Don't become a doctor #10 - hate me

So, I was reading Waiter Rant's post about pharmaceutical meetings (nothing against waiter rant. It's a good blog), and I was really distressed at all the extremely negative comments about doctors. We're so rich, and privileged, and we take advantage of people, and we're evil and soulless. This kind of stuff really bothers me. And I said my peace, but I realize that trying to win an argument on someone else's blog comments is pretty hopeless.

Because if my goal was to make a lot of money, I picked the dumbest way to do it. If I wanted money, I'd get an MBA. I'd work at a firm. And I kind of resent the idea that I went into medicine to get mine, because it's such a ridiculous notion. Eleven years of education after high school! ELEVEN YEARS! $150,000 debt! My life has been on hold for so damn long. And this is the reward? Contempt and indignation?

And the comments keep ringing. We're rude. We're selfish. We're inconsiderate. We're in the pocket of drug companies. It hurts. It hurts because I spend so much of my time trying to be the exact opposite of these things.

What was the point of all this work, just to be taken for granted? Oh that's right. I'm here to help people. And I don't mean that tritely. Everyone in medicine, doctors and nurses and therapists, etc, we are in this because the idea of helping another human being is something that resonates. If it didn't, no one could do this. As I am fond of telling the students, we're worked too hard and suffered too long to do something we hate.

This is why I tell people that if you want to be a doctor for the prestige and admiration, you're wasting your time. Because all you need to do is look through waiter rant's comment section to see how you will be admired.

EDIT - The waiterrant website migrated, and comments were lost. Hopefully, you get the idea.


Halo said...

I hate when people speak about doctors like that. I understand there are some, not really 'bad' ones but less than appealing ones out there. The thing that most people have to remember is - you don't know how his/her day has been going. What happened to them earlier? Maybe they were yelled at by a patient, maybe a patient of theirs died, maybe they haven't had sleep in a few days - you just don't know. Doctors work hard, they do their work because they love it and if they don't then I believe they chose the wrong profession.

If they wanted money there are easier ways to get it than getting very far in debt and putting their lives on hold for over a decade.

I work in a hospital, on the transcription end, and even still I'm confronted with patients who are angry, distraught, uptight and generally miserable with their doctors. It saddens me, it infuriates me, and many times I sympathize with the doctor.

People need to learn to be more understanding, more patient with their physicians and try to put themselves in his/her shoes.

Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their place; or something like that.

So - to you and other doctors, I tip my hat. You all do an amazing job; even if it is thankless at times.


Anonymous said...

nicely put, halo.

however, i think there needs to be more respect from both sides. i am a doctor too and i feel that at times we do not treat the patients and families as well as we should esp. emotionally( usually due to time constraints, lack of resources + lack of training in that area) and trust me, there are PLENTY of very talented but horrible doctors who would not win prizes for their characters. i've worked with a lot of loving, caring and wonderful doctors but there are just as many who should not be allowed into the profession.

don't forget, esp in western countries, because of the costs of studying medicine etc it is usually people of a certain socioeconomic status that can even get into medicine. sure, some programs do provide for scholarships etc but i would say the majority of students in my year were rich white kids. not to say they aren't great doctors but surely in that skewed population of people who have always had it all, which comes with a sense of entitlement, there will be duds.

i certainly know of a large number of people who do it for the prestige and for the steady income, or because their dad was a doctor. not everyone's heart is in it and 1 year of internship is often enough to push you over the edge.

so although i think a lot of what was said on waiterrant was uncalled for and a lot of the comments were made by people who have no idea about the medical system, i would not completely disagree with some of the negativity.

there have been plenty of times when i was an intern that i was tut-tutted for spending extra time (MY time, unpaid for) with patients to ensure their transition to home was smooth, that they were having their questions answered and feeling happy as possible about the situation.

at the same time, patients are more like consumers now, they come with a lot of (often misleading) information sourced from various places, and are more demanding and question you. which in a way is good, but also can be difficult when you're trying to treat them the best you can (which is not always so great with western medicine). only once did i get a thank you card from a patient.. after getting told off for spending my own money to buy him a crossword book and make sure i had some time in the day for him to talk to me about both medical stuff and life in general. this despite working my ass off for a lot of people who just spit in your face. but such is life, i don't do medicine in order to get praise, i do it because the lessons i learn from my patients are more precious than any external words to flatter me. service to mankind is the first and foremost.

anyways, just my little spiel on things :)
dr m

incidental findings said...

