If there are so many miserable doctors, why are you guys entering this field?

Jan 19, 2015
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So today a few weeks ago, I went home to my parents house and I went to church with them at the local congregation on Sunday. I hadn't been to their church in about 5 years or so and what I saw was pretty startling. As I was looking around at the people in the audience, I noticed the faces were basically the same. My dad is a doctor and there is about 5 other doctors in the congregation they go to. While everyone else looked basically the same, all the doctors in the congregation looked considerably older (I mean their hair had gotten much whiter, they looked pretty stressed). I was thinking to myself, these guys must be under an insane amount of stress.

I know this is anecdotal evidence, but it made a large impression on me. My honest question to you premeds (with all due respect) is why on earth would you ever want to be a doctor? I've talked to these doctors, my dad's colleagues and none of them have recommended being a doctor to me. I've read a few accounts on here, and it seems that the only thing premed students can see out of the profession is money. Hello... Money does not equate happiness. Studies have been conducted (see here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/map-happiness-benchmark_n_5592194.html) that show that in most states, money equates happiness till about $65,000 a year.

So obviously, anyone who goes into medicine looking for prestige or money will most likely end up miserable. For you guys, do you feel like you have something to prove? Do you feel it's just your calling? What is it?
 

breezy16

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To make the healthcare world a better place for the patient. Having the knowledge is one thing, but being able to properly treat patients individually and without discrimination is another. We don't have enough doctors that do both of those things well.
 

raiderette

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For me it is a good mix of all my talents. I like to solve problems, I love people, I am empathetic but firm. I am fascinated with the human body and equally interested in human behavior. I also have found that I am a natural leader in teams and like to work with lots of people. Healthcare just fits all those things, I didn't want to settle for PA or NP.
 
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I have personally lived with someone who has a certain chronic condition that has made life quite challenging in several aspects, which first sparked my interest in the field. However, I feel like I have a rather unique skill set, mindset, and talents that I want to/am currently translating into enhancing medical practice. Health is one of those things in life that is absolutely not guaranteed. To me, having the intellect and people skills to help restore health keeps me extremely interested and satisfied in this profession, regardless of the lengthy training and somewhat stressful day to day responsibilities. I think being a physician is the ultimate service to humanity, and the comfortable lifestyle down the road is the cherry on top
 

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Confirmation bias?

Also, ask them what their legit motivation for becoming a doctor is and you'll likely see a difference in expectations. Maybe. All the docs I've shadowed were really happy with their job, but they worked in a community hospital.

Also take into account that some people have "resting b*tch face". It becomes more apparent when you become older and your brow lines deepen.
 
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Jan 19, 2015
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Guys, it was an honest question with no malicious intent. Some people here have given good answers, but some of you are getting so defensive. For those of you getting defensive: are you really that insecure that you have to stoop down to the level of ad hominem attacks?
 

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http://www.practicelink.com/magazine/vital-stats/whos-the-happiest/

This is from 2011, but it seems like probably about 2/3 of all physicians are satisfied with their jobs. I would bet that's well above the national average. No job is going to have a 100% satisfaction rate.

Personally, all the physicians I've met are also very satisfied, even though all of them work >60 hrs/wk. They all make a lot of money but don't have much time to enjoy it. I would argue that the benefit of making six figures isn't necessarily in that you can live a lavish lifestyle, but that you don't have to worry about the intense job market insecurity in other fields. We're not really allowed to talk about money as a reason to go into medicine, but I do think that gives it a huge leg up against social work, teaching, etc. which are also jobs that benefit the community and require empathy and teamwork but don't always allow people to pay back college loans or even, sometimes, their medical bills.

It's a fulfilling career that allows you a lot of independence (depending on specialty, I guess) and job stability. You don't get that kind of decision making power as a NP or PA. You do get to work with people and see them get better, and you can be financially comfortable without feeling like you've sold your soul to to the gods of Wall Street.
 
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Afp0731

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I have found that a lot of those physicians who try to dishearten premeds would not take their own advice if given the chance to start over. Money certainly does not produce happiness but neither does lack of stress and long weekends. I believe many doctors would not feel fulfilled working in other professions and while that fulfillment may come at a high price, the motivation for it is second to none.

Most premeds realize that there are far easier ways to make good money before applying to medical school. Those who move forward successfully tend to have more genuine motivations.
 
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cantankerous

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Well don't expect serious answers to a silly question.

If you want a real answer, there is no "happiness" to be found in work. Just satisfaction. Nobody likes to get up 7AM in the morning and deal with difficult people for 10+ hours a day. Of course, some view that satisfaction as happiness.

I have never met a doctor who regretted being a doctor; all are quite proud. What they may regret is the fact that they sacrificed a long period of their lives for education and end up working hours that prevent them from truly enjoying the comfortable lifestyle they could afford with that paycheck.

