Life is often viewed as a competition where resources and opportunities are limited. This is especially true for health care professionals, who must navigate the delicate balance between their professional responsibilities and their personal lives. The challenge becomes even greater when factors such as competition among family members and the rise of artificial intelligence threaten to disrupt the traditional roles and relationships that have defined humanity.
Geography plays a significant role in determining access to health care, with those living in underdeveloped areas often facing the greatest disparities. The increasing availability of digital media and exposure to the lifestyles of more developed regions can lead to discontent and frustration among residents of these areas, who may have yet to be aware of the opportunities that exist elsewhere. However, health care professionals may still be called upon to work in these areas, serving those who cannot leave for more developed regions.
The competition for admission to graduate medical schools and the matching process for medical doctors to marry can be intense. This can be further complicated for competitive medical spouses, who often have competing careers and face difficult decisions at the altar and as their marriage progresses.
For medical doctors, the expectation of working a full-time equivalent of 2,080 hours per year may not be feasible, particularly during their graduate medical education in the United States and other countries. Additionally, caregiving for dependent kin, such as young children and aging parents, is a 24/7 responsibility that requires more than one person to manage effectively. To balance their professional and personal caregiving responsibilities, competitive medical spouses may need to arrange for professional help, such as daycare, boarding schools, or nursing homes, for a minimum of 2,080 to 4,160 hours per year.
The decision to remain child-free, while sometimes seen as a solution to the environmental crisis, can also have implications for the stability of families and society. Over time, humans have practiced celibacy, contraception, and sterilization to avoid procreation when they perceive a mismatch in resource allocation. However, this is not always possible, so children may be raised by paid professionals rather than their biological parents. The future generations of these children, who are raised by a paid caregiving system, may become the system’s children rather than the children of their biological parents. This alternate reality may also pose a challenge as child-free generations of competitive spouses age and become dependent on the caregiving system themselves.
Ultimately, the current era is characterized by a natural selection process, with individuals choosing to prioritize their personal legacy over procreation. At the same time, the steady expansion of artificial intelligence threatens to reach a point of no return for humanity.
Deepak Gupta is an anesthesiologist.