My Journey to Medicine: Ben’s Story

Sometimes our dreams evolve but the goal remains the same. Read about Dr.Ben Hayes' journey from childhood dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon to the unexpected yet fulfilling path of internal medicine.
  • Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
  • I vividly remember sitting on the living room floor with my dad, using Styrofoam and Play-Doh to make a model brain, then coloring and labeling the lobes based on what we read in the encyclopedia.  These were the elementary days of my journey as a child, wanting to be a neurosurgeon, naïve to the realities of what that entailed. 

    Balancing Passion and Curiosity

    This would be the first of the healthcare-related science projects I undertook. I simply enjoyed learning about anatomy and physiology. Being a doctor was the natural choice and everyone who heard my dream was encouraging.

    I remember another science fair project a few years later that posed a bit of opposition to my desire to become a doctor. While parents visited the presentations, my classmate’s mother, a physician herself, asked, “Are you sure you want to be a doctor? You will be in school for a long time.”

    What is wrong with that? I thought to myself. School was all I knew and I enjoyed school. Little did I know what she was referring to at the time.

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    Navigating the M.D. Journey

    The journey had begun before I knew what the journey was. My parents helped guide me through experiences that cultivated my interests. I could envision myself as a doctor when I grew up. As I got older the experiences matured, but the innocent naivety remained.

    I remember shadowing in an emergency room watching an attempted lumbar puncture on a toddler, clueless to the implications. The physician could not obtain the cerebrospinal fluid and I simply thought that meant there was no fluid present. I did not realize the purpose was to run diagnostic tests on the fluid, rather than to assess for the presence of fluid, and inability to obtain fluid was not an uncommon challenge.

    Despite limited knowledge, I still enjoyed learning and observing, as the journey continued. Through summer programs and extracurricular activities, I got to have fun with medicine, like suturing up a banana as I envisioned a career as a surgeon.

    Further Reading

    How to Make Your Experiences As a Pre-Med Count for Your Medical School Application

    👥 The Premed’s Complete Guide to Shadowing

    When it came time to apply to college, I knew I wanted to go to a school with a strong premed reputation and I was fortunate to have good options. The premed courses challenged me, while the long-term goal helped me stay motivated to fulfill my childhood dream.

    The naivety had begun to fade by now, yet I still did not fully grasp what was to come in medical school and residency. The plethora of specialty choices added a layer of complexity beyond simply, “being a doctor.”

    With the childhood dream still alive, I initially applied to surgery residency programs. After not matching into surgery, I completed a transitional year residency which gave me time to re-evaluate my purpose and desires in medicine. Fortunate to have many great counselors in this season, I ultimately found clarity to pivot and pursue a career in internal medicine.

    The journey has been anything but predictable and I have grown in ways I would have never known to seek out. I did not become the surgeon that child dreamed of. Instead I am fulfilled by the opportunity to share in patients’ lives and build meaningful relationships while helping guide them through health challenges. 

    Benjamin Hayes, MD is a Primary Care Internal Medicine author at Rosh Review/Blueprint Prep.

    Everyone’s journey in medicine looks different, but they all start with the MCAT and applying to medical schoolBlueprint MCAT can help you at every stage of your journey with free MCAT resourcesMCAT courses, and medical school admissions consulting.

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