My brother’s quest for becoming an orthopedic surgeon (Part I)

A few years ago I had a discussion with my brother ultimately helping him to become clear of his goals as well as overcome his Shadow Hounds. I have told this story in my lectures and workshops and since I have had a lot of requests to put it on my blog I am finally giving in. The story will be told in two parts – Part I (becoming clear about what it is that you want) and Part II (overcoming Shadow Hounds). This is the first part:

My brother Steven was stuck in a dead-end position as an ER surgeon in a hospital in Austria, right outside of its capital Vienna. He hated his job, the hours, the pay, and the colleagues; to put it short: it was living hell for him.
He always wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon, but since orthopedic surgery is the most difficult program to get into in Austria, he wasn’t lucky enough to secure a residency so he kept working in the ER, content with simply having a job and thus money in his pocket (even though he disliked every minute of it).

One day, when my brother’s frustration levels reached unbearable heights, he called me in the US and the following hour long conversation unfolded:

Steve: I hate my job, I cannot stand it anymore.
Q: Well, then quit your job and find something new.
Steve: But I do not know what to do.
Q: I thought you wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon?
Steve: Yes, I do, but there is no chance in hell for me to get into that program.
Q: If you had a say in this, where would you want to train as an orthopedic surgeon?
Steve: Anywhere! It doesn’t matter where! As long as I can become a fully qualified orthopedic surgeon, I will be a happy man.
Q: Hmm, anywhere?!
Steve: Yes, absolutely – anywhere!
Q: OK, how about Australia? What if the recruiter called you and offered you a position in Oz? (My brother worked with international medical recruiters and placement agencies as many, also highly developed countries, are suffering from a shortage of medical doctors).
Steve: Phew, Australia?! Wow! That is truly far away. I really don’t know if I could move to Down Under.
Q: OK, I understand. Oz is indeed far from Austria. How about coming to the US and living with me? Wouldn’t that be great!?
Steve: O yeah! That would be wonderful! But then I would have to take all of my exams again as the US does not accept any other country’s medical degree. That would be too cumbersome for me.
Q: Understood. Fair point. How about South Africa? You love South Africa. The weather is great. The people are lovely.
Steve: Hmm. I don’t know. South Africa is also quite far away. And I have heard that the work conditions can be rather challenging depending on in which hospital you end up working at.
Q: OK, OK! Let’s forget about the rest of the world and just focus on Europe. How about England? They need doctors, pay is great and you know the country pretty well. What do you think?
Steve: Well, phew, I don’t know what to think of this one. It is always raining up there and the Brits can be quite funny…
Q: How about Scandinavia? You like those countries, don’t you?
Steve: Yes sure, but it is so cold up there. You get drowned in snow for half a year. I don’t know if I can handle that.
Q: No worries, let’s get closer to home. How about Germany? There wouldn’t be a language barrier for you at all, work conditions are great, pay is great and it is pretty close to home. What do you think?
Steve: Yes, sounds like a good option. Hmm, let me think about it. You know, I really don’t know how to put it, but I simply cannot picture myself living in Germany. It might be too structured and too organized, and…
Q: OK, stop it! Screw all the countries out there…let’s stay in Austria. What do think?
Steve: Now we are talking! Cool! That feels good to me!
Q: OMG! We are getting somewhere here! Finally! Let’s say a hospital in the western parts of Austria called you and offered you a job, would you take it?
Steve: Oomph, well, you know, the western parts are so different from the rest of the country. They are almost Swiss over there. I can barely understand what they are saying.
Q: How about the southern parts? A hospital near the Italian border?
Steve: Those people are funny, too. I don’t want to live there, period.
Q: Well, brother, we have been talking for an hour now and there is only one place left – how about working in Vienna itself?
Steve: That would be magnificent! I would love it! It would be ideal! But I already told you that I have applied to all the important hospitals and all of them have told me that there is no chance for me to get a residency. Unless my dad was the director of a hospital or we knew the mayor of Vienna, I should not bother to call them back for another five years.
Q: My dear brother, I did not ask you what the hospitals told you and/or what your presumed chances were in getting into a program. I only asked you where you wanted to work. That’s it! So, let’s get back to work again. Is there a hospital that you specifically like in Vienna?
Steve: Sorry brother, I did not mean to nag and complain. Well, there are two hospitals that I like – both are great!
Q: What if hospital A called you up tomorrow and offered you a job? Would you take it?
Steve: Absolutely!
Q: Cool! But what if hospital B called you after you had accepted the position with hospital A, would you accept B’s position and dump A?
Steve: Right away! Without a doubt!
Q: Wow! So you are telling me that out of the whole wide world we are now down to ONE hospital in the city of Vienna, your hometown?
Steve: Well, if you put it that way – yes ;) But I already had two interviews with the chief surgeon there and he told me both times that I have absolutely no chance of getting into the program there…you know that.
Q: Brother, I know that, yes! But, again, all I wanted to know from you was, where you ideally wanted to work, that’s all…

Needless to say, that in the end and only about five weeks after our talk my brother ended up working at that hospital – by the way Europe’s biggest orthopedic hospital. How he ended up there – even though we do not know the mayor of Vienna – I will unveil in Part II.

I hope this story put a smile on your face and brought you some direction for your own journey.

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8 Responses to “My brother’s quest for becoming an orthopedic surgeon (Part I)”  

  1. 1 Caity

    Haha, great story!
    And I’m really looking forward to hearing the second part cause I have some specific company I wanna work for, too, and I really hope I’ll be able to follow your brother’s example ;D

    Hope you had a great New Year! :D

  2. 2 Elodie Jones

    Can’t wait for Part Deux!

  3. 3 Alexia

    Wonderful story Can’t wait to read the second story..

  4. 4 Jason

    That somehow reminds me of how I got my first job … I applied for several ones and then was disappointed because the one of the companies I really wanted to work for didn’t respond, though almost every other wanted to see me for a personal interview.
    I guess being a bit more honest with ourselves would make our lives – and decisions! – a lot easier :)

    Looking forward to the end of the story!

  5. 5 meaghan

    Great story!
    It is funny, how imprecise our wishes are and how long it takes sometimes to find out what we really want! And how helpful it is, to have someone who asks you like you asked your brother! In some parts it could have been me – your brother, not you of course!:-)!
    I can´t wait to read part two!

  6. 6 Elizabeth

    Reading your brother’s responses, prompted recognition of the trait in myself and several friends who unconsciously react this way. Most of us are unaware that our own energy is placing ‘No Entry’ signs in our way.
    Okay, Hitchcock, so when will Part II appear?

  7. 7 Hilary Smith

    Cool page. When will I get the rest information?

    Hilary Smith

  1. 1 My brother’s quest for becoming an orthopedic surgeon (Part II) « Naked Healer's Blog
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