to our perspectives, allow us to meet different people and broaden our understanding ~ Dr Abigail Wright, Lecturer, MEHU, HKU.
My passion to commence on a career in medicine is, surprisingly, my takeaway from my journey in psychology. Psychology helped with my exploration of what I want to do and who I want to become. Psychology is not a professional degree. Psychology is a general degree, with diverse career options. Since my undergraduate degree did not directly lead to any professional qualifications, I had to explore who I was and who I wanted to be. The answer did not just spring to my mind. It evolved with time, along with the diverse experience I had throughout that whole time, experimenting with my different interests by volunteering and working under various professors. Not all interests are equally strong. Some faded with time but others grew only stronger. For me, it was my interest in people’s well-being and how our biology affects it. Apart from consolidating my aspiration, I was also heavily influenced by the people I met in psychology. Perhaps I learnt even more from the people I interacted with rather than the knowledge on textbooks. I worked with professors who devoted so much effort to research and patients. I learnt from my classmates who were so passionate about mental health that they founded an NGO striving to eradicate social stigma. Awed by their devotion, I know I too can dream big. All these experiences fueled my interest in medicine. I aspire to use the tools of medicine to enhance the well-being of my patients. My journey in psychology has forever changed me. I will carry on what I have acquired in psychology and bring it on to my practice. I would not have become the same person if it were not for my years spent in psychology. And importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of studying psychology.
My past experience kindled in me the passion for medicine, the path that I am currently on. No one can tell how the future will unfold. As is all travelling, time is limited. But for me, the pursuit for medicine is a worthwhile one in my journey.
Steven Chu (MBBS1)