So I made it through my dental internship unscathed. In fact, it turned out much better than I ever expected. Never did I seriously think that I would emerge from it with my decade old question answered. What do I mean? What I'm trying to say is that I may just be on the way to becoming a "dentoboist". Get it? Dentist AND Oboist.
I don't think that things would have worked out this way several years ago. But hey, the past is the past. I've been telling myself that there really is no predestined path in life, that we must make it as we go. Right now this choice makes way better sense than anything else I've come up with. Yes, Medicine was secretly my dream job. But nowadays I liken it to a beautiful Monet painting which someone has desecrated by cutting into it with a knife and writing over it with a red permanent marker. It's a wonderful vocation that has been tainted by the insurance companies, litigation, etc. Dentistry is more like a pretty watercolor that is framed in lovely wood and hung perfectly centered. It doesn't draw you in immediately but once it does you find beauty and serenity in it.
If you can't already tell I am very critical of pretty much everything. I guess it's my little bit of OCD. Yet last week I was unable to find any glaring defects in the profession that I was investigating. The people I met were all ideal colleagues. They were intelligent yet not snobbish. All were charismatic. I will never forget my impression when we first visited the undergraduate clinic (where the 3rd and 4th year students practice). It felt like something out of a movie. The set up was reminiscent of cubicle land because there are many stations side by side like that. However everywhere I looked I saw harmonious interactions going on between teachers and students, students and students, and students and patients. Everyone (even the patients!) was smiling. It was such a wonderfully cooperative environment that I expected for them to go into a spontaneous rendition of "Kumbayah" at any moment. Of all the things I saw this week that had the biggest impact. The environment was precisely the type of environment I envisioned whenever I thought of an ideal career.
Other things I liked:
I am sure that some of my impressions may have been specific to Columbia so I will need to look into the other schools as well.
I am trying very hard not to over think this (like what happened with medicine). I felt wonderful the entire week that I was there and immensely enjoyed the hands-on activities (we carved out some fake teeth and worked on a dental simulator). I don't think that I should tempt fate by looking for something even better when I was unable to find any big negatives with this.
As I've said before I already have my true passion and that hasn't changed. Music and my little oboe are still my big passion. I'm now convinced that however long and painful my journey of self-discovery has been, everything is now working out for the best. I had to find my oboe passion first because it has helped me learn a lot about myself. It also freed me up to think about my career in a more objective fashion. Before I was expecting my career to satisfy my every need. I am now better able to take a look at my needs without emotional baggage getting in the way. Now I have my music passion on the one side and I also have a need to find a career that incorporates science, community service, and teaching while not taking over my life. I think I can definitely enjoy a dental career yet keep it in perspective; I will be able to give it as much space as it needs but can back off after that. This should allow me to still pursue my musical goals (though it might be hard for a couple of years). In the end I am fairly confident that I can become a successful and happy dentoboist.