Tuesday, October 9, 2012

two roads diverged

The first real career aspiration I ever had was to be an OB/GYN. This was when I was 12 and continued through until I turned 14, I think. Whatever age I decided rockstar/taxi driver/model/cop/teacher probably wasn't going to happen (I might be the only girl who lived through the early '90s without ONCE wanting to be a marine biologist). I knew nothing of holistic medicine in the modern world. I just knew that women's bodies and their capabilities were FASCINATING, and I wanted to be someone who knew all there was to know about them.
First blow to this dream: someone told me how long school would take to become a doctor. Holy intimidation for a 14 year old, Batman. Also my grandparents were pretty discouragey, which I know NOW is their tactic for figuring out whether you REALLY want to do something, but is a really stupid idea if you're talking to a kid who has been conditioned to acquiesce to whatever you say in most cases, to make problems disappear. Really. Stupid idea.
Second blow: I hated Chemistry. Took it in high school, didn't really pay attention because I was talking to friends, and I'd been able to do really well in other classes without paying attention, so was UTTERLY SURPRISED that this strategy didn't work. I got good grades, but I retained next to nothing. Took it again freshman year of college, and...didn't pay attention, or didn't show up. The class was at 8am or something and I was IN COLLEGE in a SUPER FUN HALL where we DIDN'T GO TO SLEEP UNTIL 4AM OMG. All my pre-med friends (who liked chemistry in general) were absolutely miserable in their organic chemistry courses.
Medicine did not seem like a realistic option for me.
So I became an accountant, through a few twists and turns and several full-time jobs and evening classes. And now I'm an accountant! And I really like it! As long as I'm working for an organization I believe in, I love it.
But recently I've been all, "I want to be a midwife. Why didn't I become a doctor in the first place? Nevermind I don't want to be a doctor. BUT MAYBE I DO I HAVE NO IDEA." And on and on. Here's what you need to do in the state of Maryland to practice as a midwife:
-Become an RN (2 year program and a qualification test)
-Get a masters in nursing, midwifery specialty (so continue on for bachelors in nursing, then additional year or two for masters)
-Have an obstetrician sponsor you or something
-A zillion hours of clinical work
-Continuing education to maintain license
-Then I guess there's a residency period, maybe? Something like that?
So. Color me intrigued. Because here's what I want:
-To practice as a midwife
-And an herbalist
-And maybe an acupuncturist
-And dietary advisor
-Et cetera, blahblahblah natural living consultant
-Hopefully to affect legislature to make this ish more available to people
-While working on that, providing the care in areas that are usually neglected or can't afford it because it isn't covered by standard insurance
In a dream world, I'd immediately start a nursing program, become an RN, work as an RN while finishing my BSN and then MSN and getting lots of hours of experience. Then, once working as a midwife, taking herbalism and acupuncture classes, among others.
Yesterday, The Foliage and I went to an information session at Montgomery College, whose nursing campus is only 2 metro stops from our house. Score! Classes are super cheap, too, which is obviously handy. But there are a few drawbacks:
-There is one prereq Biology class I'd need to take to even apply
-Then there are 2 Biology classes that, if I were to complete them before applying, would increase my chances of being accepted
-I'd have to get SO MANY SHOTS. OMG. I haven't even heard of most of these things, and the ones I have heard of, I'm vehemently opposed to having in my system. I am super crazy anti-flu shot. Completely. And I'd have to get paperwork from a doctor each year saying I've had one, just so I can go to classes. It seems nuts to me that I'd need to subscribe to the western medical model to be allowed to practice holistic care, but LOLZ that's the system in Maryland. This idea also makes me nervous about doing 5 years' worth of schooling. How do I stay motivated to take classes that teach things I don't believe? Tough one for sure.
-The schedule. Is crazar. I'd definitely have to quit my job. For example, in the first semester, one of the classes is a 4-hour lecture, accompanied by a once-a-week 10-hour clinical shift in a hospital. And there are no genuine evening classes. At all.
-Along those lines, say I've given birth and then I start the program a couple months later. How does one pump breast milk every few hours when one is serving an intense clinical shift, during which one is supposed to be making a fabulous impression with the staff to hopefully get a nursing job upon graduation?
Half of my brain is saying, "If you want to make a change, then make it! There is no time like the present. You'll only regret the time you wasted waiting for the moment to be perfect if you don't act." The other half is all, "DO YOU THINK MONEY GROWS ON TREES?! How about babies? Because those grow IN you and then they feed ON you and you're seriously going to spend the years you plan to be knocked up and breastfeeding in college? When you've already graduated once??" and also general discouraging-about-curriculum-type thoughts.
All valid points, self. Way to be multi-faceted.
I think for now, I'll try out biology. And see how it goes. I know plenty of people who have switched or started careers later on in their lives...but I'm the first I know of in my peer group. So. Kind of trying to feel my way along and stay excited about the opportunities and just swallow the terror.


Kinzie Ferguson said...

Hey lady! So, I don't know much about this, so I could be completely wrong, but have you looked into what it takes to become a doula? I know several people (including Zan) who are going into doula training or who are doulas, so I'm sure they could speak to the amount of school/training/experience/etc that is needed. But it might be another thing to look into.

I think it's really cool that you're considering all of this. We need to keep making sure that every day we are making the best choices for us and for our families. <3

Aheitman said...

Please do not ever go into the world of medicine. Your stance on vaccinations alone should disqualify you, but I think your gross ignorance of science will come in first...

A-train said...

sounds like someone got a double dose of the jerk vaccine today


Jo said...

I'm an intern at a hospital this year and MANY of them are anti flu-shot. That doesn't make you crazy or unable to work in medicine. It makes you autonomous and possessing of critical thought.

Now: I was hopping over to say what Kinzie said. My good friend in NY is a doula, and she LOVES it. It's a good way to dip your foot in and figure out if you want it.

I'm at once comforted and freaked out by the degree of training that midwives receive. (I'm planning to go that route with our kid(s).)

Amanda said...

As someone who started a second degree after I had graduated already, I can only encourage you to follow your dreams, and maybe find your own way.
Your post made me think of a discussion I once had with our homeopath (I think I was 14 at the time) about the apparently opposed views of western medicine and other "alternative" approachs. He told me well, the human body is the same, so there are no "2 kinds of medicine", just different ways of looking at it. Like that metaphor where we are little ants looking at an elephant from above or the sides.... there are just different angles.
I am a biologist / veterinarian, and I think it will not *hurt* you to take those courses that you a priori do not agree with, because they will give you a better understanding. I was "weird" in high school in that I always loved chemistry, but I think it has a lot to do in the way they explain it to you, or the way you understand it. I had a super good professor who explained chemical reactions and catalysors, and such things in terms of crowded parties... etc.
I say go for it, maybe you will be surprised enjoyig such things as physiology (I personally find fascinating the way living organisms work).... and this will only help you be a better midwife / carer .