Email This
Please enter a Recipient Address and/or check the Send me a copy checkbox.
Your email has been sent.
Your Name: 

Copy me on this email ()

Recipient's Email: 
Separate multiple email addresses with commas (Limit is 10).
Optional Message: 
The Differential

Being A Doctor is Not For You

Sara Teichholtz, Medical Student, 05:29AM Nov 7, 2013

Two articles were trending on my Facebook newsfeed this week. I agreed with both of them rationally, but it wasn't until I put them side by side that I realized I didn't really agree with either, for exactly opposite reasons. 

The first article, Marriage is Not For You, had a generally sweet message that a good deal of people I know seemed to think was worth passing on. Much to my dearest grandmother's dismay, I am still unmarried, so I know I don't have much authority on the subject. But something about the author's claim that “I want you to know that marriage isn't for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love” just wasn't clicking for me. It wasn't until I started reading another article that I realized that while I disagree that such extreme selflessness is what makes a good spouse, I do believe that it is what makes a good doctor. 

Which brings me to the second article, An Open Letter to Washington, D.C. From a Physician on the Front Lines. On first read, this seemed like a valid article, something I would've shared in the past.  It aimed, as the author writes in the last paragraph, to “illustrate the sacrifices doctors do make because I feel we are not represented when laws are made.” These sacrifices are ones that anyone in medicine can identify with: “lack of quality family time, our large student loan debt, the age at which we can practically start saving for retirement, and the pressure we face with lawyers watching every move we make.” However, these sacrifices are no secret to those who are discussing health care reform, and more importantly, no secret to those who make the willing choice to enter the medical profession.

Without any concrete suggestions on how he would like our leaders to address the points made in the letter, the article becomes exactly what the author did not intend: just another story about the difficulties of being a doctor and being successful in medicine. The author complains that "studies show that doctors lack empathy," but has he thought about how this article would be received by one of his patients, whose well-being he has promised to guard, who like him might be 6 figures in debt, but unlike him, has done so unwillingly and without the promise of a six-figure salary? How can we expect any sympathy in the health-care reform debate if we are not willing to first consider the greater difficulties of the very population we have sworn to put before ourselves?

As the author himself states, "many of the loudest voices in the healthcare debate are those of lawyers and lobbyists for special interests. They do not care about the well being of patients; that is what doctors do." I agree that it is time to add more physician voices to the health care debate, but not to make our concerns heard louder over those of our patients.

What are your thoughts on the article?

About This Blog

Medical school and residency can be a stressful, demanding time. These medical students share their insights and experiences, good and bad, in order to create a community of support and understanding for medical students everywhere.

Contact the Webmaster
Poll: Should we change the way Board Exams are used? Yes; it should be pass or fail and used for licensing only. |No; they are still the best way to judge our residency application and should be used for such.|Undecided |

  • Amanda Xi

    Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, Michigan

  • Alexa Mieses

    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York

  • Casey Sharpe

    University of Texas Medical Branch at Austin, Texas

  • Carl Streed Jr

    Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

  • Matt Wiepking

    University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

  • Rick Pescatore

    Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

  • Sara Teichholtz

    Medical School for International Health, Be'er Sheva, Israel

Olaseni Ajibade

Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, Georgia

Bryce Krishna Cragg

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas

Zoyah Thawer

McMaster University School of Medicine, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Abraar Karan

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California

Annie Chiu

Albany Medical College, Albany, New York

Felix Lee

University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky

Matthew Marschall

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2014 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.