I’m starting to wonder if there are any physicians that, once done with school and residency, love their job. I work in an ED and after talking with the majority of them, I have found that none, absolutely none of them would do it over again.
Has anyone met a physician that really likes what they do? I know some of the docs I work with can be nice but under extreme pressure while others are burned out with one that was downright rude to me and now won’t even talk/work with me (I gave him the nursing SBAR and he snapped at me telling me how anxious I get, I can’t bring it together when I talk to him, etc). The patients are nasty to the staff, had one this morning around 3 am that bit my head off and refused to have their vitals taken “GET THIS THING OFF OF ME!!” I was told, the timeline to get stuff done is getting shorter and with less and less people paying for their care (out of 10 people I see on any given night, at least 50% are self-pay which means “NO PAY”).
I’m curious, what’s the opinion of others here at my “fav” web site? I’m starting to rethink this and perhaps going to law school and protecting docs/nurses from losing their licenses at their respective board or cases that are against them may be more up my alley (NOT malpractice but the other side ~ like Saul Goodman).
Yea, pretty much the same in my ED. However, there are some specialties that come through that do, in fact, love their job. (I’m not a Doc though)
On the flip side though I have yet to meet a happy lawyer; here in Houston at least. Who knows in another part of the country.
On a positive note though, ED is ED. Meaning it’s not primary care, out patient services, etc. There will be people (staff, patients, housekeeping, etc.) that are miserable in their lives no matter what. It’s a different beast altogether and yes, we lose a LOT of money for our services to the public and community.
BUT if one picks a field that suits them well (one without say the high stress, deadlines, or maybe no call) then yes I do believe that it is worth it or at least have been told by those that are happy
BTW- I don’t think I’ve ever seen a physician unhappy or miserable in Plastics, lol!
I’m one that wouldn’t do it again. There are moments that I love what I do but overall feel the system is about production and throughput and not caring for patients. I’m good a what I do but spiritually dislike the fact that too frequently I am put in a position that I am torn between keeping my head above water administratively and providing the time to my patients, all while trying to balance just trying to see my husband an hour a day. That being said, I think I am getting better aT figuring out how to work the system to get that balance, which includes learning to say no to providers who want me to add-on their routine consult. I’ve had to learn to protect my schedule, even at the expense of feeling like I disappoint my colleagues because I can’t always say yes.
Overall I have it better than if I were in a private practice situation where I would feel compelled to work-work-work just to bring in the bucks.
You can look at any profession and find no shortage of people that are unhappy with their jobs (lives?). The ER that I work in certainly has a few docs that I’m sure are miserable for whatever reason, and it shows in their work, but I know plenty of providers in not only the ED but the rest of the hospital that are very happy with what they do, and it really does show. The two that have written me LORs have worked in the ER for 40 years combined, and always seem happy to be there, and have talked my ear off about what it means to be a doctor, even in today’s society. As the saying goes though, your mileage may vary.
Shin, you appear to equate happiness with quality of. Work, which I feel is an incorrect assumption. Many physicians that are unhappy are so because they feel they are put in positions where they have to work longer, harder hours in order to do the quality of work they feel is what their patients deserve.
The posters so far are speaking only of the ER, which is a very smell part of medicine, and practiced a very different way than other parts, such as a primary care practice, specialty practice, or surgical practice.
I can speak to primary care. The clinic I work for is a HRSA clinic serving the Medicaid, uninsured, underinsured, and indigent population. We have primary care, women’s health,pediatrics and a few part time specialties. As a whole, our doctors are very compassionate towards our patients, no matter how difficult they are or how low their health literacy is. We are pressed for time, and ALWAYS pressed for dollars. The motto is “We do a lot with a little.” and everyone wears multiple hats and struggles to get paperwork done so we can bill. I can only think of one doctor on staff who is unhappy in this setting, and he is a psychiatrist…not so sure he is real happy being doctor at all. There is some turnover with docs who just do not thrive in this environment, but the ones who stay…and several have been here for years, are competent, dedicated professionals who love their work. The patient population is not easy. Our clinic is in the “hood”. But there is a sense of “team” and a sense of purpose. For me, the hardest part about becoming a doctor is that eventually I will no longer be here in my job setting. However, I will keep an eye towards returning at some point, or working in another HRSA site.
Thanks for the words of wisdom from all who replied (and please keep replying)!!
I see what Dr Cook is talking about all the time; pressed for time, called for consults, demands by administration, patients who will not comply no matter what, etc. I love the idea of working in a underserved clinic, which is what I would do if I would keep going. However, I’m not so sure anymore. The hospital I’m at is losing physicians left and right, very good ones with lots of experience. The nursing staff has such a high turn over rate as well. Docs are pressed harder and harder. They’re only able to spend about 30-60 seconds with the patient, which is NOT why docs go into medicine. That’s why I was thinking of law since I’d help protect the docs against people who seek to do them harm. And with that one doc who got snappy with me now will no longer talk to me because I talked to my nurse manager asking if I did something wrong, if I’m in the wrong field, etc. yet I may need him to look at a stat EKG and if he won’t even talk to me yet work with me, where is the professionalism…I don’t think this is working for me. I’m wondering if this the new reality of medicine.
