The path from deciding to pursue a career in medicine to realizing the goal is a long, demanding journey. During college, we focus on classes that will prepare us to take a test that measures us against our peers for the highly competitive opportunity to attend medical school. We volunteer, work in research labs, write journal articles and advocate for our communities, not only to show our commitment to our chosen path, but because giving back is in our blood. During medical school, we are exposed to all areas of patient care; we experience happiness with the family having their first baby, we sit and talk to the elderly patient about their life experiences, and we grieve with the family when we experience our first death.
This journey continues when we enter our residency, where we have chosen the area of medicine on which we will focus. We "sleep" in call rooms and scavenge for the lone Cup of Noodles left in the hospital cafeteria at two in the morning. We continue our academic trek, learning from our patients about the area of specialty we want to pursue. After three to eight years, sometimes more, we enter the workforce as a specialist in the area we chose. Sometimes life, family or relationships were put on hold as we walked this path. Now in our early to mid-30s, our journey to our chosen profession is complete.
I've been a physician for more than 20 years. I have experienced countless successes and failures. For example, I’m writing this on a Friday afternoon. It’s been a long week of clinical care and administrative duties. I missed open house at my two youngest kids' school by 20 minutes. After finishing homework with the kids and putting them to bed, I scavenged chicken nuggets out of the air fryer. Sometimes, when a week like this wears us thin, it can feel like we win less than we lose.
But in contrast, this week I helped a family understand and cope with a complex diagnosis for their new baby. I mentored a physician in training, trying to find their own career path. I hired a new physician who will bring their skills to serve the families of the Central Valley. I sat with a teenager who just needed to be heard. The journey changes over time, and we contribute to the health and wellness of our families in different ways as we grow professionally.
The rewards of this career far outweigh the sacrifices. We bring health, wellness and dignity to patients and families in need. We open our hearts and, in turn, families open theirs to us. We strive to bring our best every day, despite the challenges we encounter at work or at home. Medicine truly is a calling, and to those of us who answer the call, we consider it a privilege to serve. On Doctors’ Day, I celebrate all my colleagues who have shared this journey and provide exceptional care to our patients and families. I also celebrate our personal families who understand our commitment to medicine and stand beside us in our mission. A heartfelt thank you goes to our doctors, our nurses, our support staff, and the families who trust us with the health of their children.
Happy Doctors’ Day, and thank you all for being part of my family.
About the Author
Dr. John Kinnison is a board-certified pediatric hospitalist and serves as president of Valley Children’s Specialty Medical Group. Since joining the organization in 2004, Dr. Kinnison has served in a variety of leadership roles, from medical director of clinical partnerships, regional hospitalists and telemedicine programs to medical director of the Guilds Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center. Dr. Kinnison is passionate about educating children and families about health and safety issues, and inspiring local youth to pursue exciting careers in healthcare. In his free time, Dr. Kinnison enjoys spending time with his wife, their four sons and their grumble of pugs. He has an affinity for retro gaming systems and an ever-growing toy collection.