If you turn on your TV on any medical drama series, you will learn soon enough that doctors’ lives are both extremely challenging and glamorous.
One minute they deal with a life-or-death situation, their decisions and skills being able to save lives. The next minute, you see them enjoying the direct benefits of choosing the medical field, the high-end lifestyle they lead, and the inherent rewards of being one of the most respected professional in the world – since the dawn of time no less.
Nevertheless, how are the real lives of doctors? Is all glam and spectacular medical breakthroughs? Today we will look at the pros and cons of being a doctor, trying to understand better what challenges and opportunities they have to deal with every day.
1. Medicine is a Calling and a Very Satisfactory Job
At a first glance, some might think that people choose to become doctors for social status and money. However, while money is important and we will talk about them in a few moments, it is not pragmatic to choose a medical career if money is your main goal. You have tens of well-paid professions that do not require from people to spend a decade or two studying, investing their own money in their education, fighting to get the best possible grades, and giving up a personal life only to become a fully certified doctor.
A survey conducted by the American College of Surgeons showed that most experienced medical professionals would choose their career again if given the chance. Medicine, in their opinion, is a calling, the perfect way to satisfy one’s thirst for knowledge with the incomparable satisfaction of serving life itself, of alleviating pain, of giving back something greater than yourself.
Beyond personal opinions there are facts and figures confirming that doctors’ job satisfaction increased in the past year in comparison to previous years. The 2017 Medscape survey on doctors’ job satisfaction shows that 8 in 10 U.S. physicians confirm they would choose medicine again.
2. The Payment is Very Good
Doctors’ income continues to climb and the job outlook for many medical specialties is outstandingly positive in comparison to other professions. We cannot ignore the income – it is an important component leading to job satisfaction. If we take as example the hefty neurosurgeon salary – one of the highest ones among all doctors’ salaries – it is safe to assume that neurosurgeons score high on job satisfaction questionnaires.
What few people say (but all doctors know) is that in order to reach those salaries, neurosurgeons made incredible sacrifices, faced burnout and debt, spent decades learning and practicing, dealt with losing patients, and gave up plenty.
As payment concerns researchers studying job satisfaction in doctors, the new 2017 results show very important trends that will benefit young and aspiring doctors: the gender gap in payment, while it still exists, it also narrows down visibly. Moreover, doctors working in rural areas in the U.S. earn more money because states encourage doctors to practice in nonmetropolitan areas. The poor and the socially vulnerable people need the same care and states are making sustained efforts to offer proper healthcare.
3. Medicine is an Ever-Challenging Field
Doctors live now in the probably most interesting, spectacular and challenging era of all times. With the technological breakthroughs available every day, medicine sees her most glorious days, finally finding answers to problems nobody knew how to answer before. Surely, as medicine solves a puzzle, three other dilemmas arise, and this is why to be a doctor in this period of human evolution is both challenging and breathtaking.
Scientists in the fields of medicine, engineering, technology, and genetics work together to make the world a healthier, happier place, and the steps the world took forward are small in comparison to what dedicated doctors will learn in the future. Progress in all fields is visible every day and we have to thank doctors for that.
Doctors are some of the most respected and rewarded professionals and their benefits cover all bases. They are personal, spiritual, social, and financial in nature. This, however, does not mean that doctors have an easy life. Some of their worst enemies are bureaucracy and burnout – two elements that disrupt their personal and professional satisfaction.
Burnout in Doctors is of Public Concern
Doctors’ lives are not easy. Besides the many years spent on schooling and training, many young residents face debt, depression, symptoms of burnout, and insecurity regarding their future. A 2017 Medscape study on burnout shows that many medical professionals are at risk of developing burnout syndrome.
Exhaustion, chaotic schedules, overtime, confusing healthcare policies, the constant threat of malpractice suits, and the burden of working in a challenging environment where healthcare and insurance have a strong political side to them, and not being able to cope with stress lead doctors to the path of depression.
While the main cause of burnout in all studied professionals seems to be bureaucracy in its entirety, doctors struggle also with family problems, too many work hours, and more.
On the other hand, data shows that doctors would become doctors again, against all odds, proves once again that the medical profession comes with more advantages than disadvantages. Some may lead glamorous lives and for all the right reasons, while others gave up their worldly possessions to cure rare diseases in remote places on Earth – they all feel the same level of satisfaction as they honor the Hippocratic Oath.