On my shelf is a long-cherished and much-used copy of Mirriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage. When hmmming between using UNtraditional or NONtraditional in my title for this blog, I separated this book from its newfound scientific nonfiction buddies and took a peek. But unfortunately, I was left to rove the World Wide Web for a solution to this problem. As the internet puts it, “untraditional” is used to define a purposeful break from tradition. “Nontraditional,” on the other hand, refers to a general lack of tradition from the outset.
“Nontraditional” is a word that describes me very well. I grew up in the Florida Keys in a family of four sisters. My dad was a tropical fish collector and wholesaler; my mom gave up her career as a nurse to raise us and homeschool all of us. I began dual-enrollment in college courses so that I could graduate simultaneously with my high school diploma and my AA degree. I split my bachelor’s degree between two schools–the first one I hated (hence transferring) and the second one I loved. I was 20 when I graduated from college in 2011. My love for reading led me to apply to graduate school for an MFA in editing at a school in Boston. I was accepted, but something didn’t feel quite right about that path, so instead I took a job at a medical office.
The fact that I grew up particularly squeamish about eyes made my job at the ophthalmology clinic an especially amusing joke for my family. But time and exposure are powerful things.
For fun, lets fast forward to 2015. After all this is when my own personal McDreamy (you’ll allow me one Grey’s joke, right?) came into my life. It was a time when I was beginning to think seriously about the direction of my life. I even made a physical list of possible career paths. I mentally waded through my options, gradually ruling out all the options that didn’t spark my passion. And when I landed on medicine, it was my McDreamy (Hubs, as I’ll call him on this blog, thanks to the wonderful rings and what they symbolize) who gave me his absolute support and encouragement. He welcomed my plan to go back to school, even knowing how my having a career will impact our future family life. (God bless him. There are just so many reasons I married him.)
And that’s how it all started.
I could write a complicated answer to the golden interview question “Why do you want to be a doctor?”, but it’s actually quite simple: there is a force much greater than my own that has brought me into medicine. It is something Divine. It is at once inside of me and outside of me and not a part of me at all.
You can see why I had special trouble when it came time to write my application essay for AMCAS. As a so-called “nontraditional applicant” sifting through a pool of I-always-knew-I-wanted-to-be-a-doctor essay examples, I felt at a loss. Am I supposed to fib? What happens if I admit that I didn’t always want to be a doctor? If I admit that I was squeamish about eyes or avoided people if I knew they had the flu?
I am ecstatic that, whether in spite of or because of my stubborn honesty, I was accepted to several medical schools for the class of 2023. In this blog, I hope to share my journey with others as I begin medical school this fall. I follow many blogs from other writers in medicine, and although they are all much farther into the world of medicine than I am at this time, I find their posts humanizing, relatable, and deeply comforting. I hope that my blogging has the same effect.