Hello and Happy New Year!
It’s Anjalee here, the Disillusioned Medic, and I am delighted to say that I am BACK! After a long leave of absence, I’m going to be writing more articles on this blog, as well as creating some videos and podcasts too, so watch this space!
So why the return now??
When I wrote my last post in August 2017, I really felt like I’d made my peace with my medical life. This blog had served as a place for me to vent all my pain, resentment, guilt, and a whole host of other less than pleasant feelings about my time in the noble profession. I had moved on, and was looking forward to the next stage.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
And it was a busy couple of years! I launched my own business consultancy, got a regular column in a business magazine, started a podcast, and – my greatest achievement – I’m the very proud mother of a beautiful daughter. It seemed like my doctoring days were well and truly behind me… but some things have a strange way of reappearing in your life. What was it Luna Lovegood said? “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect”…
Becoming a mentor
Back when I started writing the blog, a lot of doctors got in touch with me to tell me about their own situations and ask for advice or to hear more about my experiences. This was lovely for me, of course, but it also made sense – I was keeping myself in the career-transition spotlight, after all. But what surprised me was the fact that this continued even after I’d stopped writing – even when the weeks, months, years of inactivity passed by, the blog was still drawing visitors. The questions kept coming and the doctors kept calling. I was doing so much informal mentorship that eventually I felt compelled to set up a proper mentorship programme, and before I knew it, I was coaching career-questioning doctors on a regular basis alongside my other work!
I realised there was so much NEW stuff to say, and though it’s been slightly delayed as I’ve been on maternity leave, I’m so excited about using this platform again to open up all those discussions.
It’s funny, when I left medicine, I worried so much about not making a difference in people’s lives anymore – of not doing something truly worthwhile. But I look back now and realise I should never have got so worked up about that. My journey through the business world since leaving has allowed to me understand what my true strengths really are. I see now that I love to listen to people. I love to be there for them in times of distress, to witness their grief, to hear their stories, to show them other possible paths, and to share those of my own experiences that might help to guide them. Whether that’s for senior executives of corporate bodies in my consultancy work, or for doctors feeling as lost as I once was in my mentoring role, I have found the work that lights a fire beneath me. I have discovered a sense of purpose that I never had before.
At the end of my very last blog, I said:
‘The slight irony is that, the thing I loved most about medicine was the interaction with patients, and that was the thing that was most difficult to find the time to do, given the vast pressures we were under. Now, having left medicine, but still having the title of ‘doctor’, I have the time and the ability to listen to sad things without becoming sad myself. People tell me stuff they wouldn’t tell other people. They trust me and ask my advice, but really I think it’s just being heard that does the most healing. ‘
Being a doctor was an honour and a privilege – I have always believed that, even at my lowest moments – but now I realise it’s still a privilege. For the people I coach, I am often the only person in their life with whom they can be truly open. Knowing I’m a doctor builds a sense of trust and confidentiality. And for me, the skill of listening to the most difficult moments of a person’s life, taught to me by the many patients who shared their stories with me over my clinical career, has become a cornerstone of my practice.
We all go into medicine with that clichéd, if slightly vague desire to ‘help people’ – but that doesn’t mean that being a doctor is in only way we can help people. My purpose in life is greater than my job, and though the path to finding it might not have been exactly smooth or painless (this blog can attest to that!) – my god, was it worth the journey.