Top 10 Reasons to Be Happy You’re a Doctor

April 1, 2009

We know it’s tough out there, but you still have one of the world’s coolest jobs. In case you forgot why, here’s our reminder.

We know it’s tough out there. So many physicians are feeling underappreciated, overworked, and out of breath that, judging from our mail, one might think that being a doctor is not one of the world’s coolest things to be. But it is - really.

Don’t believe us? Check out our list of reasons.

10. You get to do cool things most people will never have the chance to do. Surgeons cut open living people to remove pathology. By doing so, many people who might otherwise expire, don’t. And frankly, no matter what your specialty, you are critical to furthering the life spans of your patients. Here’s a telling quote we saw on the medical blog “I figure I save about one life a week, on average. And I’m just a psychiatrist.”

9. Your medical training prepared you for a successful life. How self-disciplined were you before you started med school? How about now? You’re also likely to be a good decision maker simply because you must do it constantly in situations where the stakes can be high.

8. You relieve more than just physical pain. Particularly in primary care, you address your patients’ vulnerability to not just disease, but also to loneliness, fear, and anxiety. True, a disturbing number are noncompliant with the help and advice you offer, but never doubt the effect you’ve had on people who survive and thrive simply because you bothered to listen.

7. You have influence. Just by virtue of your profession, you earn respect in your community - not as much, perhaps, as previous generations but more than you might think. You can use this power to effect real change in your community, and not just on healthcare issues. You’re smart and accomplished. People will listen to you, so pipe up.

6. You have actual job security. Yes, the recession has hit every sector, including healthcare. But even employed docs who lose a job don’t stay out of work for long, unless they choose to. There are way more people who need doctors than there are doctors.

5. You’re free to move about the country, as a certain airline says. The physician shortage means you can decide to work virtually anywhere you want.

4. You can diagnose yourself. Of course, we think you should see a doctor - and not just the one in the mirror. But who’s a more knowledgeable patient than a physician? You can apply that knowledge to making the best decisions for your own health.

3. You’re never bored. Boy, it’s always something, isn’t it? Remember the time that woman had her baby in your waiting room? Or the kid who managed to stuff a golf ball up her nose? Physicians have great stories.

2. You’re always in vogue. No matter how the fashions may change, lab coats and scrubs never go out of style. Even if you’re just happy your white coat covers the coffee splash on your shirt, to the general public the coat still carries the cache of being the uniform of the folks people trust with their health - and often, their lives.

1. You make a difference. Despite the specter of denials, malpractice, and overwork, you still have a job that provides a genuine service to the public, with tangible results and healthier patients. “My favorite thing,” says family physician Rob Lamberts, “is the human-to-human contact. I am really part of a person’s life, not just superficially. Quite a privilege.”

Abigail Beckel is managing editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at

Shirley Grace is a former associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached via