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  1. #21
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    I am an INFJ and a physician, just finishing up residency now. I have an interesting story that really reflects how our personality type impacts our learning and working style as well as the specialty that we thrive best in.

    Anyway, as a med student, I was all about the "save lives, save the sickest people." I guess I didn't use enough sensing function in making my decision, and ended up choosing anesthesiology for my specialty. Before you start anesthesiology you have to do internship as an internal medicine intern for a year. LOVED internship--lots of connections with patients, lots of discussion with colleagues working towards the common goal of doing as much as possible for the patient, lots of harmonious teamwork. I also got to teach med students. There were so many rewarding moments; my job gave my life so much meaning.

    Well, then i went on to start my anesthesia residency. WHOO!! vigilance vigilance and more vigilance; even though I got along well with everyone, I always felt an undercurrent of an adversarial dynamic between anesthesia and surgery, between the OR nursing and anesthesia (nursing sucks up to the surgeons at the expense of anesthesia), it was like it was me vs. everyone else. Even the surgeons had their "team" and worked together as a team. Patient is asleep, and even when they wake up they still have meds on board that make them forget and act loopy, everything was pushed to be rush rush rush but at the same time I was trying to be an ultra-perfectionist so as not to kill anyone and to do justice to the patients. so long story short, boy was I stressed. I started wondering why i went to med school in the first place, that i would have been happier flipping burgers at the nearby Wendy's. My work was no longer meaningful to me in the least. a few months in, I started feeling physically ill, wiped out, depressed. My favorite parts of my job were working in the preop eye clinic, where I actually got to bond with the patients for like 10 min (but then never to see them again) and when the patient was waking up.

    After about 4 months of that hell, I started working on transferring back to internal medicine, took me another 2 months to actually make the switch. Even though internal medicine has had its long hours, 30 hour shifts, etc. I have to say, i was NEVER as stressed in internal medicine as I was in anesthesia. I have been soooo much happier and again find my job meaningful and my life worthwhile.

    At one point after I made the switch, i read the MBTI preferences for certain medical specialties, and it said infj tends to be happiest doing internal medicine or neurology. Anesthesiology apparently is better preferred among sensing types. Makes a lot of sense, in retrospect.

    Things to keep in mind, going through the world of medicine as an INFJ:
    --you are going to be evaluated by a lot of extroverted sensing types. They will not always understand you, nor will they be interested in trying to understand you. They judge you by whatever you tell them, and they want you to take initiative in telling them what you did, what you thought, etc, selling your ideas. Doing all this is unnatural for the INFJ and REALLY saps our energy trying to. I just came to terms with the fact that some of my evaluators will just underappreciate me and I can live with that, as long as I did justice in caring for my patients and in teaching my interns/medstudents.

    --as a corollary to the above, I have tended to sacrifice efficiency/quickness for the sake of spending time listening to the patient, making sure I thought thoroughly through my patient's complaints and what might be going on with them, and making sure I addressed as much as I could for them. It just made my job more meaningful to me, to do so. I think this was the INFJ in me. The side effects of this are as follows:

    a) your hours will be MUCH longer than those of your non-INFJ peers, because the workload is geared for superficiality and lack of caring. I was ok with the longer hours because I hated being rushed and I wanted my work to be meaningful for me. However, towards the end of residency I am feeling quite burnt out and needing a few years of "me time" to recharge. I also ended up gaining quite a few pounds because on most of my harder months I would really have no time to work out, and when i did have a day off, I would need it to recharge from the energy sapping ES world of medicine.

    b) your non-INFJ/INFP evaluators will call you slow/inefficient and give you criticisms of this in your evaluations. I could care less; my work is about the patient not about them or me.

    c) the people you supervise might be annoyed for their longer hours and for the perfection you seem to demand from them (and you will get in trouble for causing them to break work hour rules). As I progressed in residency, I adjusted my leadership to first explore how my "underlings" approached their medical practice style, and if they were the kind who would rather do things superficially and leave early, I let them as long as they did their responsibilities. If they were similar to me, being detailed, spending lots of time with the patient, addressing all their issues, and loving it, then I would back off and just let them do their thing but still supervise and remain available if they want me to help (i.e. I wouldn't be hovering over their heads rushing them out). Obviously, I appreciated those who fell in the latter category much more and it showed in their evaluations.


    --you will be slightly different from most of your colleagues. Your oral presentations wont be the most eloquent ever, will tend to be full of details that others dont want to hear at which point you wont know what to tell them. Oh well, I lived. People will not always want to hear you out because of the lack of eloquence, but if not they end up regretting it because they missed out on some crucial details and some valuable outside-of-the-box thoughts. I have worked with some very eloquent people and I admire them so much, but I've come to accept the fact that i will never have that talent.

    --your notes will be AMAZING. I've always gotten rave reviews about my notes. Basically the way I see it is, documentation is crucial for the following reason: letting other members of the team (primary team and consultants) as well as any future doctors taking care of the patient, know exactly what is going on with the patient, what your thoughts were, and what you did for the patient, in order to help them continue that good work, come up with new ideas, or help in their decisionmaking. What you say lasts in people's memory for like 2 minutes, and not everyone will be present to hear that. What you write is for posterity and for all to see.