Keep the thoughts coming!!
My OBGYN absolutely loves his job and has no regrets…as do my friends who are surgeons, anesthesiologists, and hematology/oncology. Only one of my friends was unhappy…a pediatric hospitalist…and he says he simply picked the wrong specialty and knew it. So he put a few years in and is now doing a fellowship in peds orthopedics…wants to do sports medicine.
All the changes and increased demands are so important when considering your job plan…it’s so good to talk to those who have gone before us on this forum to make sure we know exactly what we are getting into, and that we don’t see things through an unrealistic filter. We all focus so much on getting there…getting trained…becoming a physician. How often do we really stop and consider what that part of the journey will really look like?
When I shadowed my oncology friend for the first time, I was shocked that he spent more time doing admin work than he did with his critically ill patients. He said it was his least favorite thing, but he’s a practice owner, and it’s part of the job. He reminded me to never fail to see the whole picture of medicine. “if you go in thinking you will treat patients all day, you will be sorely disappointed. See the whole pie, Carrie. What you’re jumping into? It’s only part medicine…”
I think its imperative to ask the kinds of questions posed on this thread. And I’m grateful for people like Tara…thank you for your honesty regarding the continual struggle for balance.
My happy physician friends? Well, one has a wife who is an np in his office…sees her all day. Another has a wife who stays home with kids and visits for lunch every afternoon…another’s kids are grown, and her husband is retired.
Thanks Carrie. You said what I meant better than me. There are moments when I love my job. I was approached last week by the family member of a patient I had cared for earlier this summer. She had a terminal GBM and presented post-ictal. Her brother-in-law stopped me outside of the hospital to thank me for the kindness with which I cared for her. He said that she had also commented on it. I had seen her on a Friday in the ER and added her into my full clinic the following week. It reminded me of why I chose medicine.
However, I struggle to maintain a balance. I work a minimum 11-12 hours on weekdays with 6, up to 10 hours, on weekends. I’m on call 15 days a month, and when I am on call, I am usually in the hospital on those days. Thus, I get a total of 4, yes 4, days off each month.
Today my patients sounded surprised when I was calling them on a Sunday.
Great thread. I’m sure all of us romanticize what we see ourselves doing as physicians. I am certainly no exception. Several of these types of questions have been plaguing my decision to start this path and depending on the answers I find they may prevent it all together.
I do believe some people are more predisposed to be unhappy regardless of their chosen profession and vice versa. But I also believe it has to do with what you conceive yourself doing before hand and what you actually end up doing. If you don’t fully appreciate all you will do as a physician, you will not be happy. Great questions to ask yourself.
Dr. Cook, first thanks for the honest thoughts! Second, you indicated on your first post that you wouldn’t do it again. I am wondering if you mean you wouldn’t pursue medicine at all? Wouldn’t be in a military situation? Or, would you do it again, but perhaps choose a different speciality and if so, which one?
I’m just picking your brain… Hope you don’t mind and being in Neuro I would hope not!
I see that the more a doc is doing the business of medicine and not seeing patients the unhappier they are. Those who drown in paperwork are the EM docs. The worst paperwork I’ve seen are military docs almost regardless of specialty. Definitely the more invasive the medicine, the more paperwork, the more the unhappiness. For a soldier who lost their leg from an IED the doc also has to fill out a slew of specific forms indicating they believe the injury warrants compensation. There are forms for everything and many are duplicates but go to different organizations and have to be filled out differently…and of course HAVE to be filled out by the doc. It is amazing any work gets done. I exclaimed to one of my attendings how I wanted to get into medicine and out of admin because of the paperwork so he had me shadow him on his admin day. Needless to say there is more admin than medicine and it’s something I am counting the cost for myself. It’s almost to the point of doing all this to get into and out of med school but knowing that I will be working as an administrator with a medical degree.
I just wanted to share with you, my husband is an ED doctor from Panama who is studying to take his boards here in the US. He loves his job specifically because he sees new people every day, doesn’t have to take his work home, as it were, and can never predict what he’s going to see next.
In Panama, being an ED doctor doesn’t require a specific residency (yet…they’re changing it though I hear). That means that he graduated from medical school, did his intern year, and then was able to practice as a General Practitioner. It was actually a blessing in disguise that he never did his residency in Panama, because that means that he’s fresh to do one here in the US.
I know it’s not the same situation, but I’ve worked in an ED in the US, and I saw a lot of Panamanian EDs during my time there and I have to say, it’s extremely similar. So he’s one statistic to add to the side of “docs who love their jobs.”