Recently, a reader posted a comment about my discouraging 'Don't become a doctor' series. And certainly, people are entitled to their opinions, and to some extent, I agree: there's no goal more rife with naysayers than pre-med.

But it reminded me of a story that a friend of mine Ghetto told me. Ghetto's dad was in a special forces unit during Vietnam. Ghetto was a smart guy, and looking for a way to get into college. The Montgomery GI bill seemed like a smart choice. Remember that I was in college after the first gulf war, and joining the military didn't seem like such a bad idea.

Rather than being proud of his son for considering a military career, Ghetto's dad was mortified. "Are you prepared to kill people, people whose only crime is living on a piece of land? Are you prepared to shoot and stab people because someone else told you to? Do you think you can murder women and children?"

Ghetto decided against enlisting. He went the old-fashioned route of climbing into educational debt. But it all ended happy.

The reason why I tell this story is that it speaks to my purpose. Those loaded questions that Ghetto's dad asked got to the heart of the matter pretty quickly. Ghetto did not have his heart in military service. It wasn't something that he wanted to do, and so when confronted, his resolve disappeared. Nothing against Ghetto. It just wasn't something that he wanted at the time. It was just a means to an end.

And I remember being a pre-med, and I remember talking to other pre-meds. So let's get rid of everyone for whom medicine is a means to an end. Let's take everyone who's looking to make tons of money, everyone who wants to work 9 to 5, everyone who only wants the prestige or some imaginary comfortable lifestyle, let's get rid of those folks first.

The ones that are left, let's show them that this job is tough, with a lot of pressures and demands. Because if their response is, "Oh, well that sounds sucky. I'll pass," then they'd have never made it through med school anyway.

One of my doctors put it quite well. I was getting my physical before starting med school, and he congratulated me on getting in.

"Everyone tells me it's really hard," I said tentatively.

"Oh, well, it's not so hard. If you love it, it's almost easy," he replied with a smile.


glorified midwife said...

that is the most perfect explanation on this topic i have ever seen. i will be saving it for future reference.

Anonymous said...

I am a Canadian who will be attending a Canadian med school this fall. I would like to say that your series is awesome in the sense that it gives a REAL viewpoint of what medicine is and is not. If one can't stomach the truth, then perhaps an alternate career would be more suitable than medicine. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

You series are kick ass, this post is kick ass, and medicine is kick ass! I love it ;)