Finding Joy in Medicine

If you’re like most premeds, you’re a little concerned about what your lifestyle will be as a doctor. Surely, you’ve heard all the horror stories about doctors getting divorced, being unhappy, working 80+ hours a week. You love the idea of caring for human life but hate the idea of being miserable outside of the hospital. Can you have your cake & eat it too? To tell you the truth, I never understood that phrase. If I have some cake, of course I want to eat it! Well, I’m hear today to tell you that yes, you can have a great lifestyle and practice medicine. I’d say that most of my doctor friends are very happy with where they are in life. I know I am!

Media perpetuates negativity. It’s only been in the past 10 years or so that we’ve been hearing stories about how horrible it is to be a doctor. That lie is probably spreading so much because of social media. My reality is that being a physician is great. I wake up everyday excited that I get to care for patients. It’s one of the greatest joys of my life. However, as a doctor, that’s not all that I get to do, there’s so much more.

People ask why I chose to stay in academic medicine. “Don’t you want to make more money, why didn’t you take the private practice gig???” For me, it’s about so much more than the money. You can be happy in private practice or academia, you just need to find what fits you. My professional mission statement is to “Develop tomorrow’s leaders in medicine.” Achieving that brings me joy. While I can do that in private practice, it’s much easier for me to accomplish it when I’m surrounded by students and young doctors on a regular basis. It’s also important to understand that I am more than a doctor, and you will be too. I’m a person of faith, a husband, a dad, a son a sibling, a friend, a teacher, a coach, an innovator, an author, etc. It’s the culmination of all these things that make me wake up every morning excited to take on the world.

So, when considering if medicine is the right career for you, the first question to ask yourself is, “What is my professional mission statement?” Identify your professional purpose and find a career that will allow you to accomplish that purpose. Start with the end in mind. Don’t stress about the work hours, or medical school loans, or politics of medicine. There are ways to address all of those things. Your primary job is to identify your God-given mission. Once you know what that is, THEN figure out how you’re going to take it on!

For those of us doctors who have a clear understanding of our mission, being a physician is a dream come true, however it’s still just a part of who we are. We are more than doctors and know what we want out of life. To be happy, you must tend to all areas of your life that need attention.  That means finding a way to spend time in those areas.  Money is NOT everything.  I make the trade between money and time everyday.  Understanding the importance of spending time with people will make you happy.  Understanding that medicine is about helping people, will make you happy.  To find joy, your mission must focus on other people!  That’s the secret!

Do you have a professional mission statement? If so, please share it with us here. If not, spend some time thinking about it then share.

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Dr. Daniel

Great blog! I would say my professional mission is to empower those around me. I encourage my patients to take control of their disease and for those med students and premeds I mentor to believe in themselves.

3 months ago