Multipotentialite, renaissance person, polymath, slashers…

I recently watched a TED talk by Emilie Wapnick that explored why not everyone has one true calling.

Pressure to find your passion in life

There is this strange expectation to find your one true calling in life. From a young age, children are asked what they want to be when they grow up. You’re expected to pick one answer, and the questions never really end.

In the medical field this questioning continues when you are constantly asked what your plan is. What specialty do you want to be?

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The skills of a multipotentialite

A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life. Their interests span different fields, and aren’t strong in just one. Those that are mainly interested in one field are called “specialists”.

Idea synthesis, rapid learning and adaptability are the three main skills that multipotentialites possess. Instead of berating yourself for not neatly fitting into a model, why not celebrate your super powers?

The highly specialised field of medicine

Medicine is a profession that breeds specialists. In fact, it can feel like the only path available for a medic is the one straight to specialisation. As the years go on, more niche specialties are created. The human body is broken up into parts, with a person managed by countless different doctors to care for their heart, diabetes, lungs, surgical issues and mind.

There are even subspecialties, for example an orthopaedic surgeon may focus on the hand alone or an endocrinologist who only sees thyroids.

It can be daunting to try foresee which specialty you fit into, and predict if you’ll be happy in it for the rest of your working life.

To become a staff specialist you spend over five years training in that particular field. If you’re committing you’d like to think you’re sure this is what your willing to do for the long term. Changing specialties is possible, but it can be quite difficult to make that leap. You often need to start from the beginning again.

For an individual who enjoys knowing about a lot of different things, and learning many different skills, it can seem impossible to stick to a medical field.

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Embracing who you are

I think the first thing is to look within and think about who you are as a person. Do you enjoy specialising? Does it bring you joy to know about one particular thing and dedicate your time to that?

Or do you prefer to spread your attention around?

Instead of trying to fit the mould of what you think you should be, accept how you are now.

I’ve realised that I definitely fit into the multipotentialite category. I am not only a doctor. I paint, I write, I create jewellery, dance, learn languages, travel and more. Though my knowledge in medicine is not as specialised as some, I’m focusing on other things. I’m happy with this choice, and I’m going to continue to explore my interests. It can be a challenge at times at work, when many of your colleagues fit into the specialist box. They may not understand your motives or driving force. Some might question why you don’t spend more of your time on work related matters, when they have no idea about the many amazing side projects you are cultivating outside of the hospital.

So what makes you you?

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Feature Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash