What is it like being a doctor?

During my second year of residency, I volunteered to speak for a few minutes to students (ages 6-18) at a non-profit organization called 826CHI. The program helps children in Chicago develop creative and expository writing skills. I came to talk about what it means to be a doctor.

To my surprise, they prepared for my visit by writing cards with questions to ask me during a sort of Q&A session. I collected the cards and spent time answering them. What struck me was the sincerity and uninhibited gusto of their questions!

It was such a joy! And thus, I leave some joy for you too!

“What is it like being a Docter?”

I answered this straightforwardly. Little did I know it would only get tougher.

“Who do docter do this? Ho are they smarte?”

I took this opportunity to talk about good study habits and to encourage kids to work hard. It was the Tiger mom in me I think.

“Why do you like your job?”

A good question.

“What is the most bizarre diagnosis you ever gave?”

A difficult question. It was a hard choice to explain something legitimately bizarre and risk being incomprehensible or to pick something boring. Or gory. Or inappropriate.

“Is it healthy to eat cake like 13 or 14 times a year?”

I said yes. But not 15.

“What influenced you to become a doctor?”

I again took this opportunity to enforce the values of working hard and prioritizing studying over playing. My future children will read this one day and say, “Well, that’s how he was before we were born. That’s just how dad is.”

“Do you have a pet, what r your hobbies”

I have no time to feed another organism. If I had a hobby it would be feeding myself.

“Is your work hard to do!”

I answered yes then battled within myself to not fully explain this. Emotions– too– real. Must– move on– to– the next question.

“How do you treat cancer? How many types of cancers are there?”

Seriously? Unexpected advanced question. Struggled to simplify into a 30 second pretty package. Gathered within me all faculty and experience of the past– from telling bad news to explaining complicated medical diagnoses– but still not prepared to answer question in a way that a 6 year-old could understand. Flustered. Flopped. Failed. Should’ve skipped this question.

“How old are you, what is your favorite food, what is your favorite restreant, do you have any pets, do you have kids.”

It almost sounds like a doctor could potentially be a real person and have and do normal things.

“Do you have a dog”


“How much do you get paid?”

Far less than you think.


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

– 1 Timothy 4

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