    So in summary, yes INFJs are doctors. Sure there are challenges in getting through the ES world of medicine and medical training, but ultimately i think it's easier for us to persevere despite those challenges because we dont care so much about "fitting in" and impressing our evaluators. We do this for a purpose, to add meaning to our lives through good patient care. And as long as we do justice to this purpose, we are happy. Just be careful about picking an appropriate medical specialty for yourself.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by slumdogtrillionaire View Post
    The Grand chameleon sure id say if you're so determined. move into bureaucracy and influence health policy on a countrywide scale rather than one patient at a time! its less painful less upfront and wider reaching. ofcourse if u want hands on experience there are ways other than going through the entire mbbs md facs and f*cks lol
    Actually I'm starting to consider this type of thing, like impacting medicine through research, or wide-ranging impact through a public-health type of role (e.g FDA/CDC physician, etc). I never envisioned myself being a no-name primary care physician in the community changing the world one patient at a time. Too insignificant of an impact.

  3. #23
    Junior Member sunnyraining's Avatar
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    That was a great post(s) workaholisanon and in my opinion a very accurate insight into the world of medicine for the INFJ

  4. #24
    Senior Member Drezoryx's Avatar
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    workaholicsanon@ the details of the profession you've provided are totally invaluable! the op out here is hugely lucky to get your feedback i'm sure. its unbiased, from the same personality type and based on real experience.

    thanks too for validating some of my original intuitive feelings btw guys totally unrelated but im going to come on national tv as a legal panelist among many experts commenting on recent changes to education policy by the government of india impacting high schools in india and the political ramifications of that! im super excited about that

  5. #25

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    @workaholics: thanks (wow!) for a very insightful post. just what i was looking for. it's the infj & medicine 101! really appreciate it! hopefully a lot of other people will benefit from the post as well (and not just one person

    ..i know what you mean about not feeling the "impact" being great enough when just treating "one patient at a time." i wonder why this is... i feel the same thing rather strongly, and it's keeping me somehow away from medicine... (and keeping me still in wider work fields for exerting idealistic influence, like social work, writing, activismówith their own attached problems, as expanded upon above.) but really, why is that? why are infj's like that? how can changing someone's life be "too insignificant"? must be some visionary thing...

    anywho, thanks to all for their invaluable insights! and slumdog, good luck with your panel discussion!
    "It is only in folk tales, children's stories, and the journals of intellectual opinion that power is used wisely and well to destroy evil. The real world teaches very different lessons, and it takes willful and dedicated ignorance to fail to perceive them."

    - Noam Chomsky

  6. #26
    Senior Member Drezoryx's Avatar
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    ah thanks intuitiveadrenalinejunkie ! its done, what a sensory experience!!

  7. #27
    Senior Member mochajava's Avatar
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    @Workaholics - fabulous post! I'd want you as my doc and not some crazy ES who won't give me the time of day!

    @OP - what about public health? Lots of different skillsets you could use to help people and improve their health / save lives.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by workaholicsanon View Post
    I am an INFJ and a physician, just finishing up residency now. ......
    Awesome post. No wonder our medicine sucks in this country: the system categorically alienates/rejects INFJs, who make the best natural healers, in several ways.

    I've always suspected I ought to try to get medical care from Catholic or Muslim doctors/hospital systems exclusively, because then I can be more certain of why they got into medicine in the first place. Now I guess I know it's not a wild suspicion. It's 'cuz they are NOT those ES types mentioned that were lured into medicine for all the wrong reasons and systematically fucked up a very delicate practice. So i guess for me, i'll either be administering potential doctors MBTI or asking if they are a healer of God

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    Awesome post. No wonder our medicine sucks in this country: the system categorically alienates/rejects INFJs, who make the best natural healers, in several ways.

    I've always suspected I ought to try to get medical care from Catholic or Muslim doctors/hospital systems exclusively, because then I can be more certain of why they got into medicine in the first place. Now I guess I know it's not a wild suspicion. It's 'cuz they are NOT those ES types mentioned that were lured into medicine for all the wrong reasons and systematically fucked up a very delicate practice. So i guess for me, i'll either be administering potential doctors MBTI or asking if they are a healer of God
    How about moving to China or Taiwan or Singapore, some place where you can integrate Western and Traditional Medical Systems? I know this probably sounds 'way overboard'. But why not? Oh well blame it on this: I recently read about the Kallawaya healers, an itinerant group of healers living in the Andes who after the 'Exposition Universelle' of 1889 were asked to publish a book documenting their herbal knowledge and ultimately, saw their patrimony plundered by unscrupulous industrial groups...

  10. #30
    Senior Member Lily flower's Avatar
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    I don't think that it's the S/N that will be as much of a problem. I will warn you, however, that medical school and especially residency are brutal (and I mean excessively BRUTAL) on anyone who is a feeler. And as an INFJ myself, I know how easy my feelings get hurt. The medical field is dominated by T's who see no problem in daily yelling obcenities, threats and belittling comments at the residents. You have to have an iron shield around your heart to survive with your emotions intact. I know this from close personal experience. If you have ever seen the TV show House, many of the doctors actually treat people worse than he does.
    Last edited by Lily flower; 08-29-2010 at 10:33 PM. Reason: misspelling

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