• Fri, Apr 27 2012

Almost Half Of All Doctors Regret Their Career Choice

Sad Izzie StephensApparently you need to think long and hard before you sign up for those 12+ years of training that go into being a doctor. While it may still be one of the most distinguished professions with the best guarantee for a triple-digit salary, it obviously has some drawbacks that are making those in the medical profession unhappy.

In a recent study published by Medscape, 46% of doctors said that they would not pick a career in medicine if they could go back and start again. That is a whole lot of regret.

The study itself cites decreased pay for many physicians as a primary reason for the displeasure among doctors. After all, their six-figure salaries are down approximately 10%. However, I find that to be a puzzling conclusion.

Even if you work at the lower end of the specialties, family physicians and pediatricians still average over $150,000 a year. Orthopedic and neurological surgeons reach above $300,000. And even with all of the legislative debates going on, healthcare is the single largest growing industry in the country, and its profits only look to be increasing. Just ask anyone whose worried about the solvency of Medicaid and Medicare, health costs certainly aren’t going down in the US any time soon.

If these doctors were simply worried about finances, I can’t imagine another profession that would guarantee them the type of income that they are accustomed to. Lawyers have had a hard time of it in the current recession. Entrepreneurship is a fundamentally risky career path. Finance hasn’t seemed like a stable or enjoyable profession for a while now, unless you enjoy the hatred of all humanity. I don’t think there’s another career path out there that could guarantee you a more stable financial position for the rest of your life than practicing medicine.

Now, there is an argument to be made that you have to go into so much debt to become a doctor, that the huge salary doesn’t seem to be make up for it. That’s an issue that many in the medical community have brought up and it can be an obvious impediment to many who would like to pursue their MD. But should we really inflate doctors salaries simply so we can make up for inflated educational costs? Wouldn’t reigning in medical school spending be a little more practical?

Maybe this isn’t a money issue at all, although that’s sometimes hard to believe. Maybe there are other industry factors that causing serious concerns for physicians and surgeons. The same report notes that doctors spend an average of 10 hours per week filling out paperwork, as opposed to helping patients. And I’m sure that we can blame pushy pharmaceutical reps, overzealous WebMD users and helicopter parents for a little of their frustration as well.

No matter what the cause is, I have to admit that it’s a little troubling to think about the people I trust with my health and the health of my daughter having second thoughts about their career calling. Let’s hope that my doctors aren’t scrolling through CareerBuilder next time I’m trying to talk to them about that sharp pain in my hip or the suspicious new freckle on my back.

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  • fig

    I think the pay is more of an issue if you have crippling student debt, high costs of malpractice insurance and shitty hours that lead doctors to have one of the highest rates of divorce.

    Plus, the quality of life issues are huge. Its impractical to start a family til after your residency is done… when you’re what, 30… good luck if you haven’t found the right person yet.

  • Not Another One

    An actually doctor would be better at explaining why other doctors might regret this career choice. Medical school spending? There’s no such thing. Try doubling student loan interest rates and subsidized loans being off limits for graduate students. A profitable healthcare industry doesn’t always trickle down the doctor either.

  • L

    Its also to do with some of the thankless, ignorant and continuously complaining patients that many doctors must deal with. You make these enormous lifestyle sacrifices all throughout your 20s till your mid thirties all to come out with a huge student lone, limited social life or youthful experiences, a sleep debt the size of Everest and then must deal with patients who seem to feel that you deserve next to no fee for your service, ever increasing overheads, law suites, paperwork and office hours.

  • L

    Its also to do with some of the thankless, ignorant and continuously complaining patients that many doctors must deal with. You make these enormous lifestyle sacrifices all throughout your 20s till your mid thirties all to come out with a huge student lone, limited social life or youthful experiences, a sleep debt the size of Everest and then must deal with patients who seem to feel that you deserve next to no fee for your service, ever increasing overheads, law suites, paperwork and office hours.