Choosing a Specialty – How I Chose Plastic Surgery | Life of a Surgeon Ep. 12

What’s going on guys? Dr. Jubbal, In this video, let’s go over how I chose medicine
and specifically plastic surgery and what you can learn from it. [music playing] All right guys! So this video
is going to be split up into three parts. Number one, how and why I chose medicine? Number two, how and why I chose plastic surgery? And number three, what you can learn
from my mistakes and what I recommend? So part one, how I chose medicine? Now when I was a middle school,
high school student, I was always fascinated by the human body. I loved reading these, you know,
large colorful books on the brain, and on muscles and just general anatomy
and I loved it. I wasn’t exactly sure I wanted to be a doctor
until college. Now, a little bit of back story. In high school I loved computer science. I was doing a lot of programming. My brother who is a few years older than me was already a computer science major in college. And not to toot my own horn
but I had a knack for programming. There’s a certain way of like logical thinking that you need and I loved it. And I had a lot of fun and I was torn with the idea between doing computer science,
becoming a programmer and doing medicine, becoming a doctor. Now, first year of college
was essentially the time where I was really juggling the two because I had to choose a major. I was undecided at that point. And that’s when I got sick. February of 2009,
which was my second quarter of college, and there were a lot
of other things going on at the time. I got a hell of a lot of family issues
and family financial issues, which combined with the Crohn’s disease flare, again, hardest time in my life. Now, one of the most important factors
in being able to endure a challenging time is having a purpose. Now for me, in my situation, I believed that me getting sick
during this critical time where I was trying to figure out what to do, was the universe or whatever you want to call it guiding me to say, “Hey, you need to be a doctor. You should go into medicine.” Now a lot of you are gonna say,
like, “That’s a total BS! The reason you got sick has nothing
to do with that.” And yeah, it probably doesn’t. But as humans we create–
At least this is my belief that we create meaning and purpose out of
challenging times to help us endure and to help us be resilient. And that’s a tool that I used for myself. So I had gone through a couple– I had gone through three gastroenterologists
that I did not– I was not happy with the care I received. And it made me even more passionate. I’d be like, “Okay, I need to be a gastroenterologist. I need to help people with similar diseases.” I was actually really interested in Pediatric
Gastroenterology because, here’s the other thing, we don’t realize what we’ve got until we lose it. Now that’s with health, that’s with relationships, that’s with family, that’s with a lot of things. This was no different. So one thing that
we all probably take for granted is eating. Now eating is a very social thing, at least in the United States and in my culture, which is, like in college, you will go
and socialize over dinner or over lunch with your friends and then you’re at class and then you’re working
and studying in between. But a lot of socializing is done over food. Now when I was sick,
I had to go on a very strict diet. I was eating like plain… It was like a very elemental diet. Right. So plain rice, no fiber. It was, it was tough. But in that moment, I despised going to
the cafeteria and smelling this delicious pizza
and these hamburgers and, you know, whatever else they had, and watching my friends across
the table eat it and knowing that I could not have it. And that was very challenging for me. I worked through that and I’m totally fine now. But one of the things that I really struggled with was socializing through food. And some of my friendships, you know, felt that strain. And I have learned first hand that,
“Wow! Eating is really important.” Not just for your own health
and nutrition and staying active and you know, recovering from exercise
and things like that. But even your mental well-being,
being able to eat the foods that maybe you want to eat
or that are healthy for you and socializing over food. As an 18 year old male, I understood how
difficult that was for me. And I figured, “Well, that must be
even more challenging for kids ’cause I am already developed in a lot of ways.” I have developed a lot more since I was 18. Don’t worry. But, you know for kids, who are 6, 10,13 that must be so much challenging for them. And for that reason, I wanted
to become a pediatric gastroenterologist. So that’s a doctor, who helps
with GI issues for children. I did some research with IBD and cancer, and I also did some research
with informed consent in pediatric patients. So, making sure that they or their parents
understand the procedure that they’re getting, it’s a very important part of any medical procedure. So now fast-forward to 2nd
and 3rd year of medical school. This was the time where I was actually,
able to get more involved with Pediatric Gastroenterology. And what I learned after shadowing
and rotating on that service and watching a lot of endoscopies is that this is not what I wanted to do. I was, like, “Wait wait. Hold on!” I got to this point, I wanted to become a doctor– I got to this point. “I’m here at medical school because I want
to be a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. What is wrong?” And I learned–
and if I had some deep introspection, beforehand, I’ve already known this, I very much need a technical challenge. And I’m not saying that
Pediatric Gastroenterology and the endoscopies that they do or the other procedures are not technically challenging, but it’s in a completely different league compared to like reconstructive plastic surgery, where you’re taking, using flabs, using– You’re taking one part of the body, moving it to the other part using microscopes
