I am currently a fourth-year medical student, and I will not accept mediocrity in my life any longer (and neither should you).
When you were growing up did you ever wish for happiness? Did you ask for a good life? Did you want to feel fulfilled and self-actualized? Yeah me too. We are meant to reach for the stars, we are meant to go for our dreams, and we are meant to climb mountains. What happened?
When I decided I wanted to be a doctor, I had this ideal image of how things should be run. I wrote a personal statement that provided my explanation as to why I wanted to dedicate my life to “help people.” I wanted to be able to hear any problem and work with my patients the best that I could. I wanted to be able to connect on a deep level and overcome any fears that my patients possessed. I wanted to develop trust with time.
However, I am sad to see that my future as a physician looks mediocre at best. My current role models do not have the time. Every physician I have worked with is well-intentioned, extremely intelligent, and fully capable of developing strong healing relationships with their patients, but the current medical model doesn’t support this behavior. The business and legal aspects of medicine have gotten in the way of the “health” in the word “health care.”
Physicians do not spend time with their patients. Physicians spend time doing paperwork, dealing with insurance and staring at lab numbers (this is not true of every specialty or situation, but this is the growing norm). Even worse, being a physician is increasingly becoming a risk factor for psychiatric issues and suicide. And why is that? I believe that money and fear-based legal thinking has become more important than actually healing the patient. I believe that the quantity of medicine has trumped the quality of medicine. I believe that we have forgotten about the most important unit of medicine, the health of our medical provider.
Have you truly seen a happy modern-day physician? Do you know what that even would look like? What would that entail? My dream practice would be one with controlled hours. I dream of having high-quality patient interactions, that are not rushed. I want to love all my patients and show them that I care. I want to practice what I preach. I dream of a model where as a physician I can make my meals, have time for exercise, meditation, and even spend time with my own future family and children.
Is this possible? If I were to subscribe myself to the current medical model, I am sad to say I don’t know if it is. Why must I give up on being happy? Why must I subject myself to a potentially sub-par, mediocre, or even worse, sad life? I am done accepting that being a physician is at best mediocre. I want to make active changes so we can build happy doctors. I want to be the change, so every physician can see it is possible!
Why is this topic of paramount importance? Because our patients are depending on us! Patients deserve happy doctors who as a byproduct will provide quality care. If we do not choose to find and actively seek options to improve our own lives, and yet expect patients to actively improve their health, we are being hypocrites. We must actively make changes to improve the care we provide, and if necessary, create the practice that envelopes all of our ideals. We cannot expect our happiness to be handed to us, it is in our hands to grab our happiness. No one can believe in our dreams more than us, they are our dreams. So please, please, please, I beg of you, get in touch with your inner child; the one who asked for happiness, the one who believed in healing people, and the one who believed in a dream.
I call upon you physician, resident, medical student, or pre-medical student, to not accept mediocrity in your life. Remember you deserve to be happy. Remember you are the commodity of the health care system. Remember that you can achieve change! But, it starts with you believing it is possible. It starts with you transforming your thoughts into action. It starts with you opening your mouth and discussing the issues. It starts with you implementing change in your own life and shifting your fear-based thinking, into action-oriented, goal-driven, dream achieving thinking. It is time for you to actually take care of you. Your patients’ lives are counting on it.
Taylor Brana is a medical student.
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