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