A number of young women have reached out to me to inquire about a career in medicine as it may coincide or conflict with responsibilities at home. While I’m delighted to mentor on an individual basis, I also feel compelled to address the topic publicly.
My intent in writing From Medical Doctor to Stay-at-Home Mom was never to dissuade women from pursuing careers in medicine. Please, let me be perfectly clear on that.
Rather, I hoped to illustrate that whatever our vocation, we must seek it for God’s glory, not for our own. (Col 3:17, Col 3:23-24, Matt 5:16) I wrote the article from the perspective of a woman who’d so steeped herself in the success-obsessed culture of the day, that I built my identity upon my career, rather than upon my forgiveness in Christ. I idolized my work. Although my job as a trauma surgeon required sacrifice and service to humanity, I wed myself to it not out of love for Him, but to buttress my pride. Then, the Lord gave me a child for whom homeschooling was the best educational option, planted a love for teaching my own kids in my heart, and convicted me with the Word such that it was impossible to fulfill my Christian duty to my kids and still continue clinical practice.
Obviously not every woman in medicine will fall into the same sin that I did. On the other hand, women who decide to stay home full-time, from the start, can also idolize their choices. The key is, do we pursue our vocation for the Lord, or for our own edification?
Although I’m now walking a different path, I have no regrets about my medical career, and in fact am deeply grateful for it. The Lord used my work to bring me to Himself (please see my testimony). The experience shaped me in ways pivotal to my faith journey, and continues to influence me now. Through medicine, my days intersected with those of thousands of people whom otherwise I would never have known. Each one of those people — not only patients, but nurses, students, mentors, and colleagues — left a fingerprint upon me. Each one sculpted me, and influenced me in ways dramatic and subtle, awkward and tender. I dare to hope that the Lord used me in those encounters to effect good in others’ lives.
Through medicine, the Lord taught me how to teach, and how to learn. He taught me the value of immersion, of inspiration, of study devoted to greater purpose. These lessons now cascade down to my children as we learn bird calls in the backyard and seek out countries on a map.
Through medicine, the Lord demonstrated for me His grace in the midst of agony, and the peace that can persist despite fathomless suffering. He allowed me intimacy in moments I never would have contemplated, and an opportunity to reach and to learn from people in the most dire of circumstances. He taught me about life, death, and the blurred expanse between them. He gave me insights into violence, stress, and grief, but also into love, and into a hope that swallows up all fear. I don’t think I would have a writing ministry had I not witnessed God’s work in the midst of suffering firsthand.
So, if your reasons for pursuing medicine are rooted in service to the Lord, GO. We all have seasons in life. When children come, God will show you the way. Either He will guide you to a flexible specialty, or part time work, or call you away entirely (as in my case), or bless you with a family you’re able to support despite the demands of work. Whatever the case, He will guide you.
Consider your motivations. Ask “for whom do I pursue this?” If within your mind and heart, you know the truth to be, “I pursue this to serve God,” then, GO. Go, and trust in the Lord with all your heart. (Prov 3:5)