I did my best to avoid being a doctor. All the advice I got in college was that being a physician would be miserable – that doctors don’t get paid enough for all the training and difficulty they face. To avoid medical school, I taught middle school math and science for two years, but even though I enjoyed my students immensely, I still heard the calling. I chose an osteopathic school to be with peers who were more focused on the dream of caring for patients than being the top of the class, and I pursued a military scholarship to avoid the mountains of debt while also getting to serve my country. I completed medical school and residency, and have moved a few times with the Air Force. I discovered areas of the country that I thought I would hate, but now have to plan vacations around because we have too many good friends there to neglect. Most recently, we lived for three years in Germany, and I can’t wait to find an excuse to go back!
For now, my husband, our five kids, are living the homesteading dream in Colorado Springs with our chickens and cow. I’ve got plans for some apple trees and raspberry bushes this spring, and it’s certainly a far cry from when we would travel at least to France or Belgium every weekend, and I would fly in F-16s every week.
Even after so many years of training, I don’t think my education is by any means over. I certainly learned a lot while in the Air Force! I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying learning the basics of flight, though the steps of how to investigate an airplane crash is probably not for everyone. Even now, I keep finding new courses to take and credentials that would be helpful for my patients. While in residency, I had my second baby and became a lactation consultant to help others achieve their goals to feed breastmilk to their babies. Last year I passed the test to be able to provide Department of Transportation (DOT) exams and certifications. I’m currently seeking to be certified as a FertilityCare Medical Consultant to help patients achieve pregnancy by observing their own fertility cycles.
More important than any class or diploma, though, has been my own personal experience. My most helpful insights in how to be a better parent, take care of elderly family, help a friend through surgery, or love a sibling through addiction, come from seeing those in my own life. It’s gotten to the point that helping others is the only bright point I see in some experiences – I remember catching the swine flu when I was pregnant with my first child, and monitoring my heart rate as it increased, hour by hour, as I continued to vomit anything I ate, contemplating my dehydration. Sucking on an ice cube was just what I needed for my fever and for those precious drips of water, and I recommend that to sick patients now all the time! Patients often wonder if they are boring me with their stories, but I always promise, they are not – I always have more to learn.