Even though the media often portrays physicians as burned out and barely hanging on, this is not the reality for most who work in healthcare. Each physician has his or her reasons for choosing medicine, and I wanted to share a few of my own.
Insight and Access
What if you could ask any question you wanted? What if you must ask the difficult questions? Physicians have access to areas normally off limits. A good doctor will probe these corners and often reveal answers to what is making a patient sick.
As doctors, we have the awesome task of looking under the hood and digging deep inside the body to find the required answers. Patients give us the honor of being a trusted companion on their journey back to health and expect us to dig deep for solutions.
Mobility & Opportunity
Few jobs are as portable and geographically independent as medical care. With a bit of planning and effort, one can go anywhere in the world and have a job waiting. The opportunities are endless for relocation, even if just temporary. Consider volunteer work, medical missions, locum tenens, fellowship training or retraining altogether – the choices are vast.
Looking back at the last 17 years of my career and focusing on the positive outcomes brings a smile and profound sense of joy. Sure, there were plenty of tough cases, but reliving difficult ones with happy outcomes provides immense satisfaction.
Simple gestures of gratitude are among the best rewards of life as a physician. A smile, a quick hug, or a handwritten thank-you serves as poignant reminders that our efforts are appreciated.
At its core, medicine requires a team approach, even if just a team of two (patient-doctor). Without cooperation and synchronistic efforts, the best outcome will remain elusive.
Having worked in settings as diverse as an urban trauma center to a rural outpatient clinic, watching a team of unique individuals form a cohesive unit, all centered around the patient, is impressive. Even better – being an equal member of that team and directing efforts that save a life.
The road to medical school demands intense effort, countless hours of study, and endless exams. Getting through this requires a genuine sense of curiosity and wonder. Science and the human body are infinitely complex, and understanding them requires sacrifices. Just ask any premed or medical student how many Friday nights were spent buried in the books instead of out with friends. While some might consider this behavior nerdy, many wear it as a badge of honor that soon morphs into the privilege of wearing the white coat.
Even in the face of rapid changes in the healthcare marketplace, life as a doctor is still relatively secure. The skill set and knowledge base of a doctor is hard to replace and remains in much demand.
Patients are counting on us to show up every day and deliver the care they need.
Doctors also possess an unfair advantage in the marketplace. The insight and experience achieved on the road to becoming a doctor are unmatched and valuable in the business world. Many physicians turned entrepreneurs or consultants have made their dent in the universe. Take Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, for example. Although a medical doctor, he is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions, and commercial space. He also heads up Human Longevity Inc., a genomics company focused on extending the human lifespan.
Adventure and Exploration
Every day is different. Every patient is different. Research, technology, and innovation continue to expand, reshaping the way medicine is practiced. Whether through the use of personalized genetics, robotics assisted surgery, or applying AI to a massive centralized collection of block chain stored medical records, the direction is clear – medicine is rapidly changing for the better. Embrace this wave and capitalize on its power to positively impacting lives on a whole new level. The joys of being a physician have never been better than right now.