"Sometimes changes in the lives of others can truly be made behind closed doors, in a lab, on a bench with just a pipet in hand and a revolutionary idea in head."
The first decisions one takes when aiming for medical school, begin well before you get a white coat and stethoscope around the neck. For me, my passion developed during high school where biological sciences was my favorite subject, and working in a surgical room began to formulate itself as a dream come true. But that passion was also fed by my family's urging towards a career in medicine, since of course a life of a medical doctor in Lebanon is more prestigious and financially rewarding. So I applied for my undergraduate studies in biology and started my first year with full motivation and speed to make it into medical school. There, I truly tasted what it was like to be among other eager yet highly competitive students. Yet, I didn’t expect that I would ever fall in love with anything else.
Even though the curriculum during my bachelors was research oriented, I never thought that the day would come where I would make the decision of becoming a (neuro)scientist. Helping people of their medical suffering was what interested me most, and since I was good at biology and its related fields, I knew that I would one day make it, that I would achieve my goals. These goals kept on pushing me to becoming a doctor, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, as many as possible. However, my love for psychology started to grow. To feed that interest, I chose to take extra courses in psychology, which eventually translated into a life changing decision.
My drive to become a doctor slowly faded. I started questioning the source of those doubts, the reasons that in a blink of an eye made me question my career choices. Did I really want to become a doctor? The thing is, I just couldn’t see myself as a doctor anymore — I wanted to become a scientist, a neuroscientist. I wanted to ask questions, to answer them and to help people suffering — but on a big scale.
After having made my decision, I engaged in a neuroscience study within my university to understand more of what I would be doing for the next coming decade or so. I realized that first, I was not taking the easy way out, since a career in science was as hard, as challenging, if not more. I realized that I was so blinded by the goals set by my parents and myself. I realized that I wanted to go beyond routine, beyond borders and get creative and flexible in my work, to tackle things that I found interesting and important. I realized that my curiosity for non-stereotypical careers was repressed. I knew that there was something troubling me deep down, but didn’t know it would ever spill out the way it did.
Katherine C. Bassil