Second Acts

Shrink Dreams

How a Slate journalist became a psychiatrist.

Whenever I describe my career path to people, they seem a little perplexed. “Journalism to psychiatry?” they say. “How’d that happen?” I admit, it isn’t a common path. Young people have always left journalism, of course. Many get tired of eking out a living as a freelancer and seek something more stable. Some find that they don’t like the grind of constantly producing copy. And then there are those who are talented and thriving but nevertheless seek greener pastures. In my brief time in journalism, I saw two very talented twentysomething colleagues leave for law school and another depart for graduate school and then become a successful fiction writer.

But leaving journalism to enter a scientific field such as medicine is unusual. In fact, if you’d told me in college that several years later I would walk away from a budding career in journalism, I would have been surprised. Like most aspiring journalists, I had always been interested in politics and policy, and I wanted to be in the thick of it. Like many before me, I wrote for my college newspaper and parlayed my clips into internships and finally a post-college job. The job was at Slate. I was very fortunate.