Recently at an interview for an attending Ob/Gyn post, the interviewer articulated my accolades. After meticulously reviewing my life’s highlights, he proceeded to say “Dr. Arumala, what do you think made you so successful?”
I paused… Successful? Am I “successful?” My mind panned back to the moment in 3rd year of medical school when panic was teetering on setting in. What was I going to do with the rest of my life? I sorta thought being a skin guru to the stars aka a dermatologist of sorts was pretty cool. I, however, cringed at the thought of full body exams on 72 year old men. I kept thinking about my friends, cousins, aunties. I could be their doctor… I could be the person who addressed the needs of women who looked like me and had issues I had.
I remembered how much I love surgery. How quickly I picked up skills that needed manual dexterity. I am very meticulous. I was on to something. Women. Vulnerable women! Confidant! Teacher! Surgeon! All these things made sense. Ob/Gyn made sense!
I was so excited! I called my mother who is also a physician. Pregnant with the good news, I ignored all punctuation and rambled on making a case for why dermatology isn’t for me and How I want to pursue Ob/Gyn. My momma allowed me to talk until I was breathless. Then she retorted in an even keel Nigerian accent, “you know Ob is hard ba?” I must have completely forgotten how tired and worn out the ob/Gyn residents looked during my rotation. Then she said the one thing that pierced my soul, “and you know they wear scrubs all the time.” If you are aware, I am a fashionista at heart and my clothes are my babies.
After the miniature jabs my mum took at my new found passion, I took the time to research my field. The question every residency interview presents “why ob?” Ob/Gyn for me is a means to fulfill my personal life calling. To provide evidence based care to women at their most vulnerable periods from fertility to STIs to cancer diagnoses to delivery of a child. I wanted to be that physician that was a friend, teacher, associate, surgeon, obstetrician all neatly wrapped up in one! That is why I am an Obstetrician/ Gynecologist.