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Many advantages and disadvantages come with being a doctor. Some of the career's most notable rewards and challenges include income, prestige, helping others, job-related stress, long work hours and legal challenges.
Like any other workers, doctors enjoy the ups and downs that come with the flow of a long career. For every positive experience with helping patients and giving back to communities, there is a flip side that can hamper job satisfaction.
Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of a career as a doctor.
Salary, which varies according to experience, specialty, and setting, is an advantage for physicians. Most physicians enjoy above-average earnings. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, family and general practitioners earned median annual salaries of $184,390 in May of 2015.
A study conducted in 2002 by the American Medical Association showed that physician satisfaction varied by specialty; however, in general, about 42% of physicians showed satisfaction with their career. Other factors that contribute to personal satisfaction may include research and training opportunities and the freedom to provide quality healthcare.
Doctors often cite long training periods in medical school and the high tuition costs associated with it as a disadvantage. Time remains an issue even after earning a medical degree, since physicians often work long hours and don't have as much time to spend with family and friends as they'd like.
Just as saving lives can be rewarding, the responsibilities that come with being a doctor can be stressful, such as making a mistake, losing a patient, or fearing the loss of one. According to a 2002 article appearing on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, 73% of junior doctors on cardiac arrest teams found cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) stressful.
Individuals surveyed note that stress was due largely to unfortunate outcomes. Other issues included the failure of senior staff to give 'Do Not Resuscitate' orders for applicable patients, no advanced life support training prior to performing CPR, or simply just having to perform the procedure. Doctors also reported that they sometimes find it difficult to discuss CPR with patients and their families.
Medical malpractice suits are another disadvantage. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 2,500 medical malpractice cases were handled in general jurisdiction courts in 2005. Although plaintiffs won less than one-fourth of the cases, medical malpractice suits can still sully a doctor's reputation.
The advantages of becoming a doctor include high salary and personal satisfaction; but disadvantages include time consumption, stress, and lawsuits.