Dear Future Doctors — Tracy Sanson, MD, FACEP
Dear Future Doctor,
As long as I can remember, I knew I was going to be a doctor. My sisters and brothers will attest that it was always my favorite role to take on in our imaginative play. I don’t know why or when. It was just who I was. It is who I am— so much so that when I wasn’t accepted into medical school my senior year of college I thought, Just watch me, and tried again. And here I am.
Medicine is not an easy road. It shows you the best and worst of the world. It will also afford you the most precious gift— the honor of caring for another human being. You will have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers turn to you in their moment of most profound need and trust you with what they value most in life— a person they love. You will work with the most exceptional people on earth. You will have the highest of highs when everything flows and you have a positive impact on a life. You will have the lowest of lows when you and your colleagues have given it all and could not change an outcome.
Considering a life in medicine is daunting. Do it anyway. We need you. Competence, compassion, and character are vital to thriving in this beautiful, difficult life. Cultivate your resilience— it’s a skill that will stead you well. Develop and keep key relationships. When life gets busy and time is scarce, relationships can suffer. Tend to them. Here are twelve connections that are essential to your career and wellbeing:
Three people who inspire you. Read their books, listen to their podcasts, ask them to sit on your own personal Board of Directors to guide you in times of growth and transition.
Three people who would die for you. Notice I said die for you, not the other way around. Ties that deep require commitment, devotion, and time.
Three people who are your tribe. If you called them right this moment, they would drop everything and fly cross-country to be at your side. You will need these friends on this journey.
Three you are bringing up behind you. Be a mentor. As your career develops, lend a hand to those along the way. Be a champion for other physicians.
Stay true to yourself, your friends, and your family. Live your core values daily. I love this phrase: Work harder on yourself than you do your job. Focus on you, your relationships, and your development. When you grow as a person, you grow as a doctor.
Welcome, and enjoy. It’s a great ride.
Tracy Sanson, MD, FACEP