Being a doctor sucks sometimes, actually most of the time. People see the glamorous tv shows the long white coats and the shiny stethoscopes and think that being a doctor is always an amazing fulfilling experience. When truth be told a lot of it isn’t. They don’t see the hours spent staring at a computer screen putting in orders, or the nurse yelling at you for putting said orders in incorrectly. They don’t feel the stiff flat mattress with sharp springs that you lay on for 5 minutes before you are called to the bedside because a patient has a question that should have been answered by the day team. They don’t hear your pager going off non stop because everyone is trying to reach you, or the sound of your stomach rumbling because you can’t afford to order out dinner any more (also because your scrubs are getting too tight and you need to go on a diet). They don’t smell your body odor from working a 27 hour shift.
People don’t see the struggle, and people don’t talk about it.
And sometimes our patients are really sick and sometimes they die. And we beat our selves up about it, about how we should have been more diligent or repeated a lab, or gave a different med or called for help sooner. We question why the best people, who seem to have the whole world ahead of them have to suffer. Why little babies and young children have to practically live in the hospital, become potty trained in the hospital, lose everything in the hospital. And to protect our selves we often have to reduce our patients to just their diagnosis, because thinking of them living a normal happy life outside the hospital is too much to bear. It’s not fair and medicine sucks.
And people are afraid to talk about that part. The fact that medicine is hard and it sucks. Doctors are glorified as super humans or robots who don’t need food, or soft beds, or tissues to dry their tears , or a shoulder to cry on. And medicine is glorified and the bad is grazed over like vegetables on a toddlers plate. But doctors are humans, with feelings and families and our own god damn problems. And we need to acknowledge that, sit in the bad and the ugly because it is a huge part of the reality and package deal of becoming a physician.
And when you still are committed despite the bad, ugly, terrible parts of medicine. When you wake up everyday and can’t see yourself doing anything else , then you know you made the right choice. And the bad things, the things that suck about medicine the most are the things that drive you to be better and fight for change.
There are glimpses of hope..and often the good things outshine the bad things. There are day to day victories, like the transfer that goes smoothly, the patient that was sick that got better, that nurse that you thought hated you that helped you with a procedure and called you Doc instead of “hey you”. Those moments recharge us. But sometimes those moments can be far and few so it’s up to us to harness that positive energy and strive to make things better for those behind us. We can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves.