My presence in the medical community has not been lengthy, but I’ve noticed one thing: A lot of doctors are terminally unhappy. I know they think we don’t notice their scowl, their rush to get out of the hospital, their snide comments when the patient is finally subdued by the anaesthetic.
I see it. I see the way their shoulders sag and the way they hate talking about news regarding medical science. I see how rude they are to each other, to their nurses, to their students and even to their patients. And it means one thing: They are miserable.
Medscape’s Mark Crane recently revealed a study where it was found that doctors are miserable. Only 54% would choose medicine as a career if they could go back in time. It’s an American study, but I’m willing to bet that South African doctors would have similar results. Perhaps even more so.
Anycase, much of the cited reasons for the disgruntlement relates to finances. Doctors don’t “feel rich”, they earn a substantial salary but also have substantial debts to repay.
I hope that this reason will disappear off the radar soon. There is a perception that doctors are rich. Firstly, I’m really not sure that one should enter a field to get rich. But secondly, those days are long gone. Patients are poor. The economy sucks. Managed healthcare and medical aids are sucking the life out of healthcare professionals.
To prospective medical students: If you want to get rich, this is not for you. Medical school is one of the most expensive fields of study imaginable. It’s long, it’s painful, it’s expensive. If you want to get rich, you need to go into the stock markets, into business, into innovation. Not that you should do that to get rich, either…
This is a sad but true reason. Life requires paperwork. Lack of paper trails are the reason doctors have managed to give the wrong patient the wrong medication. Anywhere you go, there will be paperwork. I guess here we have to grow up and learn to deal. Or get an assistant (note, “intern” should not be synonymous with “paperwork scutmonkey”!).
But again, I’m going to be a little bitter about medical aid schemes here. The amount of paperwork they require and the amount of telephone-time they want is ridiculous. And they truly leach our patients of their money.
I had to make the decision to study medicine at the tender age of 18.
It’s a harsh fact that many of us decide to go into this field when we barely know ourselves. It scares me. I have so many other passions, and yes, sometimes I wake up and I dread going to the hospital. I don’t want to be a miserable doctor. But life sucks for some people, and we don’t always get to save the world like we dreamed to do.