Medicine is a profession in which you must use your brains to figure out solutions that have very direct impact on people's lives. That should "stress" them out.

(maybe those doctors you saw didn't want to go church. their spouses may have dragged them there)
 

allantois

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http://www.practicelink.com/magazine/vital-stats/whos-the-happiest/

This is from 2011, but it seems like probably about 2/3 of all physicians are satisfied with their jobs. I would bet that's well above the national average. No job is going to have a 100% satisfaction rate.

Personally, all the physicians I've met are also very satisfied, even though all of them work >60 hrs/wk. They all make a lot of money but don't have much time to enjoy it. I would argue that the benefit of making six figures isn't necessarily in that you can live a lavish lifestyle, but that you don't have to worry about the intense job market insecurity in other fields. We're not really allowed to talk about money as a reason to go into medicine, but I do think that gives it a huge leg up against social work, teaching, etc. which are also jobs that benefit the community and require empathy and teamwork but don't always allow people to pay back college loans or even, sometimes, their medical bills.

It's a fulfilling career that allows you a lot of independence (depending on specialty, I guess) and job stability. You don't get that kind of decision making power as a NP or PA. You do get to work with people and see them get better, and you can be financially comfortable without feeling like you've sold your soul to to the gods of Wall Street.
Dentists have a 90% job satisfaction rates.
 
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Goro

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My clinical colleagues all love what they do.

My dear friend Dr SB, now some 72 years old and still in practice, would grow the most animated whenever he was talking about Medicine.

So today a few weeks ago, I went home to my parents house and I went to church with them at the local congregation on Sunday. I hadn't been to their church in about 5 years or so and what I saw was pretty startling. As I was looking around at the people in the audience, I noticed the faces were basically the same. My dad is a doctor and there is about 5 other doctors in the congregation they go to. While everyone else looked basically the same, all the doctors in the congregation looked considerably older (I mean their hair had gotten much whiter, they looked pretty stressed). I was thinking to myself, these guys must be under an insane amount of stress.

I know this is anecdotal evidence, but it made a large impression on me. My honest question to you premeds (with all due respect) is why on earth would you ever want to be a doctor? I've talked to these doctors, my dad's colleagues and none of them have recommended being a doctor to me. I've read a few accounts on here, and it seems that the only thing premed students can see out of the profession is money. Hello... Money does not equate happiness. Studies have been conducted (see here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/map-happiness-benchmark_n_5592194.html) that show that in most states, money equates happiness till about $65,000 a year.

So obviously, anyone who goes into medicine looking for prestige or money will most likely end up miserable. For you guys, do you feel like you have something to prove? Do you feel it's just your calling? What is it?
 
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I think it has less to do with the profession, and more to do with the individuals. For instance, many chose medicine because of family pressure and had regrets because they had not thoroughly explored other options.

On the other hand, I also know plenty of doctors who are happy with their careers and their lives.
 

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I love the human body and the science of medicine. The surgeries and other treatments we have created are incredibly interesting. I love the thought of getting to use those treatments as a job. I love the hospital environment and enjoy working there. Lots of job security for doctors and they make enough money to live comfortably. Finally, I need to find a job where I am contributing to society and to people's lives in a real, tangible way; I want my work to go beyond myself, and medicine is a good career for that.
 
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To make the healthcare world a better place for the patient. Having the knowledge is one thing, but being able to properly treat patients individually and without discrimination is another. We don't have enough doctors that do both of those things well.
lol premed
 
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UNMedGa

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I think it has less to do with the profession, and more to do with the individuals. For instance, many chose medicine because of family pressure and had regrets because they had not thoroughly explored other options.

On the other hand, I also know plenty of doctors who are happy with their careers and their lives.
I think a lot of it has to do with attitudes associated with change as well. This is entirely me speculating, but I think some of the more dissatisfied doctors may have come into medicine with certain expectations and then experienced the changes associated with the increase in litigation, payment difficulties w/ insurance and government, extra paperwork etc. So comparing that with how medicine used to be might breed some dissonance. But like I said that's just a theory
 

breezy16

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Don't be naive; it has nothing to do with "changing the world," rather making it a more comfortable, safe environment for future patients. It's individual efforts combining to make a collective change.
 
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Moose A Moose

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Whoever said money doesn't buy happiness never had any. - Samuel L Jackson

Lol, but in a seriousness... Because I dig it, that's why.

Feel free to use any of these gems on your interview trail, OP. My gift to you.
 

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Personally, I think it's better to go into medical school with big dreams/goals and whatnot rather than cynical expectations (no matter how true they might be)

Agreed with @breezy16 that while there are a lot of naive premeds hoping to literally change the world without having thought it through, this aim is something that an individual physician could accomplish!
 