to reconnect the vessels. Completely different, no comparison. Right? Now at that time I didn’t know
what plastic surgery was. In fact, I thought plastic surgery was just,
you know, titties and nose jobs and there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong. But I did not think that,
that would give me fulfillment. So it wasn’t until one of my friends, she actually rotated with plastic-surgery
and I was, like, “Wow! They do some crazy cool reconstructive stuff. Kevin you would love this.” Took her advice
and during my surgery rotation 3rd year, I did plastic surgery, neurosurgery
and orthopedic surgery, thinking that hopefully one of those three
would be a good fit for me. Day one, plastic surgery rotation, I fell in love. I can’t go into the details but essentially,
we had a patient… We took the patient’s latissimus dorsi muscle, which is the, you know, like your pull up muscle. The one that gives the guys the V. We essentially took that, rotated it over, and created a bicep, a makeshift bicep,
out of the latissimus dorsi. That was like Sci-Fi. I was just in awe. I was so excited. It was a seven-hour case. I was wearing dress shoes ’cause this was the first day of my surgery rotation. I didn’t have time to get the proper,
you know, the proper OR shoes. I didn’t leave the room to use the bathroom. I didn’t eat for seven hours. And at the end of that, I was still just so excited. And so just— and just so engrossed
with what was going on in front of me, I fell in love. And I said, “Wow! This is what I need
to be doing for the rest of my life.” After that I rotated with neurosurgery
and orthropedic surgery. Both great specialties. Not for me for various reasons. As I explored plastic surgery further, I learned that there is much more than just cosmetics and burn patients or cleft lip,
cleft palate. There’s, you know, for example, hand surgery. A lot of plastic surgeons can specialize in hand, which is something that I’m very interested in. Micro surgery is another one, where you do complex reconstructions, using microscopes
to reconnect either vessels or nerves, when you’re moving body parts
or doing complex reconstructions. That stuff to me is like Sci-Fi. And that stuff gets me really, really excited. So you guys know why I chose medicine. You guys now know how and why
I chose plastic surgery. Let me tell you what I wish I had done differently. So, the main thing it comes down to is know yourself. Now, that’s going to require
a lot of introspection. That’s going to require a lot of experiences. And the best way you’re gonna learn
what you like and don’t like, is by getting out there. So what I wish I had done in the past,
looking back, is actually spend time with
Pediatric Gastroenterologist. Or even Adult Gastroenterologist,
when I was in college, and when I thought that is what I wanted to do. The earlier you figure out what it is you do
and do not like, the better off you’re gonna be. Know yourself. For me, it’s I need a constant challenge. Being adequately challenged is important
to everyone in having a fulfilling and satisfying career. And for me, that came in a lot of technical and intellectual challenge that plastic surgery had. So figure out what it is you do and do not like. Maybe you really like talking to people at length and having deep discussions and
understanding their inner workings. Maybe psych is good for you
or maybe you really love– I loved– I was interested in ortho
because I loved like the mechanics, and I have a very engineering kind of mindset, and I thought that maybe
that would be a good fit for me. What do you like to do for fun? What do you like about school or your activities? What brings you joy? I think that’s gonna be very helpful in you figuring out what it is you want to do. So, the other way of doing that is getting out there and shadowing
or doing research or just getting out there, and working with those physicians in that field that you are interested in. So, I did clinical research and shadowing
as an undergrad student with stroke patients. And I was a neuroscience major. I love the brain. It was like– still is one of my favorite blocks
from med school. You know, localizing the stroke lesion,
things like that. I think the brain is fascinating. I love the brain. But I learned that it wasn’t just really
the field for me. In medical school, I did clinical research and I was working closely
with a pediatric gastroenterologist. That again gave me a lot more insight
as to what they actually do, and again made me realize it’s not for me. So, the best advice I can give you is get out there. Shadow. Do research, do whatever it is that gets you… in the trenches with the doctor, so that you
actually understand what it is to be a practicing pediatric gastroenterologist, practicing orthopedic surgeon, practicing emergency physician. So ultimately, it comes down to two things, one is understanding your personality, both in a professional setting and outside. What it is that you do and do not like? And then two is getting exposure to those fields
that you are really interested in. That can be through research, through shadowing, etc. So let me know what is your specialty of interest. How did you get there? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment down below. If you liked the video,
make sure you press that like button. Hit subscribe if you have not already and I will see you guys in that next one. [music playing]

79 thoughts on “Choosing a Specialty – How I Chose Plastic Surgery | Life of a Surgeon Ep. 12

  1. compsci >>>
    was a computer science minor in undergrad and it was so much fun

    and so true about knowing yourself!! i originally was a geophysics major bc i was fairly good at it and it was regarded as impressive but two years in i realized i was doing it for the wrong reasons and switched my major to chemistry just before junior year.. was a scary decision but 100% worth it 🙂

  2. I would love to see what you would recommend for people that are preparing to go into the OR. What's important in a shoe? Can I wear a watch?

