High School Students & BS/MDPre-Med Academics

Reasons to Not Be a Doctor

In my last post, I shared reasons to be a doctor. The following are reasons to be not be a doctor.

The result of Medscape’s 2012 survey show that 54% of physicians would choose to enter medicine again as their committed career path. This percentage is shockingly low considering how many practicing physicians there are in our country. So why are so many doctors unhappy with their careers? Why should you not pursue becoming a doctor in the first place? Here are some reasons to not be a doctor.

1. Extensive school and training

To become a full-fledged practicing physician, you have to finish four years of college, four years of medical school, residency (lengths depend on specialty but usually at least 3 years) and sometimes a fellowship (lengths also depend on specialty). Until all of this is finished, you are not earning a doctor’s salary. Some people believe that all that time is not worth it.

2. Tremendous medical school debt

The average medical student debt in 2012 was $166,750. Because residents and fellows do not make a substantial beginning salary, it can take an incredibly long time to repay all that debt. Most likely, you will pay back at least double what you borrowed and it will take 10 plus years to pay it all off.

3. Decrease in autonomy

More and more, the ways doctors treat their patients are dictated by the insurance company’s willingness to pay for treatments or procedures. This conditional treatment frustrates doctors because they cannot offer their patients the proper health care they might need.

4. Work not worth the money

On paper, it seems like becoming a doctor is a safe way to make a lot of money. The Medscape survey, however, reveals that only 11 percent of doctors consider themselves to be rich. Many doctors feel like they are not making enough money because they are still paying off debt and spending a lot on malpractice insurance, not to mention a variety of other expenses. Doctors also think that they are being underpaid for the amount of work they do especially since the typical physician works longer than the standard 40-workweek.

5. Excess of administrative work

Most people become doctors to treat patients, not to do paperwork. Yet a third of physicians spend more than 10 hours a week fulfilling those duties.

6. Malpractice costs and lawsuits

According to the AMA, in malpractice lawsuits, the defendant (the doctor) wins 91% of the time. However, these cases can drag on for an average of four years and doctors need to pay for their defense that entire time. Malpractice insurance premiums are high and more and more patients are finding reasons to sue their doctors.

7. Stressful and demanding work

A lot is expected of doctors. Many doctors are constantly on call. Most doctors work more than 40 hours a week. Their work is stressful because they deal with sick and often frustrated people. They carry a great burden on their shoulders because people lives’ are in their hands. Numerous doctors feel overworked and stressed because of these pressures.

8. Difficulty of balancing work and life

Long hours at work means less hours at home with family and friends. Doctors can have very difficult time balancing work and outside life. This struggle plays a factor in the high divorce rate among doctors (29%).

Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of ProspectiveDoctor.com. He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to ProspectiveDoctor.com, please contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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