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Just what I believe and have very strong, personal experiences which formed this belief. No need to be rude about it.
Just like every single other premed that had ever existed. Then you realize that the system sucks, patients suck and it's not what you signed up for but too bad too late
 

Glazedonutlove

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Just like every single other premed that had ever existed. Then you realize that the system sucks, patients suck and it's not what you signed up for but too bad too late
Will you be one of OP's church doctors someday

haha, but I do agree with you that our vision is probably more idealistic before entering med school
 

Crayola227

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Sigh. Another pre-med thread cheering on other pre-meds, maybe some soliciting of med student opinions.

you can be financially comfortable without feeling like you've sold your soul to to the gods of Wall Street.
You've instead sold your body to the hospital/finanical admin to crush patients. If you actually care about how patients are treated, you're a tender soul that is deeply disturbed by the half-assed care the modern med system is going to force you to foist on patients, you will feel like a worse sell-out, believe me. What's worse than having your money/pension stolen, is getting your health physically mugged in the hospital. I would rather be stealing people's money than making their bodies frist for the flesh mill.


My clinical colleagues all love what they do.

My dear friend Dr SB, now some 72 years old and still in practice, would grow the most animated whenever he was talking about Medicine.
I love medicine. Everyone tells me how I go from.... let's say the ledge to the brightest smile they've ever seen when I talk about health topics, connecting with patients, giving out advice, even advice on SDN.

What I'm struck by is your example, someone 72 years in. That means they've had a lot of time in practice from way back when, some time before it seriously sucked like now. And all those old timers didn't have a cakewalk to get here, but they always tell me that for most of their career they've got the practice they want but now they're looking to get out because the crunch is making that harder and harder, the bean counters are ruining it.

In any case, medicine, if entered with the right skillset and for the right reasons, when performed according to your good clinical judgement, can be so immensely rewarding, and I'm not talking financially because there's better ways to do that.

But unless you find a way to control your practice....
 
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Every premed here thinking they're going to change the world :laugh:
The world may be overzealous, but I definitely want to have an impact on my community. That's the beauty of academic medicine, you have your clinical work and interactions with patients that inform your research that will hopefully guide public health policy and guidelines. Being a physician gives you a strong voice as an advocate for patients AND your community.
 
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allantois

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The world may be overzealous, but I definitely want to have an impact on my community. That's the beauty of academic medicine, you have your clinical work and interactions with patients that inform your research that will hopefully guide public health policy and guidelines. Being a physician gives you a strong voice as an advocate for patients AND your community.
Working out of Walmart will certainly give one a sense on the community

http://www.walmart.com/cp/Care-Clinics/1224932
 
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I can't believe none of you stated the real reasons:
1. Money.
2. Wimmins.
3. Respect. Lemme just flash my MD and people automatically respect you.



End of sarcasm.
 
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I know one doctor very well who entered for the money and the social status. He is miserable. He told me that I can become a doctor if I wished, but that social status, money, changing the world, and feeling like a saint are all bullcrap reasons that don't really happen.

And for some people, that's all they're good at. Becoming a Wall Street hombre takes a set of skills, and so does any other profession. Dewds who are good at math/science, can do grades and tests, and can take stress may only have this choice.
 
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A realistic view is best, but I would much prefer admit an idealistic premed than a jaded one. Honestly kind of drives me nuts when I interact with someone with essentially no clinical experience that acts like being a doctor is the worst thing ever, can't do anything to help patients because they're all "dumb non-compliant dinguses", etc. Just makes me wonder why the hell they're going into medicine. There's a fair amount of career dissatisfaction among physicians (in some fields more than others) and for extremely valid reasons. That doesn't mean medicine isn't still a great field. Talk with physicians, ones that love medicine, ones that hate it, and why. Try to see which direction you'd see yourself going in the future and make your decisions accordingly

Edit: I do want to emphasize doctors who are dissatisfied with medicine and doctors who went into it for the money are distinct groups
 

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why does someone post a thread every few weeks trying to convince everyone that being a doctor sucks?
Why?
I can't tell if they want us to write their secondary for them, or just plain trolling, or trying to narrow down the competition or what. :yawn:
 
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cryhavoc

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My usual reaction in my head, "Yeah, well you might think scribbling your name on a prescription, filling out a lot of paperwork, and giving advice to a dozen plus people a day is miserable, but I can say every job has a lot of stuff about it that sucks. At least for a portion of my day I'll be hearing someone's problem and offering a solution based on a field I'm actually interested in. It is stressful, sure, but I get paid enough to handle it. You can't convince someone who flipped burgers for 40 hours a week while never getting to apply something he was interested in that medicine sucks. I didn't have enough money for rent and food, AND my job sucked. That the bureaucracy of medicine is mind-numbing and that the job is leaving you unfulfilled and you are miserable reveals more about you than the profession. I never make choices I regret, and I'm stubborn enough to not be washed out like you someday."
 
