And while I've found that many attendings are not necessarily inclined to take time out of their busy schedule to teach, they are willing to take the time and reinforce their superiority. For every time that I've been genuinely mentored by a physician and asked what I hope to do with my career, I've also been sneered at, "So, what do you want to do when you grow up?" At first the over-achieving part of every medical student wants to hedge their bets and attempt to make a good impression by reporting back the same exact specialty as the inquiring physician. You even probably convince yourself that it's a possibility so that you don't have to be a liar. But as my third year continues I've lost the heart to muster up fake sincerity. These days I just state, "family medicine." Usually I tack on a weak, "... but I'm keeping an open mind."
It's at this point that attendings seize the moment to share their wisdom. They all start with the cursory nod to family medicine, "Primary care is really important. They need good people." With those niceties out of the way, they then point out the various reasons why I'm about to make a mistake. Firstly, "Unless you're in a rural area, family practitioners don't get to do anything but refer people." And secondly, "Nurse practitioners and Physician Assistants are taking over outpatient care; it's best to specialize because you'll always have a distinct skill." This statement subtly implies that outpatient medicine is not complicated enough for professionals of our caliber. Sometimes they even appeal to my ego and imply that I'm "too good" to become a family physician. And though it's never explicitly stated, we both know I'm choosing a path that will pay far less than the overwhelming majority of other specialties. While I sit there politely and try to behave like the perfect mentee, my own mind is in a state of panic.