I still remember the pen I was holding on that day.
In a government school, just besides a dirty pond, in surroundings that could look up to poverty as their rich cousin, sitting on the floor, I was asked to write ‘what I wanted to become later in life’ by my class teacher Elizabeth in my sixth class. I wanted to write "engineer; but was worried that I could spell the word wrong and ended up writing ‘doctor’.
Almost after 20 years from that day, I become a cardiologist. You may say destiny, but I say nada. Just please look at my state of mind then: I was in no way prepared to answer the question posed to me. I dare say that I did not know what I wanted to become even after my tenth class.
So, when my four year son comes to me and says that he wants to become a doctor, I laugh it off (mistake). I should rather try and help him to make that choice, at least later in life, when he will be forced to show his hand.
By now, I know some inside stuff about doctors and I can try to dispel some myths about the life of doctors:
Myth #1: Doctors earn a lot of money:
While it is true that 98% of doctors live better than the average citizen and the rest 2% don’t admit the fact, 99% of the doctors don’t make it to the Forbes’ list of anyone either. Now-a-days, a lot of professions give more money and frankly the amount of time a doctor puts in to become a super-specialist (I put in 15 years) and the amount of hard work she puts in to sustain her practice will perhaps ensure that she is a success even in a different walk of life, considering a similar commitment.
Myth #2: Doctors are social heroes:
This stems from the fact that doctors are quite well respected in the society. But a decline in respect that hit all the professions hit doctors too. Blaming the doctors for patients who do not get better is on the rise and violence and malpractice claims are taking a toll on the doctor-patient’s relations. Most doctors do not and cannot attend many social events and you may say that many doctors who do are not capable of an intelligent conversation without showing off their ego.
Myth #3: Doctors are the most satisfied lot in life:
This is far from truth. Most doctors aspire more than whatever they have got (be it money, fame or fulfillment) until very late in life, so they are persistently unhappy (but most can easily pretend to be not). Whatever satisfaction that they get from the lot of treatment successes will be marred by relatively few failures. The kids of doctors are in a perpetual quandary in that their parents have a lot of money and less of time to spend. Without extending the working hours, a doctor cannot have whatever he is after, and there is absolutely no scientific yardstick for a perfect balance in life. A doctor faces enormous stress in his life time.
Myth #4: At least doctors can maintain their health and that of their family members’.
As the saying goes, doctors are the worst patients. They seldom eat what they preach, they don’t have time to exercise and worst of all, they don’t get regular checks done nor take the prescribed medication regularly. Surprising? Ask your doctor friends!
Myth #5: Considering the above discussion, one can conclude that I am not happy with being a doctor and that I will energetically dissuade my kid from becoming one.
Like most doctors, I derive indescribable pleasure from a satisfied patient. I am happy where I am in life. And I will not discourage my son from becoming a doctor, if he can tell me a good reason (I don’t think – independent of each other – money, fame or fulfillment are good enough reasons) to become one.
Most doctors are like me. They acknowledge that there are certain disadvantages with the profession, but don’t repent being a doctor, and continue to strive to serve the patients better every day.
To put it simply, a doctor cannot earn a lot of money (or fame or self-satisfaction), if he wants to enjoy his life will family and friends. If one becomes a doctor with one of the above objectives in mind, one may feel dejected. But may be the same thing applies to all other professions and one has to choose what to become based on one’s own aptitude rather than consideration of money or fame.