Is Being a Doctor Worth It?
Although judging whether being a doctor is worth it or not is ultimately a personal opinion, students contemplating this career path need to consider how they would answer the question 'why do you want to be a doctor?'. The personal answers to this question may help students decide whether their career goals and interests are worth the time, money, and effort it takes to become a doctor.
Pros and Cons of Being a Doctor
Like any job, there are ups and downs to being a doctor, and opinions may vary on what constitutes as a pro or a con to the career. Depending on personal preferences, resources, personality, and other factors, some people may see a pro to the job as a con and vice versa. Below, we explore some of the potentially positive and negative factors of being a doctor in more detail.
Benefits of Being a Doctor
Many people may answer the question of 'why do you want to be a doctor?' with 'to help people'. One of the greatest benefits of being a doctor could be being able to tangibly see how you have helped heal a sick or injured person. Doctors who enjoy helping people also probably enjoy working with different patients and may like the challenge of solving a health 'puzzle' while working towards a solution for the patient. Job duties may vary from day to day, depending on the needs of patients, which can keep things interesting.
Doctors also have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of medicine that interests them, such as pediatrics, psychiatry, gynecology, and more. While salary may vary based on specialization, in general, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual wage for physicians and surgeons was equal to or greater than $208,000 in 2018. Not only are they paid well, but physicians and doctors have great job security, and the BLS reported a job outlook of 7% for physicians and doctors from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the national average.
Downside of Being a Doctor
One big downside to becoming a doctor is the large amount of education required. This education not only means time with hours and years of study but also money as aspiring doctors must find a way to pay for an undergraduate degree and medical school. Most doctors complete a 4-year bachelor's degree program, followed by a 4-year medical school program. After medical school, doctors must complete a residency program in their particular specialty area, which may vary from 3 to 7 years.
Other possible physical and emotional downsides to consider include the long and possibly irregular hours that may be required, depending on a doctor's place of employment, as many patients need around-the-clock care. It can also be hard sometimes working with patients who are sick and/or in pain, as well as working with their families. Some doctors may also experience death in their patients, which can have an emotional toll.
There can, of course, be exceptions to each of these cons. For example, students interested in becoming a naturopathic physician generally do not end up working in high-stress environments, such as hospitals. Another example may be a career option as a physician assistant. There are many physician assistant programs that help train students to perform many of the same duties as a physician but require less education and time than medical school.
Pros and Cons of Being a Surgeon
Surgery is a unique specialty for physicians that is worth considering the additional pros and cons for. Students interested in surgery may enjoy the intricate techniques of operating on various areas of the human body to help heal patients from injuries or disease. The BLS also stated that surgeons made a median annual salary of $255,110 in 2018.
Some cons for being a surgeon include some of the longest residency lengths for doctors. General surgery residency programs are usually 5 years in length, while specialty areas within surgery, like neurosurgery, may take 7 years to complete. Surgeons also need to stand for long periods of time while performing surgery.