Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Studying medicine

As per title, today I would like to rant about how much I hate studying medicine, and why do I feel that way. Currently I'm a 5th year medical student, studying at a local public university. If all goes well, I would become a doctor in about a year's time. Sounds fantastic, no? No, it's not. Graduating and becoming a house officer (HO) is just the beginning of the miserable life of a doctor. Why? Isn't being a doctor a noble profession? You'll have the chance to help people, you'll get a nice “Dr.” in front of your name, people everywhere will respect you, and most importantly, you will have a secure job with a handsome salary (this is the main reason for most students). The salary of a house officer, inclusive of on-calls and other allowances, could easily exceed RM4000, while the salary of a medical officer (MO) would be north of RM6000. With that amount of cash, you could buy a decent car, a decent house, and you could go shopping every weekend, you could buy the latest hand phones, the latest gadgets, branded clothes, branded shoes, and lots of other things. But the problem is, would you have the time to enjoy the things you buy, when you have on-calls on every other day, and you only have enough time at home to eat dinner and go to bed, and wake up early the next morning just to go through another miserable day? Are you even free on the weekends to go shopping and have fun? I don't think so. When you've worked non-stop for the past 36 hours, exhausted from taking care of hundreds of patients, each with a different disease that you need to diagnose and treat accordingly, and being scolded by the seniors, the sister in charge, the specialists, and pretty much everyone else in the hospital, does it matter whether you're driving home in a BMW or a Perodua Kancil? When you're all tired and sleepy and all you could think of is your cozy bed, does it matter whether you had the finest sirloin steak or just a bowl of instant noodles for dinner before going to bed? When you're busy in the ward and you have to call various departments to help you manage your patients, does it matter whether you're calling them using your iPhone or the hospital's telephone? When you don't even have time to enjoy music or watch TV, does it matter how expensive your home theater is or how big your LCD TV is? In other words, when you're doing the very thing you hate every single day for the rest of your life, what are you actually living for? Is that the life you have always dreamed of? Even if you’re driving a Mercedes, living in a bungalow, can you really say you’re living the life? You may say "Why don't you work in the private sector then? It won't be as hectic, and the pay would be much higher". It's not that simple. First you are bound to work with the government for at least 4 years (2 years HO + 2 years MO). And then you need to continue with your masters, 'cos no private hospital would take a medical officer with 2 years experience to work with them. Let's say you need 4 years to complete your masters, and now you're a specialist, among hundreds of other experienced specialists. What makes you think the private sector would choose you instead of the experienced ones? So let's say you'll need to work with the government for another 5 years before the private sector finally accepts you. By that time you're almost 40. Now you only have about 20 years left to enjoy your life (I don't think life after 60 is going to be that interesting. How often do you see a doctor in their 60s going to the club in a shiny red Ferrari with a freakin' hot chick besides him?). I know that other professions aren’t easy as well. I know it’s not easy being an engineer, I know it’s not easy being a photographer, or a journalist, or a graphic designer, or a gigolo, but at least you’re doing something that you like. Something that you have passion for. It’s like choosing between tackling Fasha Sandha and Sir Elton John. Both would be difficult to tackle, and you would be a lot richer and a lot more famous if you tackle the latter, but do you really want to be Lady John for the rest of your life? (Assuming you’re straight. I don't have anything against gays by the way.). So think about it, and think carefully. Forget what the others say about having a noble profession with a good income, and being respected by the community and all of those bullshits. It’s not like they actually have an experience being a doctor anyway. Think about what you really want to do for the rest of your life, regardless of the income, regardless of the title, regardless of the amount of respect people have for you. Remember that it’s your life, and you’re the one who’s going to live it. So you are the one who should make the choice, not your parents, not your friends, not your siblings.

 You make the choice.


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