Thanks for your comments. I guess putting my name up on waiter rant has generated a lot of unexpected traffic!

I agree that there certainly are a lot of docs out there with poor motives. We are not a blameless profession.

I just think that we are too quick to judge.

Halo said...

I started to type something in response to Dr. M. but it got long-winded. So I've revised it and will simply say that I agree with the poster to a 'T'; especially about the socioeconomic status that is "required" to get into medicine and the causes that can have on those who become doctors (following in father's footsteps etc).

To Dr. IF,
While there are a lot of docs out there with "poor motives", in my experience the good far outweighs the bad and a few spoiled apples does little harm to the overall bunch.


Demented M said...

Personally, I think I'm just cursed. I believe there are good doctors out there, but I never find them. I always end up with the 'strange' doctors.

As in reading scripture to me and talking about Jesus and how that relates to intelligence complete with cross 'diagrams'. No, really, this happened and I was there for annovulation. Then I was expected to repeat it back to her and when I couldn't was told 'that's okay, you're not at my level.'

Which level was that? Batshit crazy?

Final insult? She told me to 'just relax' and then I would ovulate.

Or the pulmonologist who literally screamed at me 'who said you had asthma? who gave you a nebulizer?' when my lung capacity was down by 50% and not improving despite lots of meds and ER/DR visits. To this day I still don't understand what drove his behavior, but it was terrifying to be so horribly ill and feeling like the doctor didn't believe I was sick.

My PCP ran off with my vicodin (for a pelvic infection after a failed IUI) after I had a bad reaction to it. She left the state with no notice to anybody. Hmmm. I wonder if she'll show up in the State Medical Board's disciplinary reports (which I get since I have a license from the board for Massagetherapy).

I have more stories, but I'll stop here.

There are good doctors out there, but like I said, I never find them. Sometimes I think the board should hire me to vet doctors for them.

So I think a lot of the backlash on the Waiter's page is driven by experiences like mine. Sadly, we can't all see you :)

Anyway, it is funny to me that docs are getting such a drubbing for free meals. Every industry has free meals. That's what happens when you have vendors--they feed you in hopes of developing a business relationship and educating you on their serives. The free vacations and free money aren't limited to Pharma Companies either, it happens in my non-medical industry too. It's pretty much unethical and bad for cash flow whether you're selling widgets or drugs. You can't buy your customers, you have to earn them--Big Business likes to learn this lesson the hard way when it takes a big hit to their SG&A and profits.


Anonymous said...

Indeed, a lot of doctors/premeds self assert that the vast majority of doctors act ethically. Yet, personal experience tells me that doctors I met correspond more to the "rude", "selfish", and even sometimes cupid. A few days ago, I asked a surgeon for a shadowing experience: guess what was his reaction? "Your credit card number?" Pretty funny huh? Well, he wasn't joking and actually reasked for 45$/hour of shadowing.

I know people that volunteer at the local hospital, and one common thing they noticed was that 99% of the doctors never said "Hi" to you when you said "hi" to them. They don't even look at you when they talk to you. They overlook you as if you were an object, or worse, as if you were an interesting speciment, or a source of money.

Just my experience, though...

incidental findings said...

While I could respond at quite some length, I will simply say this: perhaps saying hi to random people in a hospital hallway is not the best test of the courtesy of a profession.

Shabine said...

I think the reason why most doctors are rude and distant is related to I don't blame them (the doctors) but this is my life we're dealing with and sorry if I expect you to be courteous and responsible. It's a pretty polarising situation both ways.