Words of a Mentor Who Helps Us Find Our Path?
We don’t always end up where we expect to be in life. I understand this truth quite well. When I started my career in the medical field, pain management wasn’t on my radar. In fact, when I got out of medical school I didn’t even know pain management was a real specialty! I set out to be a surgeon, and when I decided that career path wasn’t for me, I would have ended up in anesthesia were it not for my mentor. My mentor was Dr. H, a well-known neurosurgeon. To call him “tough” would be a massive understatement. I never really knew if he liked me or not. Dr. H was really strict and hard to impress, but I learned more about surgery from him than I did from any other doctor during my residency. Dr. H would later tell me that, among all the interns I worked with, I was the one who impressed him the most! Of course, he would only tell me this after I told him I was leaving the surgical field in favor of another career path. He was disappointed in my decision, but offered me some parting advice: “If you’re going to switch, I would recommend you go into pain management. You have the technical skills and are more than capable of learning the field.” This would turn out to be some of the best advice I have ever received, though I didn’t follow it right away. Instead, I went into anesthesia training and more or less forgot about pain management. But Dr. H had planted the seed. Sometime later, during my anesthesia residency, someone came in to give a presentation about possible specialties we could pursue. That’s when the subject of pain management re-entered my life. For the first time, I recognized the potential in the developing field. Pain doesn’t come from the same source. Each day, you’re faced with a unique case and unique patients. It’s your job to find a solution that can best help them. It is a complicated field, with resources and technology still developing. There was a “Pain doesn’t come from the same source. Each day, you’re faced with a unique case and unique patients.”
degree of challenge I found really appealing. Plus, in pain management, I could start my own business, rather than remain tethered to a big hospital throughout my whole career. After the presentation, I told my colleagues how excited I was about pain management. I considered taking a year off to learn more. At the time, my excitement was met with sarcastic remarks about the validity of the field. Fast- forward to a few years later, and more than a few of my former colleagues are wishing they’d followed my lead. Today, I have more diverse training and skills than if I had stuck with anesthesia. I can put patients to sleep before surgery, but I can also perform the surgery, diagnose problems, run tests, and even consult with insurance companies on other cases. Plus, the field of pain management is rapidly developing, and there is always some new breakthrough to look forward to. I have the opportunity to learn something new all the time, and that is really exciting. I am thankful to Dr. H for putting the idea of pain management in my head. He was right; this is the field I was meant to be in. I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. Dr. Chi Izeogu
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