“I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.” It seems that everybody wants either to be a doctor or to play doctor.
There are “doctoring” nurse practitioners who some derogatorily call noctors; there are RNs who get a PhD, and are thus Doctors of Philosophy; and then there are those new DNPs, Doctors of Nursing Practice.
Of course, there are Doctors of Pharmacy, Doctors of Chiropractic, Doctors of Podiatry, Doctors of Optometry, Doctors of Physical Therapy, Doctors of Dental Medicine or Dental Surgery, and there are physician assistants who do a lot of what physicians do. In fact, when I interned at a military hospital, we knew that the Navy corpsmen were a lot more skilled than many of us young MDs.
From my mail, and a lot of physician discussion boards that I peruse, it seems that the main Americans who don’t want to be doctors are many actual doctors. They are the MDs who say they wish they had chosen some other field or just want out, what with all their torment with insurance companies, the government, and lawyers.
Many say that they advise young people not to enter medicine as a career.
Fortunately for the medical profession, and for the public, those disgruntled docs seem to have little influence with anybody, including students.
Why do people want to go to medical school?
First, because they like science and are good at it; second, they wish a level of autonomy and self-control; third, they have self-esteem and desire a position of good standing and respect in a community; fourth, they do wish a high income level; and fifth, they really do like people and are motivated to help them.
Of course, some may just be trying to please their parents.
With all the fuss in and outside of medicine in 2011, I find it gratifying and reassuring that the number of students who have applied for admission to American medical schools is the largest ever — 43,919 individuals applied for 19,230 slots, a ratio of 2.28.
There were increases in applicant numbers for African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos, and large numbers of Asian-Americans, with the total number of self-described “white” being 63%. The male-female ratio was nearly 50%. Average GPA was 3.5 and MCAT, 29.
The future of the American medical profession is still looking pretty good as viewed through this vital prism.
George Lundberg is a MedPage Today Editor-at-Large and former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Originally published in MedPage Today. Visit MedPageToday.com for more health policy news.