Dare to dream

April 6, 2007

The author-a teacher turned physician turned scriptwriter-offers guidelines for realizing your professional dreams.

I am, admittedly, a risk-taker. How else would you describe a physician who's working toward becoming a television scriptwriter?

This isn't the first time I've followed a dream. In 1995 I was teaching counseling and education courses at a state university, all the while dreaming of becoming a physician. I read articles about medicine, took science classes, and volunteered at a free clinic. But could I, a woman in her 30s, actually pursue a career in medicine? After I spent a semester working one day a week at a physician's office, the decision was easy: How could I not go after a job that would use my people skills, interest in science, and ability to educate in such rewarding ways?

When my application to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine was accepted, my friends and family were surprised and concerned. Some wondered aloud about the wisdom of abandoning an established career, going into debt, and moving hundreds of miles away. I replied that in five years I would be five years older regardless, and I could be doing what I wanted to do-or thinking about how much I wished I'd had the courage to pursue my dream. So I went to medical school.

I also love to write. But it wasn't until 2005 that I began to think about becoming a television scriptwriter. Specifically, I wanted to use my in-the-trenches experience to develop scripts for a popular TV medical drama. An idea came to mind, and after a weekend of hard work I had a script in hand. An Internet search revealed a telephone contact number for the show. I got a production assistant on the line and submitted a synopsis of my script. I haven't sold the script yet, but I haven't given up; the feedback from those who've seen it (including an acting class that did a read-through) has been very positive.

If you're thinking of pursuing a new business opportunity or career, let me give you some guidelines to follow so you can join me in becoming a dream weaver.

Assess your skills and interests. Start by looking within. Do you have any special talents? What would you like to do in your spare time? I know a radiologist who exhibits his photographs at local art galleries. Two inter-nists in town started making necklaces and bracelets for themselves, then for their families and friends. Now they sell to the public. Another friend sells vitamins and nutritional products.

Assess the need for what you'd like to offer. Is there a product or service that the people in your community wish they could have? Can you supply an existing product or service better or more efficiently?

Set goals for yourself. Setting small, achievable objectives leading to a larger end result gives you a sense of direction and accomplishment. You can't sell jewelry, for example, if you don't buy supplies, design and make pieces, and then arrange to display and market the finished products.

Allocate time and energy to your dream. I write on the weekends. Will you do your project then? Or will you get up early every morning, or work two hours each night? If your project succeeds, are you prepared to decrease your patient care responsibilities or practice medicine part-time?