A Career in Dietetics

That’s what I decided would make me happiest in life. This realization came after seriously considering applying for medical school for about a month. In fact, I signed up for the MCAT, borrowed MCAT books from the library, started reviewing physics (which I dreaded ever since I first took it online in high school), thought about which medical schools I wanted to get into, considered when would be the best time to apply, and may have begun thinking about who to ask for reference letters.

I thought I wanted to work as a medical doctor for several reasons. I liked the opportunities for problem-solving in medicine. It would definitely be intellectually stimulating. There’s the opportunity for continual learning. I would have the knowledge to drastically impact a person’s overall health and quality of life (hopefully for the better, but potentially for the worse as well). I thought it would give me a broader range of experiences than dietetics, and variety in a job is super important for me. Also, there’s quite a bit of flexibility within the field of medicine as well. I could (in theory) choose from a variety of fields and specializations depending on my own interests and preferences. Finally, there’s the higher earning potential and better job security, both of which matter to me too.

So I held on to the belief that I wanted all of the things listed above as I studied for the MCAT and made notes about the laws of physics. The studying itself was fine, not nearly as intimidating as the first time I learned it, even… dare I say it, somewhat enjoyable. My decision to apply to medical school was met with positive reactions from friends, and I believed I had a good chance of succeeding if I tried hard enough.

Then I got busier with work, MCAT studying was put slightly behind schedule, I met with a couple of dietitians (one of whom is practically living my dream career), and I began to question if medical school would be the right choice for me.

As part of the decision-making process, I made a list of things I like about dietetics. On top of that list was: “I have more opportunities to work with food, which I love”. And to be honest, that’s thing that I would miss the most about being a dietitian. Cooking, diets, nutrition, environmentally and socially sustainable food production. These are the issues that I really, really care about, and I probably wouldn’t get as many opportunities to work on projects that make an impact in these areas if I became a doctor. Sure, there were things that I would enjoy about working as a doctor too, but they didn’t speak to my heart and make it sing.

So even though I’ll be down a few hundred dollars from the MCAT, I’ve gained so much through this introspection process. For the first time since applying to dietetics (2.5 years ago!) I’ve taken time to reflect and articulate what I really want from my job. I’ve reaffirmed that I’m more than willing to work hard to achieve my goals and aspirations. As of now, I’m choosing to be fueled by my passion for food and health while using my brain to open doors to potential career paths. Happily and confidently, I can say that I’m not going to medical school because I would rather be a dietitian.

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