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Wrong Reasons For Medicine


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Since I was in high school my parents reinforced the notion that pursuing medicine would put me down a path to be successful in life both financially and to be respected. Whenever I would discuss alternate careers with my father he would suggest that there are no jobs in the market for that particular career and that medicine provides stability and good earnings.

 

I guess my question to you guys would be if you're doing medicine for the stability, earning potential and prestige are those not reasonable reasons to pursue medicine? I'm not going to lie to myself and say that I have some intrinsic passion for the human body or that I sit at home and read medical journals for fun. After doing research for a bit I realized it's not for me and there is a renumeration problem in the field.  

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Sure, those are somewhat true points. But what's the use if you don't want it or aren't happy with the process of getting there? 

Wait until you're at university and hopefully have a bit more breathing room to find what things make you happy, and gain some more experiences. Nod yes to your parents, and do what you need to do for yourself. 

If during that process you still want to pursue medicine, then great, if not - then great as well if you are able to find something that resonates better with your personal desires, goals, and interests.

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I'm not sure if prestige is a good reason to pick a career.

 

Medicine has better earning potential than most careers, but also comes with a very substantial time investment. Large opportunity cost.

 

Some members here have suggested that it is harder to get a job than people seem to think.

 

Just things to consider.

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I would not apply to medicine if you truly think it's "not for you". Sure, it's great to have a prestigious career that pays well with good job prospects (and it is still good for most of us, especially if we are mobile). But medicine is also a challenging field in terms of stress, long hours, and long training. As a graduating student I can tell you that I love my future career, but it is not an "easy" career. That is exactly why it pays well and has good job prospects and prestige. My interest in medicine and in taking care of patients is what keeps me going through the tougher times and makes the whole thing worthwhile! 

 

Do some research. Shadow some physicians. Medicine is incredibly diverse, and you might find an area that really interests you. If not, I would look into other fields. You are the one who has to live your life, not your parents. 

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Who's to say what a wrong reason for choosing it is? I think prestige and money are perfectly valid reasons for choosing medicine. 

 

I'd think about what your priorities are. If happiness and satisfaction are near the top, then maybe medicine won't be the best career for you. 

pres·tige
preˈstēZH,preˈstēj/
noun
 
  1. widespread respect and admiration felt for someone or something on the basis of a perception of their achievements or quality.
     
     
    Going into a field to be respected sounds a little questionable:

    1. You're entitled to peoples' respect by merit of your profession, I'm not sure that being automatically granted respect is something I would take pleasure in. It's not respect you earned by your actions/words, it's respect you were granted by your title. Sure, you went into a hard profession and put a lot of effort into it, but so did a lot of other people in other professions. People expect that doctors possess many qualities, but this is not always the case (and these are qualities that you could demonstrate to people as opposed to qualities that people would assume you have because of your profession). 

    If the difficulty of the profession is the precipitating factor I'm also not sure if working hard just for the sake of working hard is something that deserves peoples' respect. There are many invisible people in the lowest ranks of society that work the hardest, and get the least amount of recognition. If you doubt this, imagine what would happen if the janitor that cleans up your university in the middle of the night stopped working. 

     

    2. Aristocratic attitude: seeing yourself/others seeing you as being in an elevated position in society because of your profession. 

    A. Does this mean you should be granted more respect than people in other professions? I think this is implicitly condescending; I've seen as many compassionate and brilliant teachers as I have doctors. 

    B. If so, aren't you really patronizing your patients by bestowing them with your valuable time? This could just make you a bad doctor. 

     
    3. If all of the above are true, isn't prestige just another word for ego trip? 

     

    Discuss

     

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Who's to say what a wrong reason for choosing it is? I think prestige and money are perfectly valid reasons for choosing medicine. 

 

I'd think about what your priorities are. If happiness and satisfaction are near the top, then maybe medicine won't be the best career for you. 

 

I disagree with your viewpoint, but hey you are entitled to it.

As someone who is going into med, after working for a few years in another health care profession, I can say (especially after meeting some med school hopefuls in undergrad and reading posts like this one) that it should honestly be mandatory to have real health care experience to apply into medicine.

I think medicine and really any health care profession where you are primarily doing clinical work with patients requires you to pursue it for more selfless reasons in my opinion. Medicine is not a gig you do to rack up some cash. You really need to have a passion and desire to get to the root of the problem, or you will just be one of those docs people hate, the one who spends 3 seconds with you in an office so he can cram in 100 patients per day and bill for them, who doesn't consider any options other than the standard same script he signs for everyone and doesn't bother to waste time and consider other options, until of course it's too late for the patient. We all know the type.

Now there is nothing wrong with good doctors receiving fair compensation for all their hard work and dedication to get into the field, and all the responsibility they take on. But that should be the prize at the end of the day. Not the reason some 20 year old decides to apply to med school. If you couldn't do the job for half the pay, or you chase money as the primary goal in life, then medicine is not for you. People want doctors who care, who are willing to go above and beyond and who have a passion for their specialty. You're dealing with real people at the worst time of their lives, where it is often about life and death, not working for some trillion dollar bank where the worst thing that might happen is some billionaire CEO loses some pocket change when the stock falls.

