Don't Become a Doctor

I have been getting a LOT of links lately, and I appreciate the traffic, but I've come to realize that most of the links are for the 'Don't Become a Doctor' series, which I enjoy writing (I am still writing it), but I can see that there probably should be some sort of table of contents or main link page for ease of navigation and for the sake of links.

I just want to be absolutely crystal clear to the new readers out there, as I have gotten a lot of comments and mail about how pessimistic this series is, and how I must hate my job. I LOVE my job. I could write 40 posts on why someone should become a doctor. That's not the point of this series. Because you don't need help coming up with a list of reasons why being a doctor would be great.

To reiterate the purpose of these posts, I think that people spend a lot of time talking about the admirable qualities needed to be a doctor, and the motivations. We talk about the nobility and altruism of medicine, but rarely do we ever talk about the faults and shortcomings. So, I created this series as a guide, so that the eager pre-meds of the world can see the downsides too. And there are good sides, and it can be great, if it is what you want. But if all you are looking for is prestige and money and an easy life, I hope you might reconsider.

But please don't be too disheartened though. If anything I say actually discourages you from being a doctor, post a comment and let me know. I have no right to take your dreams away. I should be accountable for that. And if your dream truly is to be a doctor, I'll be more than happy to give you a litany of reasons why I think medicine is wonderful.

(1) The very worst in people
You only see the very worst of the world. Those are the folks that need our help.

(2) The doctor is OUT
it is very hard to be emotionally available for the people in your life, because you've learned so very well how to suppress it.

(3) There is no cure
We can't cure crap (literally and figuratively)

(4) A cruel mistress
It finds its way into every part of our lives, and continually pulls.

(5) Thou shalt not opine
Your professional opinion is not something to just throw around or wear on your sleeve.

(6) Laughing at the pain of others
What's the alternative? Go home and cry our eyes out every day?

(7) Thankless
All too often, I've taken exceptional care of someone, and been thanked with curses.

(8) Constant change
Some people like fields that are understandable and consistent. Medicine is not such a field.

(9) It's all your fault
Somewhere along the line, we decided as a society that the buck would stop at MD

(10) Hate me
If you want to be a doctor for the prestige and admiration, you're wasting your time.

(11) Perfection
No one is 100%. No one.

(12) Limited Resources
Distributive justice is a harsh reality.

(13) You know too much
You cannot help but assume the worst, because you have seen the worst.

(14) Uncertainty
In medicine, there is uncertainty on all sides.

(15) Guilty
Shouldn't someone be held accountable? And if I'm the patient's doctor, shouldn't it be me?

(16) I've got a secret
Patients have told me things, dark and secret things...

(17) A checkered past
Being a doctor does not come with a clear white coat.

(18) Meaning
the ugly truth is: a job is a job.

(19) Biased
He is still human, and still deserves to be treated like one.

(20) Treating the source
The diseases I am treating are not the principal problems of her life.

(21) Haunted
doctors are always haunted by so many ghosts.


Doctor David said...

Although it's an old post... you're spot on with every one of your comments. Regarding #3 (There is no cure), I always tell my students about my favorite quote from Voltaire: "The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease."

Anonymous said...

hehehe...keje doctor tu kaje yg mulia mesti byk cabaran nye...

incidental findings said...

???? your guess is as good as mine.

Anonymous said...

Hm... dakchomey's comment looks like either Indonesian or Malay. If I'm not wrong, it can be translated as "Medicine is a noble profession, it will have many challenges"
Good series, by the way. I enjoyed reading it very much. =^^=

Dragonfly said...

What panthera-felis said.

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing these blogs, they've been really insightful... i'm a junior in college and i'm taking premed classes and it's helpful to know the other side of the story. the one that isn't always about rainbows and unicorns

Anonymous said...

Some of the things said on this website can be applied to anyone working in healthcare.

divinebeginnings said...

This post was very helpful since i have recently decided to become a physician. Thank you very much

Global Hospitals said...

I think that people spend a lot of time talking about the admirable qualities needed to be a doctor, and the motivations.

Yes , True

Anonymous said...

Just ran across your blog - I'll probably start reading from the beginning, but I've enjoyed it so far.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just finished reading your DBAD series and I wanted to say that it has inspired me. I am a sophomore undergrad with a pre-med intent and it is really comforting to read these. Right now all I see is a long, and difficult journey in front of me and sometimes it's easy to forget why you want to go into medicine, but reading this I have realized that all the reasons not to be a doctor are some of the reasons I want to become one. I want to go through the challenges and be pushed past the breaking point. I want to experience the good and bad aspects of becoming an MD. Thank you for writing these and I hope you continue to write more posts because they really do help.