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studentdocftw

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Have you noticed it's always the oldies that are so negative about the current state of medicine? that's because IT'S CHANGING. Who likes change? Honestly? Nobody. We pre-meds...we're naive...we don't know any better, so to us every day is a new day. Physicians that have practiced for years are dealing with expanded coverage, increase in mid-levels, increase in responsibility, increase in charting, etc. To us, that's something we (hopefully) understand going in. I love medicine..the applicability...the newness..the changing aspect (can't imagine myself in a stagnant field)...then you add on the fact you are directly improving the lives of fellow human beings..and we're lucky enough to have that privilege as our profession. Idk....I just get excited every time I enter the ED...or shadow a physician. Sure, you get your run of the mill chronic patients...or narcotic seekers...but for every few of those, you'll get a little baby with a burn...or an elderly man on his way out...on his own terms. There's just so much to learn in medicine..about the human body..but more importantly..about life. That is why I am seeking medicine.
 

narvik2016

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Just like every single other premed that had ever existed. Then you realize that the system sucks, patients suck and it's not what you signed up for but too bad too late
This. This is exactly why I advocate for gap years. I spent (and am spending) significant time in another system that on a daily basis I might say "sucks." That being said, I have still decided that the work is important to me and I would like to be a part of it, even though I have to put up with a sucky system. This isn't something I could have explored during undergrad and I am thankful for having real-world work experience to explore the way things truly are.

I was incredibly idealistic as a college student, which I think is admirable, but realistic perspective is important. Just my $0.02, but I think more students would be happy with their decision to pursue medicine had they explored other opportunities first.
 
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why does someone post a thread every few weeks trying to convince everyone that being a doctor sucks?
Why?
I can't tell if they want us to write their secondary for them, or just plain trolling, or trying to narrow down the competition or what. :yawn:
You've heard of the long con, but this is the long gun.
 

Holmwood

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If you're dissatisfied with current health care, then contribute to its change. If you have nothing productive to contribute, then please don't bully people out of their idealism. You're just stifling innovation . . .

Cynicism should not be mistaken with realistic point of views. Cynics can be just as naive as idealists . . .
 
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Dr. Stalker

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I come from a country where people with money only get health care. Knowing that so many people are passing away because they aren't rich enough for treatment, it made me want to learn about medicine to go back there and be a doctor and try to save everyone! I was roughly 8 years old when I realized this...it is definitely naive...but dreamers gonna dream!
 
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gannicus89

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Being able to impact people in such a positive, helpful, and personal way is worth all the hardship that's tied up with medicine. It's a privilege to be a physician, imo. But I speak as a lowly pre-med lol. My bro hates so much of the red tape and politics, but when he talks about a patient he saved, that other stuff just fades into the background.
 

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Have you noticed it's always the oldies that are so negative about the current state of medicine? that's because IT'S CHANGING. Who likes change? Honestly? Nobody. We pre-meds...we're naive...we don't know any better, so to us every day is a new day. Physicians that have practiced for years are dealing with expanded coverage, increase in mid-levels, increase in responsibility, increase in charting, etc. To us, that's something we (hopefully) understand going in. I love medicine..the applicability...the newness..the changing aspect (can't imagine myself in a stagnant field)...then you add on the fact you are directly improving the lives of fellow human beings..and we're lucky enough to have that privilege as our profession. Idk....I just get excited every time I enter the ED...or shadow a physician. Sure, you get your run of the mill chronic patients...or narcotic seekers...but for every few of those, you'll get a little baby with a burn...or an elderly man on his way out...on his own terms. There's just so much to learn in medicine..about the human body..but more importantly..about life. That is why I am seeking medicine.
Actually you've got it backwards. The "oldies" love medicine because they got in when the getting was good -- their results and career paths matched their expectations. It's the newer doctors who were fed a load of crap and unrealistic expectations and come to the reality that they are ten -twenty years too late to the party.
 
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...He told me that I can become a doctor if I wished, but that social status, money, changing the world, and feeling like a saint are all bullcrap reasons that don't really happen...
Strongly agree with this. Only go into this field if you enjoy the job function, enjoy working with patients in a clinical setting. Because much of this other stuff rarely/barely happens, and so just aren't smart reasons to choose this career path. If you go into medicine primarily for money, job security, respect or because it's what your parents want, you'll be miserable. If you enjoy the job, even without respect or some of the other perks, you'll do fine.
 
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Strudel19

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I've seen a few of these surveys saying doctors are absolutely miserable, most of the ones I've met seem to enjoy their job. Do you!
 
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