Are doctors more or less happy than other professionals? — Quora
I recently had an insight on how medicine is different from other professions.
I reached home after a 7 hours straight surgical session and spent another 2 hours driving back home. My wife reached home in her company chauffeured car at around the same time after extending her working hours for her team to meet some deadlines in office. The first words she uttered to me was:
“My team is driving me crazy at work. I’m gonna quit accounting after this project”
I thought to myself that I would never say the same thing about my work.
It has been quite busy for the both of us- my wife and I- since the beginning of the year. My wife is a senior auditor in major multinational auditing firm. I’m an Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon working as a visiting consultant in several hospitals but essentially being my own boss.
She has all the perks of being in a MNC- weekends off, bonuses, health insurance, conveyance, company events and also minions to do her every bidding. She is good at what she does and her company values her work. She recently won the award for the best performer for the previous year. She also earns a lot more than I am presently. I don’t have any of the perks she has at work and I drive my own car in horrible Bangalore traffic. By all metrics she is a successful auditor and I’m a struggling surgeon but I daresay I’m happier than she is professionally.
Despite my 7 hour surgery that day I was still excitedly talking about it to everyone in the family (a family very used to doctor-talk). My wife was bummed out from her overworked day. She said “Your enthisiasm tires me even more” and promptly collapsed in the bed to fall asleep. I spent the next two hours collating the photographs of the surgery I just performed on my computer. I stopped on one photograph which was taken by the OT tech when I was performing the surgery apart from the surgical pictures. This is a piece of art. I got a rare opportunity to look at myself doing something I truly love.
It is hard for me to see myself do anything more interesting than that!
I thought to myself
What a cool job!
Doctors have problems of their own and are constantly fighting government apathy, corporate greed and insurance companies whether in India, US or the UK. We have stressful work hours, few vacations, have emergencies to attend to at the most inopportune times, horrible bosses, have to suffer institutional politics and sometimes ungrateful patients. We have frustrations on a lot of things in our work just like in any other job- the very things that make people hate their jobs but I see less of this hate among doctors.
We don’t feel so awesome everyday and do crib sometimes. I remember I was putting in 100 hour weeks during my residency and fellowship while my classmates in other professions were globe trotting around the world and posting pictures of their exotic holidays on Facebook. I do admit to the pangs of envy about my friends in other fields.
Ours not a perfect life and certainly not for everyone but there are far better things in medicine average doctors witness in their lifetime to make up for all the sacrifices they make. We doctors don’t make huge impact like world leaders or celebrities but what we do for a living makes a meaningful difference, one patient at a time. Many are grateful like this old lady who brought me a homemade walnut cake and a thank you card to go with it for a surgery I had performed on her.
I would be lying to you if I said the cake was as sweet as it tasted to me!
Originally published at www.quora.com.