So last night I saw this PBS documentary "Doctors Diaries" available here - (http://video.pbs.org/video/1114402491/). If you haven't seen it, it "Follows the lives of seven people over two decades, as they move from Harvard Medical School to midlife." They experience a range of problems, divorce (almost all), some leave medicine, the idealist is crushed in internship, etc. Generally a very bleak albeit realistic view of the medical profession. For those of you who have seen it, and are residents or attendings, I am curious about how closely it reflects what you have seen and observed. I have thought a lot both prior to and after watching this documentary, about why people enter medical school, their personal traits, and their ultimate satisfaction with their choice. First things first, I think no matter who you are, finding balance between your personal/professional life is extremely difficult, and unlikely in some specialties. As for the people who tend to end up the most satisfied on the whole, I think they have one or more of the following, in no particular order of importance: 1. A genuine interest in science. 2. A desire to do even repetitive things well each time - a striving for perfection. 3. Actually enjoy spending time with patients. 4. Not prone to depression or sensitive to sleep cycle disruptions. 5. Social skills and network of family and friends. 6. Matching into a lifestyle specialty and having time for family and hobbies and the money to enjoy them. 7. Not given to self introspection/over thinking things, accepting systems for what they are. As for the people who tend to end up the most unhappy on the whole, I think they have one or more of the following, in no particular order of importance: 1. Entered medical school because they couldn't figure out what else to do. 2. Entered medical school because they wanted to help people/make the world a better place. 3. Entered medical school because of money/prestige. 4. Entered medical school because of family pressure or bc they thought it would resolve personal issues. 5. Marriage to someone who is not a socioeconomic/intellectual equal. 6. A tendency to compare themselves to others. 7. A specialty that has excessive hours or low pay. 8. A free spirit/personality that doesn't fit into rigid hierarchies. In general, I think medicine can be an excellent choice for many, but for some people it is a poor one. The difficulty is the huge expense and length of training, which means those unhappy cannot leave (bc of debt), or bc they think that they have put X years into this already and maybe it will get better in MS III or after intern year or when I'm an attending or when I go into private practice, etc etc. What I wrote above is by no means an exhaustive list, really just some things that were floating around my head, I very much look forward to anyone else's input.