Medicine outside of working hours
On SDN, bythesea asks, “Do you value the patient over everything else”. Having strong feelings on this very topic, I decided to also post my response here on my blog-
This is what makes the medicine field so taxing and draining. If the patient is not your priority, you better get out STAT. Otherwise, you can kill someone…literally. Medicine is not a career where you can just flip a switch when you walk out the door and forget about all your patient encounters. Your patients have a tendency to follow you out the door and creep their way into your consciousness at the dinner table, in your dreams, and on your golden weekends. You can find yourself on some beautiful beach 5000 miles away with 2 days left of your hard earned vacation and feel your stomach twist in knots at the thought of being on 24 hr call the Monday you get back. And when you get back into the full swing of things, you will be asking yourself when you come home at night if you made the right decision in treating Mr. Jones ailment? What happens if he gets worse? Should I have ordered test X? If not and Y happens will I be held liable? If it is not your patients then it is reading up on them that will keep you close and dear to medicine. Failure to constantly be reading and keeping up in your field will be detrimental to your medical duties as well and time not spent reading will emerge as guilt. I equate this to how a schizophrenic must feel with the voices that are always in the background singing their haunting chorus, except in our cases it is to read, read, read. And in my specialty at least, you always have to be thinking ahead of how you are going to tackle the next set of patients you will be seeing the next day. As I mentioned before, medicine is not “just” a 60-70 hr a week job. Add in the above and you can tack on another 20 hrs or so. Take all these hours in a year that medicine occupies your body and mind and divide them into your upcoming socialized govt annual gross income and you will really wonder if going through all this is really worth it anymore. Medicine will truly suck your soul. More than you can ever presently imagine.