I work as a junior doctor, specializing in pediatric care. I chose to branch out to working with children two years ago, and have not regretted it for a moment. Before that, I worked as a foundation doctor for two years.
Many people describe their jobs as ‘work’, but my job is truly my vocation. I’ve wanted to become a doctor since I was about five years old and dressing up in my father’s much-too-large lab coat, and I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to fulfill my dream.
It’s not about the money for me, it truly is about seeing the look on a patient’s face when they realize that they’re going to be cared for. I work on average fifty hours a week, although that’s to be expected as I’m at the start of my career. Some weeks I work more, or less. It depends on the patients and the rotation.
At the moment, I’d rate myself as being 8 out of 10 with regard to job satisfaction. Although some days can be hectic, and the very nature of the job can be stressful both physically and emotionally, the tiredness is always a satisfying feeling. It means that I’ve pushed myself to my limits, and that people are better off for me having done so.
I wouldn’t have wanted to pursue any other career in the world. I know that many other professions out there help people greatly every day –firefighters, social workers and teachers, but to me, I love to help people heal. I’m a big history buff, so the fact that Hippocrates laid down the modern ethical guidelines for doctors today more than 2000 years ago; that blows my mind.
My father was a doctor, and my mother was a practicing nurse. As far back as I can remember, my earliest memories of him entail of him arriving home from his shift and telling me all about the people who he had helped that day. Although now, looking back, I know that he didn’t tell me everything, the stories that he told inspired me to follow this career path.
Since I had family who were already in the medical profession, I knew how stressful and busy the job would be. I also had several friends who graduated from medical school the year that I started premed. Their advice and guidance would be invaluable to me as I progressed through school. They always told me that the key to success was being organized –I wish I’d gone back and listened to their advice, as I believe I wouldn’t have been as stressed if I’d managed my time better. It’s definitely a skill that I’ve improved on the job.
However, they never told me about the strange things that I would encounter on the ward every week. The craziest thing I’ve seen so far was a police drug bust on a patient who was about to enter theater. Luckily for the patient, his medical needs took precedence and he was able to undertake the procedure.
Every day poses new challenges for me. It’s part of the reason why I could never have a normal 9-5 office job. I need to push myself every day to stretch my own limits. It could be a patient with an unusual condition, a heavy caseload or an emergency situation in E.R which requires all hands on deck.
The only thing that irks me is when people come in with injuries sustained while drunk. I’m not teetotal, but I don’t understand why people drink heavily and then try to perform tasks like driving or home decorating.
I’m happy with the money that I’m earning at the moment. I’m on just under $35,000 at the moment; but my supervisor is on about double that. Once I get more experience in the field, I’m hoping that I’ll get a pay rise or promotion. It can be hard to make ends meet sometimes –I guess the strange working hours helps with saving money– but things are never too tight to make do.
Although part of me wishes I could afford to take expensive vacations three times a year, the job satisfaction is more than worth it. I get about three weeks paid vacation a year, and I like to take a trip up to see my family in North Dakota. One day, I’d love to go to Paris.
To succeed in this field, you really need to want it – want the lifestyle, the stress, the emotional upheaval and the intense fulfillment – otherwise you won’t enjoy it. A patient deserves a doctor who really cares about their well-being, not about the paycheck that they’re taking home.
Being a doctor isn’t just a job – it’s a way of life.
Career path doctor image from Shutterstock