Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 9 - Page 12

DECADES OF DOCTORS
( continued from page 9 ) me what I wanted to be when I grow up . Honestly , being a doctor was the last thing I wanted . I saw how tired my dad was at night and his absence at dance recitals and school functions was always noticeable . Despite his fatigue , he always was kind when talking to patients and staff . The expectations were also suffocating at times . The occasional A- was not good enough and extracurricular activities that did not contribute to my overall resume for college were considered a waste of time . I wanted experiences like my friends with non-doctor parents , like being able to go to summer camp or missing school for fake illnesses , and not to have to spend my summers working in the dusty old patient file room in my dad ’ s office .
I thought of other careers . I pictured myself as a commercial artist , though I didn ’ t really know what a commercial artist did , it just sounded cool . For a fleeting moment , I thought of being a lawyer , but nothing about law fascinated me . I dreamed of being a Broadway singer but heard countless stories of struggling singers and actors . All the while , my parents quietly listened to all these thoughts and dreams , even when I pushed them to loudly react in protest . Despite all my pushing and searching for different paths , I always seemed to find myself back to medicine and that yearn to help and serve others grew . And though I say I made it back to medicine on my own , I know I was never alone .
The day I graduated from medical school , both my parents were there to place my hood as they announced my name . It was one of the best moments of my life . That moment marked a change in our relationship . No longer was I just their daughter , but I now was their colleague . From that moment , I saw my parents differently . I started to appreciate the long hours that my dad had put in when I was younger and that the missed dance recitals were sacrifices he made for our family . I saw my mom as the wonderful and dedicated physician she is , and how she balanced being a physician with being a mom . All the expectations and pressure , though during my younger years seemed overwhelming , finally made sense .
Now as a parent myself , I think often of my own childhood and how my perspective has changed from then to now . I remember those summers in my dad ’ s old file room fondly and of the days he let me eat the snacks in the doctors ’ lounge . I understand the sacrifices both my parents made in their careers and their family life to provide the best for my brothers and me while still honoring their oath to their patients . I look at my son and can ’ t help but wonder if he ’ ll be the third generation of physicians in our family and if the legacy will continue with him or with my niece or nephews . I am careful to let him have his own experiences and create his own path but can ’ t help to share my joy of caring for others with him . I worry that he ’ ll feel pressure or think I have expectations of him other than just wanting the best for him , just like my parents wanted for me .
In the meantime , I will quietly listen to his thoughts and dreams of the future . He currently has a list of the great things he wants to be , like an astronaut , a soccer player , a scientist and maybe a doctor . The one sure thing is that in those early mornings when he asks if he can stay home from school , I will make him go to school with his fake tummy ache . Dr . Valerie Briones-Pryor is a hospitalist with UofL Health .

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