Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Parenting Pointers: How to Raise a Doctor

Nine out of every 10 parents would encourage their child to pursue a future in medicine. Yet at the same time, many parents are unsure of how to encourage and foster this in a positive and nurturing way. But it isn’t just encouraging a child to be a doctor that parents desire, it is to mold them into being leaders. How can parents do this in a positive way? What are the challenges for parents?

Dale Okorodudu, MD, is a Pulmonary & Critical Care Physician, and author of the new book, How to Raise a Doctor: Wisdom From Parents Who Did It! Drawing from his experience in guiding students to medical school as co-founder of PreMedSTAR.com, (an online community where notable medical schools recruit medical students), along with interviews and meetings with over 75 parents of physicians, Dr. Dale has written a book that will inform parents how to guide their children along the medical path, or any pathway of leadership. The book serves as a how to guide and offers candid insights, guidance, and antidotes from parents who raised both doctors and leaders.  I had a chance to interview him to learn more.

Why do so many parents have ambitions for having their children become doctors?
The medical field is unique in that society portrays doctors as both prestigious and noble. In the 21st century, this combination is rather rare. Carrying the title doctor provides immediate credibility and opens doors. What mother or father wouldn’t want these opportunities for their child? While the field is not perfect, it remains among the best.

What can be the disadvantages of having this as a goal?
Without question, the biggest concern of parents should be pushing their children into career fields they won’t be happy with. In How to Raise a Doctor, I share a few results from a survey I conducted on over 75 parents of physicians. The majority of parents did not intentionally raise their child to become a doctor. These individuals identified a passion and gift in their children, then dedicated time, resources, and love to ensure their children would be successful. Parents must understand that mental health conditions such as depression have a higher incidence in the medical field. You do not want to push your children into this field if it isn’t what they truly want.

What are some other promising healthcare careers?
In today’s world, there are many excellent healthcare careers. With the shortage of physicians, one of the most exciting segments are mid-level providers such as Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. These fields offer a similar (not identical) approach to patient care, and often don’t come with quite as much baggage such as years spent in training.
Tomorrow’s world will be different. With the advent of new technologies daily, including many artificial intelligence modalities, the role of the doctor may be drastically different for the next generations. This being the case, it is imperative that parents ensure their children are critical thinkers and emotionally intelligent. In my opinion, today’s youth need to spend more time in two areas; computer science and liberal arts. 

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