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In response to both of you:

 

 

If someone goes into medicine for an 'ego trip', does that necessarily make them a bad doctor? Yes, in a perfect world, all doctors would be the epitome of empathy but I don't see a morals section on the MCAT. If they perform their job well, then they're a good doctor. Who are you to decide what a proper reason is?

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In response to both of you:

 

 

If someone goes into medicine for an 'ego trip', does that necessarily make them a bad doctor? Yes, in a perfect world, all doctors would be the epitome of empathy but I don't see a morals section on the MCAT. If they perform their job well, then they're a good doctor. Who are you to decide what a proper reason is?

Lol the morals section of the MCAT is really the interview. 

 

I think medicine's like raising kids: it can be rewarding but at the same time it's stressful as hell. There needs to be an underlying driving force, you need to love medicine and many of the things associated with it. People love their kids and that's what gets them through the stress of raising them. 

 

You're gonna have to define what a good doctor is, medicine is one of those jobs that a robot can't do. If you think medicine's an eternal cycle of stimulus-*crunch data*-response then you need to explore the field a little more. 

 

Two reasons why doctors that are in it for ego trips/moniez are in it for the wrong reasons:

1. If you can fake caring, how long can you sustain that and what will be the first thing to fly out the window when the stress hits? If you cared enough to fake caring, then you kinda care, right?

2. As a doctor, you'll be practicing medicine for let's say 1/2 of your waking hours. If it's not a job you necessarily enjoy, even if you can do it well, you're going to be spending half of your life doing something that constantly tears away at you. You have limited time on this planet, if you spend a large part of your life in that state then I would imagine you'd be miserable, but if you can justify doing it to yourself then have at it. 

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I'd say the interview is more about assessing your social skills as opposed to your morals. 

 

 

So? Once again, who are you to decide what a good reason is for someone else? I wouldn't want to go into a profession that I did not have a passion for but I'm not other people. I'm not going to impose my opinion onto them. OP needs to decide what his/her own priorities are. I trust that the system and admissions process will weed out people who wouldn't be successful physicians. 

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I'd say the interview is more about assessing your social skills as opposed to your morals. 

 

 

So? Once again, who are you to decide what a good reason is for someone else? I wouldn't want to go into a profession that I did not have a passion for but I'm not other people. I'm not going to impose my opinion onto them. OP needs to decide what his/her own priorities are. I trust that the system and admissions process will weed out people who wouldn't be successful physicians. 

I don't even know what a "good reason" means and I'm not imposing my opinion on anyone, my first post was a list of questions and I want someone to present good arguments against what I said.

Also if people can have opinions then I can have opinions about their opinions

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I don't even know what a "good reason" means and I'm not imposing my opinion on anyone, my first post was a list of questions and I want someone to present good arguments against what I said.

Also if people can have opinions then I can have opinions about their opinions

My posts were relating back to OP.

 

Is someone wanting to go to an Ivy league because it's prestigious inherently wrong? I think you're over-extrapolating with the condescending thing. Even if it is, plenty of people can fake empathy for extended periods. Would someone with ASPD never be a good doctor? 

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In response to both of you:

 

 

If someone goes into medicine for an 'ego trip', does that necessarily make them a bad doctor? Yes, in a perfect world, all doctors would be the epitome of empathy but I don't see a morals section on the MCAT. If they perform their job well, then they're a good doctor. Who are you to decide what a proper reason is?

 

you don't see it on the mcat because it is supposed to be in the interview, personal statements etc, etc - of course we can argue about the validity of that but don't think they are not trying to test for it :)

 

Ok, so ego - good, bad? Like everything it does have flaws - people whose egos are are all wrapped up in their jobs are vulnerable to making a lot of different mistakes so they would need to be aware of it:

1) less likely to admit they are wrong because internally they don't like BE wrong as it is a direct ego attack. You see this all the day from ego driven doctors in the hospital (when the junior residency just happens to actually be correct over staff). That is known failure point in systems.

2) they can over estimate their own abilities and attempt to treatments or overcall their assessments. That can directly harm patients and actually does every day.

3) they are resistant to change that may reduce their role - opposing say health care teams because they are no longer the direct centre of the universe as it were as an example. If you master a technique are known for it, and someone else comes up with a better way that can be a bit of a problem.

4) Going to be hard basing everything on ego when very likely you simply won't be the best even within your local group - it is kind of crowded up there with brilliant hard working people.

5) More subtle but if you are highly effective, but by your presence you make all the people around you less so then the net result may not be positive (even if you don't automatically think that way). For instance if an ego driven doctor pisses off they entire floor team (I am not saying ego driven people are jerks, but I think I can say that ego driven people have a greater tendency to be jerks because they actually care about perceptions - and lash out a bit during stress -At least in my experience).

6) if an ego driven process is "all about you" I think it is fair to at least ask if they are going to go that extra mile for the patient.

