Why I’m Not A Doctor

When a kid says, “I wanna be a doctor”, the process usually goes:

  • He graduates high school
  • Enters college and enrolls in some form of pre-med program
  • Goes through years of biology and other doctor-ish courses
  • Goes into the hibernation known as “studying for the MCAT”
  • Applies to medical school

Somewhere along that path 90% (actually I just pulled that statistic out of my ass)….but a LARGE percent of these “I wanna be doctors” never make it.

Most of them soon realize they either hate biology, they’re not smart or hardworking enough to score high on the MCAT…or that they don’t want to work so hard to be a doctor after all.

Unfortunately these realizations often come late in college…when they’ve already spent much of their college career attempting to be a doctor.

Well I’m Indian….which either means I’m destined to become a doctor or an engineer.  Both admiral….however as a high school student I couldn’t REALLY tell if I truly wanted to become one of these…simply not enough experience.

However, I was a fortunate little lad…my high school offered this class where you leave school for three hours every other day to shadow different types of doctors. This is nearly HALF the school day you get to dress up in scrubs and follow different doctors as they make their rounds.

This was a two year course…the first year being preparation, the second year actually following doctors.

The 2nd year came around, and it was SO COOL as a student being able to leave everyday in my car (we had special passes which let us freely walk around school).  We got to shadow an allergists, dentists, general practitioners, sports medicine doctors and a lot more.

By shadowing, I mean we followed them everywhere, including their rounds with patients.  Some places occasionally made us do bitch work (like organizing patient records)…but most places really made us feel we worked in the medical industry.

This was a REMARKABLE OPPORTUNITY for myself, because it made me realize something:


I quickly found out I had the same amount of empathy for others as a crotchety old man.

Have you ever had a great doctor who takes lots of interest in your medical problem?  Yea…that WOULD NOT have been me.

While I enjoyed leaving school for this, I really detested the whole aura of being in a medical facility.  I never think, “I’d love to spend 12 hours a day in a place filled with a bunch of sick people!”  It’s just not my thaang.

95 year old man slowly dying a painful death in a hospital?  PUT THIS GUY OUT OF HIS MISERY! Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep him alive? What’s the end goal of that?

Sometimes I just didn’t understand what the point was.  If I ever became a doctor, I’d be more like Dr. Kevorkian.

I must admit certain specialties such as the allergist had it pretty decent: He had very normal hours, mostly healthy patients (with the exception of runny noses), a family-like community of patients and staff, and roughly $400,000/year in profit. He basically owned a business he could eventually sell.  That was neat….

However the monotony of this got to me.  He enjoyed what he did….but it’s not something I would want.  It simply didn’t interest me.

It was around this time I started getting very much into business and reading about business men whom I admired.  The way they made money was scalable….the way doctors made money was much like how the janitor made money: by the hour.

This did not appeal to me.

A doctor has a very likely chance of making a great living for the rest of their working lives….but a business person can either go broke, do as well, or make it REALLY big….without necessarily having to be present all the time.

THIS appealed to me!

Blog posted on: October 8, 2010

18 comments on “Why I’m Not A Doctor

  1. Dale

    I hear ya Neville… Being Chinese, I’ve been strongly encouraged many a time to be a doctor. I instead rebelled and became and engineer :).

    But now I’m in the process of trying to figure out if I am who I am or I am who my parents wanted me to be… and I think I’m heading towards what you do!

    1. Neville Post author

      I really wasn’t a fan of the environment I’d work in.

      I also wasn’t a big fan of biology and anatomy, things which you’d spend years studying.

  2. Linda

    I especially liked this post. Very personal. You rarely get too personal.

    I’m different. I like medical facilities and I loved patient care when I was doing it as a research coordinator. I liked drawing blood and being empathic when patients complained. I like making people feel cared for. What I didn’t like is that every job has a learning curve and mistakes are unavoidable. However, mistakes in health care involved mistakes with people and their physical well-being. That = Not my thang.

  3. Jim

    Nice site. I’m becoming a doctor — and not becoming a doctor. In case that is confusing, I’m taking the “physician scientist” track in the field of healthcare; I want to make a difference, but my foremost passion is research. That’s why I’m spending an extra 3 years for a PhD, after all.

    Consider joint degrees before totally discarding the field of medicine. Stuff like MD/JD, MD/MBA, etc etc open up whole different worlds of opportunity. For me at least: staying in clinic for 12 hours – not fun. Staying in lab for 12 hours – not fun. Having one clinic day a week, where you can see your research directly applied to your patients right here and now – awesome.

  4. Neil

    Great post. Yeah, I’m Indian. Yeah, I spent much of my college life thinking I wanted to be a doctor. Yeah, I realized I don’t have the talent or dedication for it. But, I’m doing something I love now so it’s all good.

  5. Pingback: For those young job seekers, or you unemployed slackers | Neville's Financial Blog

  6. Kiyoko Brumit

    An allergist is a medical doctor with specialty training in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases, asthma and diseases of the immune system. Some treatments prescribed for allergy control the symptoms and reactions which do not cure the condition. However, using treatments according to the prescription can show a huge change in a patient’s health, mood and extension once the medication or treatment routine is working to control the symptoms. :

    My own blog site


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>