When I was growing up , there was a lot of discussion about careers . Being immigrants , my parents ’ focus on grades and college acceptance was paramount after they struggled to be accepted in a new country where their foreign degrees were viewed with some skepticism . My parents , both physicians , were dismayed by my older sister ’ s disinterest in the sciences . She dreamt of a career as a journalist , or TV news anchor or violin teacher ... really anything unrelated to medicine . Growing up , because of immigration laws favoring certain professions , most of the Indians we knew were physicians . There was definitely no one on TV who looked like us . My sister ’ s career choices didn ’ t seem feasible to my parents . In their opinion , medicine had allowed them to emigrate from India , and had provided us all the comforts and luxuries of life that they did not grow up with .
Thus , I often found myself at the dinner table , my eyes ping-ponging back and forth between my sister and my parents , intermittently piping up in solidarity with my big sister ’ s desire to forge her own path , but also slowly soaking in the firmer parts of their arguments .
I never heard my parents complain about going to work the way parents on those 1990s Friday night sitcoms used to . At the end of the day there always was an interesting case to discuss , or a funny interaction with another doctor to recount . Sometimes my dad would come home with beautiful , handmade gifts from grateful patients . I found these small joys hard to ignore . Whether it was predestined by birth order and the associated desire to please my parents , or whether I simply internalized all those dinnertime discussions about my sister , I decided at an early age that I would become a doctor .
When I sat in my fist pre-med class at Washington University in St . Louis , Missouri , surrounded by 400 other kids vigorously taking notes in general chemistry , the doubt started to set in . What exactly made me think I was cut out for this - just the fact that my parents thought this was a good idea for me ? Somehow , I learned to ignore that nagging self-doubt , and when I got into medical school at the University of Louisville I felt vindicated . I lived at home with my parents , and our relationship changed . There wasn ’ t pressure to study constantly like in high school . I had gotten into med school , and they could breathe ; they were probably even more relieved than I was ! I challenged my parents to an anatomy competition as a form