Why Did YOU Become A Doctor Anyway?

Sometimes, I walk by our office’s front desk window and peak into our waiting room. There I usually find a room of anxious-looking children squirming around in their chairs. I then stick my tongue out at them (I was not taught this during residency). In my experience, if you stick your tongue out at a kid long enough they will do the same thing back. Some may find this behavior strange, and while I don't think children should even be taught this behavior, it helps me establish a connection with the kiddos.
Artwork by Saleh Heneidi
People often ask me, “What made you want to be a doctor?” The truth is I don't know. There was no great epiphany. I took a bunch of film classes in college and then decided to go to medical school for some reason. So while I do not get to direct the next Batman film, titled The Dark Knight Rises to Fight Ebola (I had to throw Batman in here), I do not regret the choice that I made.

If I were to be asked that same question nowadays, the answer is easy: it's the people. Year after year, the families that I meet humble me, they keep me grounded and they make me always try to be a better physician. In some instances, when I go to the hospital to see a family that just had a baby, they want to take a picture with me and the baby. This is a small thing, and it happens to most pediatricians. Yet, every time this happens, I still get surprised. In my head, the thought is always, “Really? You want a picture of me, and the most important person in your life?”
Photo by Me!
In the modern world we are connected through cell phones and “social” media. Everyday, I walk into patient rooms, and at the same time I walk into people's families. I have somehow become part of these families; and while I do not get invited to the dinner table, I do feel a responsibility to never let them down. Being a pediatrician does not mean that I just give out vaccines and wear strange ties. It also means that everyday I am reminded that at the center of medicine is humanity.

The truth is that when I leave work and walk outside that office, I don’t view myself as a physician. In fact, I’m the same as every patient that I encounter. Getting to know the families that I treat reminds me that when I walk into a patient encounter, I am not greater than that patient. I am still just Ahmad Bailony, and Ahmad Bailony happens to have some medical knowledge. I try to always be myself, even at work, although I become the expletive-free version of myself.

On one occasion, as I was leaving a patient room, a two-and-a-half-year old boy gave me a hug. He then proceeded to sing the entire "I love you" song from Barney. I reacted the same way I always do when people express strong emotions towards me... I got awkward, told him I'd give him a call in the morning, and quickly exited the room. One day I hope to be able to sing that song back, but for now I can only be me.

Walking in my old man shoes, with my scientist heart
I got a fever and a beaker and a shot in the dark
- The Gaslight Anthem


  1. Doctor
    Your thoughts are stellar wow!
    I know they are real because I saw you @ Mary Birch with your patients please keep
    Inspiring us

  2. Excellent! Just found your blog via your KevinMD post, and I can relate to your posts! I have bright pink cowboy boots w white polka dots (and an eyechart on the bottom for good measure), so it should be obvious that pediatrics is my own 'medical home.' Why doctor? science is neat, and helping people with it is neater. Why Peds? Because you get to say BOOGER and FART very, very seriously, then stick your tongue out.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts