Worth the Cost? Becoming a Doctor Without Forfeiting Your Soul
“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” Matthew 16:26
Every year some tens of thousands hopeful students apply to medical school. I wonder how many really thought through what they are signing up for. This is the story of my medical journey, how I was happily on my way to obtaining the American Dream until I decided to take seriously Jesus’ command to “Come, follow me.” Before you jump on the medical school bandwagon, the four-year, one-hundred-thousand dollar question you should be asking is, “Is it all worth it?”
This book is about my journey to becoming a doctor. It is a reflection on the values of this world, the state of healthcare, and what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus. Out of obedience to God’s calling, I ended up choosing Family Medicine, one of the least respected specialties, to serve the uninsured. After finishing my training, I decided to work part-time (making even less), enrolled into seminary (actually paying money), and got more involved in church ministry (not being paid at all).
In Part I of the book, I will talk about some major reality checks that I experienced going through the process. Hopefully it will help those interested in medicine think through their own unique gifting and calling, their motives for applying to medical school, and the actual costs involved in pursuing this career. I found that this path will demand of you not just your money and peak years of life. If you let it, it will consume your soul.
For those with a burden to serve God with any future vocation (I’m simply using medicine as a case study), Part II will address the question “What now?” What should you be doing now during your training so that when you are actually on the other end, ready to do God’s work, you still want to?
Lastly, in Part III I will highlight some common barriers to embracing the calling that God has for us. It is an exhortation not to settle for a meaningless, self-centered life. Many start off with great intentions only to be side-tracked chasing the empty promises of this world.
If you join me in this adventure, you might laugh. Maybe cry, but probably not. My hope, though, is that in reading, you will pray. And not just pray “God, please get me into medical school.” Pray that our God, who desires that we partner alongside with him in his salvation plan, would give us wisdom in deciding what to do with our lives.
Strategic students know that today’s decisions lead to tomorrow’s reality. When truth is truth it applies in all contexts. While Dr. Tsai emphasizes his lessons learned as a student of medicine, these insights of wisdom apply to all believers who happen to be students.
Nick Yphantides, MD
Chief Medical Officer, San Diego County