Grad Profile: When teacher becomes student

Christian Digout, Faculty of Medicine

- May 26, 2020

Digout with his family. (Provided photo)
Digout with his family. (Provided photo)

This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2020. Visit our Class of 2020 virtual space to share in the excitement with our newest graduates.

Ten years into a career as a high school math teacher, Christian Digout was inspired to change professions after experiencing first-hand the profound impact and difference a physician could have.

A career in medicine was something he had considered during his undergraduate degree, but it was merely an idea, one that he had pushed aside to pursue a career in education. However, it was a personal experience with the medical system and the support of a physician that renewed that interest from years ago and sparked the difficult decision to apply to medical school.

“Switching careers was scary because I was married with family and I knew it would have a significant impact on them,” says Christian. “It wasn’t easy, but my wife and I sat down and we worked out a plan.”

Having been out of school for several years, the transition to medical school wasn’t easy, and he found that having young children meant having to plan ahead. The first four months of medical school were overwhelming and thoughts of if he had made the correct decision crept into his head.

Switching careers and returning to school with a young family presented challenges. Finding a work/life balance can be difficult under normal circumstances, but with two young daughters, it was important for Christian to stay involved in his children's lives. By making detailed study schedules, he managed to find the time to coach t-ball, go kayaking and biking as a family.

Support system

Sometimes his classmates would question how he managed to study with a young family, but Christian attributes his success to his wife and two daughters making things easier.

“Anytime I needed a break, they were there to do something with which, made me more focused and productive,” says Christian. “Coming home to hugs from my girls after a busy and tiring call shift helped me switch focus.”

Despite planning and scheduling, sometimes medical school took precedent, causing him to miss weddings, social gatherings, and even birthdays.

“Two of my first call shifts were on my kids' birthdays, and since I was in the emergency department, I snuck away briefly to the ambulance bay to sing them a happy birthday,” says Christian. “I’m sure the paramedic was wondering what I was doing in the ambulance bay until she heard me singing.”

With medical school now complete, he was relieved to learn that he matched to Family Medicine in Halifax, meaning he won’t have to uproot his young family.

Christian looks back on his time as a teacher not as a hinderance to his medical career, but a valuable learning experience that helped him better appreciate the importance and responsibility that practicing medicine represents.


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