I received an inquiry yesterday questioning the very notion of entering medicine.
I’m heading into my second year of college as a computer science major. I was perusing through your blog, and was inspired to apply to medical school. I’ve always had an interest, but some random articles on the internet discouraged me because “it’s not worth it.” Simply, I wanted to ask for any advice you would give for someone who passionately wants to work in the medical field, but is afraid it might not be worth it.
Medical school is not something you enter with the intention of trying out. It’s a costly commitment in terms of time and money, and with health reform currently in the limelight, physicians are under increasingly growing scrutiny. It’s not a profession to enter for pride or financial gain, but rather, genuinely wanting to make an impact on the lives of others – whether it’s direct patient contact, teaching the next generation of docs, research, or a combination of everything – in spite of all the hardships one must endure in training and practice.
As a pre-med, it’s nearly impossible to garner experiences which are representative of a physician’s practice. Shadowing surgeries and rounding with hospitalists is not enough. Spend time with a medical billings secretary and see the paperwork associated with a single office visit, read up about private insurance and Medicare/Medicaid issues, learn about how defensive medicine and the overall cost of healthcare are intimately related, and consider the landscape of medicine several decades from now in terms of job security and compensation. You’ll realize how much responsibility there is OUTSIDE the doctor-patient relationship which often detracts from the very reason we’re here – to help patients return to their physical and emotional states of well being. So while seeing patients gives us the romantic aspect of healthcare, one must consider whether he or she can tolerate all aspects of this career before choosing to pursue it.