  3. Hey Dr. J

    My dream is to become an anesthesiologist, cause for some reason I am fascinated with the idea that I will be a support in the shadow( I cringe), who is playing a huge role but does not receive any sort of credit for his/her work. Second, the idea of teamworking really gets my blood boil.
    I am a sophomore in high school, who is right now struggling in chemistry, a subject that I am 100% sure want to major in college. I was wondering if you can give some studying techniques that might help me. Also, can you recommend me some books that might help me get to start with medicine?
    Note: I use the Free Library of Philadelphia overdrive, where I can borrow books for free.

  4. Thank you for the advice. Yes I think shadowing is important but I feel that you need to do some filtering before choosing what specialities to shadow.
    Do you know of any resource that compares the specialties in terms of hours, qualities looked for in doctors, income, etc? Enough to make a first selection.

  5. I have wanted to become a plastic surgeon for years but lately I've been worried I won't be able to take the stress of medical school. I do well in school right now so I know that I can do well in med school, but is it possible to have a life outside of studying while in medical school if you want to go into a specialty as competitive as plastic surgery? I love your videos btw!

  6. Hey Dr Jubbal! Thanks for the great and insightful video! Just wondering, could you share with us about your experience during your Orthopaedic medicine rotation you briefly mentioned? I'm a 1st year medical student who aspires to be an orthopaedic surgeon (just like you initially aspiring to be a Paediatric Gastroenterologist), and I was wondering if it would be the right fit for me.

    Thank you so much! Cheers

  7. thank you for sharing this you motivate me brah! one day i want to get into cardiology and its funny how my high school experiences are very similar to yours

  8. Thank you all for watching! Hope this was helpful in you deciding which specialty you want to pursue. What are your top picks for your future specialty?

  9. This is a great video! Thank you for sharing your story, it was insightful. I’m still in undergrad and I would like to become a plastic surgeon. I really love how plastic surgeons are like masters of the human anatomy and get to use a lot of creativity in most of their procedures. Just like me I see that you put a lot of creativity and time into your YouTube videos. It shows that you pay attention to details and care about design, those are already some good traits, so I know you’ll be a great plastic surgeon!

  10. Love your channel, you're a big inspiration. In a year and half I'm finishing my high school and really want to go to med school. I'm little bit afraid, but nothing gonna stop me. Neurology is something I'd love to do. 🙂

  11. Thanks for sharing you background and experience! I also love Comp Sci and majored in physics before medical school (I attend a Canadian med school). I think reconstructive plastic surgery is amazing, but I've also recently learned a lot about Otolaryngology and especially the oncology/reconstructive side of it. From your experience, would most facial and plastic reconstructive surgeons have a plastics background or ENT? Or would this just be some fine line that depends on the hospital you're in? 
    Thanks again for all your videos, they're a big motivation for me getting through this immunology block right now lol

  12. hi could you tell me if it is at all possible for an international graduate to get into plastic surgery residency with good usmle step 1&2 scores?what else will be required?

  13. I can relate so well to trying to make a decision between two different fields in college. I just graduated, and I’m still trying to figure out if I want to pursue a career in medicine or computer science!

  14. Can you elaborate on what you didn’t like about neuro or what made you not choose it as a specialty? I thought It is also precise like plastics.

  15. Interesting answer for "why medicine?" Did you say the same answer in interviews? (currently going through my med interviews in the UK!)

  16. Why did you feel like Neurology wasn't the specialty for you even though you love the brain. I am currently an undergrad with a major in neuroscience. I also love the workings of the brain and think it's incredibly fascinating. I have ambitions of going to medical school and specializing in Neurology.

  17. Hi , Dr.Kevin, I have just seen your channel by chance and enjoy it. I am a second year resident in pediatric surgery , it is also amazing specialty like plastic surgery.We operate lots of various cases. Burn treatment is common for both of us and I think burn cases are the worst patients I have ever seen but helping them is really satisfactory.what do you think about that issue??

