I have a high school student shadowing my floor team this week. Part of a program for young people who aspire to go into medicine. They apparently got to choose between following an internal medicine team or a surgery team for the week. There's some down time, so I start talking to the guy.
"I want to be a neurologist," he says.
"That's great. What makes you interested in neurology?"
"I want to do brain surgery."
"You know neurologists don't do brain surgery, right? Neurosurgeons do. Brain surgery is a surgical specialty. Internal medicine doesn't do surgery."
"Shoot. Seriously? Then what do you do?"
"We prescribe medication. We make diagnoses. We try to figure out what's going on with the patient, and what to do to treat them. But if they need surgery, we refer them to a surgeon."
"So I chose totally wrong?"
"Not necessarily-- neurology is really interesting. You're dealing with stroke victims, a lot of neurological diseases, Alzheimer's, I think it's one of the more fascinating internal medicine specialties."
"But I'm not going to get to watch you cut anyone open?"
"No. That's what the surgeons do."
"I can't believe I messed this up."
"Maybe you'll be surprised, and by the end of the week you'll really be interested in what we do on the internal medicine side of things."
"Does it get more interesting than it's been this morning?"
"You've only been here an hour!"
"And all you've done is talk to people."
"That's what we do."
"No one even died yet."
"We're hoping they don't."
"I thought I was going to see people shot in the head."
"Do you want me to see if you can follow surgeons instead?"
"That would be awesome."
"I'll see what I can do."