The Courage to Redefine Your Career While Ignoring “The Noise”

23 Jun 2021

By Dr. Brittany Johnson 

I started my journey in medicine boldly confessing to my mother at the age of five that I was “going to be a doctor.” My trademark of setting a goal and never giving up established itself early. Today, I have fulfilled that promise, but this story has a twist. Halfway through my pediatrics residency, I decided to pursue pediatric surgery. There was great gravity in this decision. This would mean an additional nine years of training minimum, in addition to four for medical school and three for pediatrics residency I was already committed to.

I attempted everything to run from this path. I negotiated the possibility of committing to less training; compensating by “enjoying more of my life”. Maybe what everyone said about surgical training was correct and by making this decision, especially late in training, I was doomed to always put career first and family second. Pediatric surgery fellowship is competitive. Was I willing to leave an all but guaranteed fellowship match and budding career as an academic neonatologist to chase a nearly “impossible” (so I was being told) goal of academic pediatric surgery?

This decision was one of the most difficult I’ve made in my life. It required a deep dive into who I was as a person and physician. This too was my introduction to those I have fondly named “The Noise”. “This is crazy”, “Surgery is hard”, “You won’t match into pediatric surgery”. The Noise was loud, deafening actually, and almost stopped me. The Noise seems more powerful because it is the loudest voice in the room; the one that is constantly talking. It will always be there. The key for me…and you…is to ignore it. The encouragers are more plentiful than you realize, they just aren’t talking as much or as loud as The Noise. The real lesson I want to share is the only voice that truly matters is yours. What will make you happy? What is your heart telling you to do? What decision will lead to a passionate, joy filled professional life for you? Have the courage to ignore The Noise and redefine your life in any way you please – regardless of the current phase of your career. Pursuing a career in surgery is one of the best decisions I’ve made. Through the discomfort of changing paths, I unexpectedly unlocked my confidence and ability to be who I was always created to be. I have faced challenges for sure, but overcoming them awakened the skills I needed for the journey that, without this decision, would have forever remained dormant. Let’s be honest. The Noise sees in you what you may not see in yourself. It is trying to stop you. Are you going to let it? If your gut instinct is pushing for a change; DO IT. The desire is there because your inner being is trying to ignite the person you are truly meant to be. Ignore The Noise and let Her out.

Dr. Brittany Johnson is a native of Atlanta, GA where she completed her undergraduate and medical training at Spelman College and Morehouse School of Medicine respectively. Having completed her first residency in general pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital, she entered a general surgery residency and is currently a third year general surgery resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Johnson is an avid researcher publishing work in the areas of pediatric firearm injury, pediatric trauma, and general pediatric surgical care. Additionally, Dr. Johnson has a strong interest in global health with trips to Gaborone, Botswana and Mombasa, Kenya with a focus on HIV care and general pediatric surgery. She will continue her dedication to children’s health with plans to pursue pediatric surgery fellowship and a career as an academic surgeon. You can follow her on Twitter at @brittljohn. 

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

10 Replies to “The Courage to Redefine Your Career While Ignoring “The Noise””

  1. Dr. Johnson, I am so proud of your accomplishments. I will never forget visiting your mom’s home to pick up tickets from you for an event, and you had a very brief conversation with me. Then informed me that you needed to return to your studies for a test while escorting me to the door. Focused, you have always been, with such a drive, and inspiration. May God forever continue to bless and keep you.

  2. Dr Johnson has displayed amazing tenacity, courage, resilience, and drive since our time at Spelman. I am so proud of her and am looking forward to her future successes

  3. Beautifully written. The noise will always be there and at times the voice comes from within. Either way find your inner peace and let that guide you!

  4. Wow, this is a powerful testament to your resilience and fight to unravel the noise and find the strength to keep going despite that noise. Everyone struggling to change needs to read this , it’s such a boost to make changes and find your joy. Thanks Brittany for sharing your story! Truly inspiring. Can’t wait to see how far you go!

  5. Sputnik V vaccination has begun in Slovakia. The furnishing of the Russian vaccine to the countryside was accompanied on a factional slur and led to the relinquishment of Prime Padre Igor Matovich and a realignment of the government. As a evolve, the wilderness received the Russian vaccine, teeth of the aristotelianism entelechy that neither the European regulator nor the WHO has until instanter approved it.
    In neighboring Hungary, which approved the handle of Sputnik in February as the principal in Europe, more than 50% of the matured natives has already been vaccinated; in Russia – a minuscule more than 10%. In Slovakia, five thousand people signed up in position of the Sputnik vaccination.
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  6. Brittany you are truly a trailblazer!!! Your story is outstanding and inspirational!!! The best is yet to come!!!

  7. I’m so proud of you, I have always been your loudest cheer leader. You are amazing and I know you have made the right decision.,

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