  18. I'm in 3rd year of med school. I can feel what exactly you said. I also want to be in Plastic Surgery. Can you share the procedure for coming up to being a plastic surgeon?? I mean Exams or residency and recommendations??💫💫

  19. What didn't you like about neurosurgery? I just want an insight look, since I know neurosurgery a dream specialty like people perceive it to be.

  20. That was really very good. Congrats on finding what was right for you. Many med. students don't realize how fascinating plastic and reconstructive surgery really is.

  21. I feel like if you could you would specialize in all the specialties huh 😂

    First video and already a subscriber ❤️

  22. I want to be a plastic surgeon , do you have to be good at science? plastic surgeon has always been my dream job

  23. Just came across your videos – they are excellent! I'm a medical student at University of Michigan (finishing up 3rd year) and I'm interested in pursuing surgery myself – thinking about ENT/facial reconstruction vs. Plastic surgery. Can you tell us a little about some of your weaknesses that stood in the way of pursuing this speciality and how you overcame it. eg, I am worried that I am not able to develop the hand-eye coordination that it takes to be a surgeon. Is this a make or break for me?

  24. My older brother has done computer science and I want to become a doctor too 😊 I got measles during my most important academic year plus in that year I had to visit a gynecologist, dentist and a dermatologist frequently which inspired me a lot to pursue my dream
    Love from India

  25. I think psych would be beautiful but I don't like crazy people lol. Any suggestions Dr. Jubbal? it's like impossible to shadow a psychiatrist due to privacy regulations! I'm only in undergrad by the way…

  26. Just taped into your channel. Great job. Your episodes are a must viewing for my students. We're on a med school bound journey ourselfves. Highly inspiring. Tks again.

  27. Love your videos! So happy I found your channel 💙don’t blame you for not wanting to do endoscopies all day..

  28. This is a really different video now that he has left his plastics residency. Hope he's fulfilled with his next direction as much as he thought he was with plastics at this point.

  29. Hi Dr Kevin Jubbal. Very informative video. We deal with a lot of patients and are always happy to assist where possible, we'll be forwarding your video to a lot of our clients. Thank you for your openness and honesty, always great to see this in our industry

  30. Ik this is a bit unrelated but I get what you’re saying about not being able to eat- I got a tonsillectomy a week ago and I’m still in horrible pain. Christmas was yesterday and as such my entire family was having a awesome Christmas dinner with my favorite foods and I had to sit there eating the one thing I could eat- cranberry sauce- which I couldn’t even taste because of the surgery. It really really sucks so I totally get that.

  31. You’re definitely my role model , I’ve been fascinated with plastic surgery for a while and I have a passion to work hard to become a plastic surgeon. It’s hard to explain but I can’t see my self doing anything else I’ve done some job shadowing with different doctors but noting is like plastics. I’m a senior in high school could you give me some advice what should I start doing my freshman year of college ? Should I attend community college for a year just to save money ? I know it’s very competitive but I want to do whatever I can to make it. Ps love you so much doctor

  32. To be a doctor is really hectic.
    You just wait for the karmas to hit back on you for all the good you have done to others.

  33. This kind of videos reminds me of why I want to study this. For a social circle of no one really knowing or liking the field of medicine but you, it is difficult to discover this kind of cool stuff like the case you did of the muscles. And this gives me courage to keep going.

  34. My grandma has crohn’s disease. We think my brother, cousin, mom and uncle have it though they haven’t been tested. I really hope I don’t get it. Although it’s a pain in the butt, I guess it was blessing in disguise for you

  35. Can you please do a day in the life of a neurosurgery resident and why you didn't choose neurosurgery after your rotation.

  36. I want to be when I grow up a heart surgeon like really bad like I hope I work that job but the problem is that my mum and dad they are not supporting me at all

  37. I want to become a neureseurgeon in the future. What strengths do you need to have to do that scpeciality?

  38. I ended up deciding on plastic surgery because, and its going to sound weird, but because of my love for sculpting. As a hobby i love ceramics and creating huge pieces like heads and bodies and things like that and for some reason i feel like that love for scultping comes out when im studying plastic surgery. 🤷🏿‍♀️ who woulda thought lol

  39. Me too. I enjoy philosophy and art. I love reading about God. But there are times I got confused about my major. Now I am a nurse assistant and I feel I want to take more chemistry courses. I am going to nursing school but I need two more chemistry courses. I love nutrition and I am sort like a psychologist and teacher. I like nursing profession. I like family medicine or emergency medicine so if I go to medical school, I would do that. So when I become a RN, I can go to Nurse practitioner instead. (:

  40. I think a good video or video series would be an explanation of what you have to go through to become a surgeon, all the levels of getting there like college, residency, and the choices that need to be made, like specialties and such.

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