 

Humility is often quite useful in medicine for a variety of reasons - it tends to create less mistakes for the reasons mentioned above. Same reasons prestige driven airline pilots cause plans to crashed into the ocean in the past before they they created system for equalize things (ha, the jokes they used to level at the co-pilot). 

 

Of course you can combat this with awareness and training - all weaknesses can be countered. The lack of awareness is the first problem.

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.

 

Is someone wanting to go to an Ivy league because it's prestigious inherently wrong? I think you're over-extrapolating with the condescending thing. Even if it is, plenty of people can fake empathy for extended periods. Would someone with ASPD never be a good doctor? 

 

If you want to be a doctor and go to  Ivy league university, that's fine. But this is not about where you study - it is about your motivation to practice medicine.  People's motives are, and should be, their own. What counts is an outcome - are you a good doctor or not?  It is possible, but hard to be good at something if your heart is not in it.  

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In response to both of you:

 

 

If someone goes into medicine for an 'ego trip', does that necessarily make them a bad doctor? Yes, in a perfect world, all doctors would be the epitome of empathy but I don't see a morals section on the MCAT. If they perform their job well, then they're a good doctor. Who are you to decide what a proper reason is?

 

Right. Reasons don't matter if one is a good doctor.

 

Admission process tries to pick up people with "right" motivation, just beacause the chances that they will develop into good doctors are better than in case of money-making machines or prestige-hungry snobs wanting to become one. It's not a judgement on people, just a balance of probabilities where the best chances for good doctors are.

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This is why I stress people need to have real experience in health care. Shadowing a doc around for a couple of weekends is not that. You will get a better taste of what it is if you work as a clinical aide for a summer (it's a job that requires a high school degree). Honestly, you will give yourself more exposure working as a clinical aide (you help out nurses do the skut work but also get to know the patients) than you would as a volunteer in the hospital library to be honest.

If you cannot see yourself doing the dirty work, it's not for you.

Because inevitably there will be ethical situations. There will be hard choices. If you are in it for prestige and payout, will you be one of the docs who takes in private paying rich international patients above Canadians who have been on waitlists? (it happens). If all you want is $$$ for your prestigious time, are you going to take the extra 30 minutes to consider an alternative or speak with another colleague?? (or will your ego dictate that you are right). If you go into med because you want to make 'Godly decisions' what are you going to say to the family who opposes your opinion on a life-death matter? Are you going to sell out to big pharma? Are you going to screen out the more "challenging" patients because they are wasting your precious $$ time? (i.e. family MDs who interview clients and don't accept the ones with too many co-morbidities because it will take too long to deal with). All these things happen. If you are in it for the wrong reasons you will ultimately not be a good doctor, even if you memorize all the textbooks and have all the 'knowledge'. It's also about knowing your own strengths and limitations, dropping the ego and collaborating with others, taking time with people etc.

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I understand your point, medhope15. But, I don't believe that someone who's partially in medicine for the prestige is necessarily an unethical person. 

 

The issue isn't someone who has factored in prestige when choosing medicine, there are multitude of reasons why people choose the field. The problem is someone who has been driven towards medicine because of money and prestige, which you have stated you see nothing wrong with (post #4). Medhope15 (and everyone else's) point is that the primary motivating factor should be something less self serving, because there are many problems that arise when one is driven by the "wrong" things. You seem to have a large problem with people deciding what is right or wrong, but I believe the majority of people believe it is wrong to go into medicine for primarily money and prestige due to the nature of the field. I don't want a doctor treating me because he wanted to collect a bunch of letters behind his name, and drive a nice car. You may argue that it doesn't matter why they're doing it as long as they're doing it well, but everyone thus far in this thread has made it convincingly clear why said doctors might eventually make unethical choices (their motivations are wrong).

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How might a patient discern between a doctor with the 'right' reasons from the wrong? Yes, someone in it for the prestige might be more likely to make unethical decisions but the key word it likely. How does prestige equal unethical? 

 

I agree with all of their points too; a doctor should be empathetic and ethical but that is my opinion. Someone else's opinion could differ and as long as they perform well as a doctor, I do not see why being motivated by prestige is wrong. 

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It's all about the balance of pros and cons for you. You can put prestige and high salaries on the pro list, as well as helping people, liking the human body, enjoying critical thinking/puzzles/ethics etc or whatever is relevant for you. But then you need to weigh all the cons including 1) very high stress at times, 2) a few years of training where working 24-26 hour shifts every 4 days (and 50-100 hours per week) is the norm 3) limitations on freedoms in your schedule (when you work and where you work and how much) 4) high levels of responsibility 5) tuition costs/debt. If you have enough pros to outweigh the cons then go for it. If you don't have enough pros then do something else.

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I agree with all of their points too; a doctor should be empathetic and ethical but that is my opinion. Someone else's opinion could differ and as long as they perform well as a doctor, I do not see why being motivated by prestige is wrong. 

 

Being a good doctor DOES include emphaty and ethics. I don't think it is just your opinion. Anybody who thinks differently?

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