Growing up with 2 doctors as parents

Photo of optometrist office
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People are shaped by their childhood experiences and by their families. For me, both of my parents are doctors, so several aspects of my life have been affected by being surrounded by people who practice medicine. Where I grew up, it was uncommon for mothers to work and even less common for both parents to be doctors, so when I met people in a similar situation as me, we could relate to a lot of things. Here is my experience of what it was like to be raised by two doctors.

You only go to the doctor in extreme situations

I learned to take care of myself without medicine or a doctor. My parents would tell me to put a hot pack on it, compress it with a bandage, disinfect it, ice it and tape it. Drink water, get more sleep and eat protein. Growing up playing a lot of sports, whenever I got sprains and pulls, my dad would assess my pain and tell me what to do. There was always a home treatment, and we had a cabinet designated as our in-house hospital kit. When it was more serious, however, such as when I got a fracture from playing basketball, we would immediately go see their colleague orthopedic doctor. My sisters and I would also get our eye exams and medical checkups at our parents’ friends’ clinics.

You feel pressure to become a doctor, but not necessarily from your parents

You have no idea how many times I’ve been asked the question, “So do you want to be a doctor, too?” or heard someone tell my parents, “At least one of them’s gotta be a doctor, right?” My parents always encouraged me and my sisters to explore and pursue what we want to do. That being said, seeing a lot of my parents’ doctor friends sending their kids to medical school definitely makes me at least consider giving it a try myself. Although both my parents and I generally tell questioning friends that I’m not going to medical school, I have definitely felt the pressure.

You grow to be independent

It’s not a lie that my parents are very busy. They work all weekdays, sometimes on weekends and occasionally past midnight with emergency calls. On top of that, they may have medical papers to write along with conferences and symposiums several times a year. While they still make sure to care for their kids whenever they can, I’ve also spent a lot of days and nights at home without parents. I learned at an early age to get ready in the morning by myself (although my mom would always leave breakfast prepared on the kitchen table) and come back from school to an empty house. I grew to be independent, and I also grew closer to my sisters while prepping meals, cleaning the house together and keeping each other entertained.

It may be hard to receive career advice from your parents

My parents had straight career paths since high school. Once they decided to be doctors in their teens, there was always a set guideline and formula on what they needed to do next. More than 30 years later, they’re still doctors. However, I decided to take an unfamiliar path by choosing a less traditional, flexible major. It was hard to decide on a major, and even now, I have no idea what I’m going to do after graduation, nor what I will be doing in 20 or 30 years. I have many friends around me who receive major, career and job hunting advice from their parents, as their parents went through a similar process. While I receive many inspirational and informational talks from my parents, when it comes to industry career advice, it’s often up to me to seek other sources and make my own decisions.

You pressure yourself to live up to your parents’ success

As I am on a search for my career path, I constantly think that nothing I do will ever compare to the value my parents bring to the world; they save lives on a daily basis. Although my parents tell me that I don’t have to be a doctor to change the world, I still find myself contemplating what I can do in order to positively impact others the way my parents do. Watching my parents do it all — balancing work, family, friends and even hobbies such as playing the guitar and gardening — I put a lot of pressure on myself to make my parents proud. I tend to forget that they’ll be proud of me no matter what.

Growing up with two doctor parents comes with perks such as free stationery from pharmaceutical companies and always being able to get a doctor’s note on hand. Although I often took care of myself and felt pressure from those around me, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. I’m beyond thankful to my parents for raising me and for being my friends, role models, mentors and my own personal doctors. Although every doctor is different and every parent is different, I hope that this article gave you a little glimpse of what it may be like to be raised by two parents who are both doctors.

Contact Euna Jo at [email protected].