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We’re Boring
11.26.10

 

I was at the Magic Castle the other night and waiting in line with my friend Suzanne for a show. While in line, I was playing around with a deck of cards when Irwin, the father of a family, asked me to show him something. I got to meet his entire family which consisted of him (a pediatrician), his wife (a pediatrician), his son (who just finished his residency and is now a pediatrician), his daughter (who is finishing UCLA Medical School and wants to be a pediatrician), and another daughter who is in college but wants to go to medical school and become a pediatrician.
 
Obviously, I found this unbelievably remarkable and was unable to tease out of them exactly why pediatrics is such a family business. Was it because the parents were so interested in pediatrics that the kids also found it incredibly attractive? Was it because there was so much domain knowledge about the area and that somehow made success more assured and thus attractive? Their response to my question was a joke -- that they locked their kids in a closet and would ask them what they wanted to be and until they said a pediatrician, they wouldn't let them out.
 
I will say that this family seemed very tight and happy. They also exuded all the family dynamics in public that one usually only sees with families after you get to know them in a more intimate setting (like at the holidays). They were talking over each other, making fun of each other, making fun of themselves, running around to each other, etc.
 
When I asked the eldest daughter, Emily, what she was studying and she told me pediatrics and I found out that her entire family was pediatricians, that's when she said, "We're boring."
 
I don't think there's necessarily anything fundamentally boring about medicine or pediatrics. I will say this though. Many doctor friends that I do know all seem to bemoan their choice of profession. Some complain about the money, others complain about the actual nature of the work (some are in very trying specialities with very ill patients), and others simply seem to view other professions as being more glamorous. I tend to think of medicine as kind of cool. I don't know if I would be a pediatrician, a trauma surgeon, an immunologist or what -- but it seems like a vast area of new and interesting things to learn and a way to help people.
 
I guess what confounded me about what Emily said is WHY she would immediately say something like that. It's possible she absolutely loves her profession and that was nothing more than some automatic mechanism she has to protect herself against people who might say or think something like that. However, let's suppose for a moment that she actually feels that way. Presumably, people would prefer excitement over boring (but not always). Let's assume she would prefer excitement over boring. If that's the case, here's someone clearly intelligent and accomplished -- then why, with all the options basically in the world available to her -- why would she choose boring?

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