“The Dark Side of being a Doctor” By: Warda Idrees Ch

The journey to becoming a doctor is one that is well-known to put enormous strain on one’s body, mind and not to forget, one’s wallet. Therefore, the decision to go into medicine must not be taken lightly and a lot of factors need to be considered before committing to this field. Some people have known their entire life that they wanted to become a Doctor. For others, making the decision can be difficult. Thus here are a few truths that anyone going into medicine should be aware of:

Sleep is for the weak
You will start losing hours of your sleep from med-school and your body and mind will have to adapt accordingly. Time is a luxury medical students don’t have. Pulling one or two-all-nighters will become increasingly common as the load of studies increases. Sadly this torment doesn’t end after graduation. Modern working arrangements have brought into existence the ‘week of nights’ where you work 4 or 5 and sometimes 7 night shifts in a row. Almost anyone who’s experienced this will tell you that it’s pretty inhumane. The most common topic amongst doctors doing night-shifts together is often changing specialty or leaving the profession; however things do get better once normal daytime duties are assigned.

Goodbye Weekends
It starts in med-school when the work starts to pile up, and weekends are sacrificed to meet deadlines and for exam revision. Once you start working as a junior doctor you’ll find yourself, on more than one occasion, working out where your on-call weekends have landed and who can swap with you so that you can still go on that holiday or get married or whatever. There will be weekends when your non-medical friends will be having a barbecue or spending the day at the beach whilst you sweat it out in a ward wondering why you chose this field.

Choosing Priorities
As a doctor, your job usually takes priority and you simply cannot shirk your responsibilities simply because you have prior engagements of a personal nature. Weddings, birthdays, family gatherings etc can be missed simply due to the inability to find someone to swap an on-call weekend with. Apart from sickness or bereavement, your first priority will be to your profession. Your friends and family may find that difficult to understand at first but they will eventually accept it, especially once they stop inviting you altogether.

Mistakes and Criticism
You will make mistakes from time to time in this field and there will be times when you have to withstand an onslaught from senior doctors who feel that teaching by humiliation is the only way forward. Interns are known to suffer from depression and anxiety to the extent of being reduced to tears after suffering embarrassment time and time again. You will feel like an idiot at times and if the thought of that frightens you or you’re someone who doesn’t handle criticism well; you should promptly pick a different profession.

Death of Creativity
Not many people admit this but medicine takes people who are often very creative and turns them into workaholic, automatons that have little room left in their lives for creativity. Most of medicine does not allow much creativity in its day to day practice and beats any desire for creative thinking right out of you before you even realize it’s happening. Of course whilst accepting this fact you must fight this tendency and attempt to keep up your other interests, otherwise, medicine will undoubtedly invade everything you do.

Doctors get sick as well
You may not know it, but you’re joining a profession that has high rates of physical and mental illness as well as drug and alcohol misuse. Doctors are also less likely to seek help than other professions which all adds to a rather worrying picture. Although ill health isn’t guaranteed in a medical profession you should realize the future risk now and take steps to formulate good lifestyle habits to minimize your risk factors. A good network of non-medical friends should also protect you from neglecting your own needs while you’re treating your patients.

By: Warda Idrees Ch

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