I interviewed username Wiki, an OB/GYN physician. She doesn't have time to write her own story, so here goes...
How long have you been a physician?
I graduated from UW Medical School in 1995 and started a four-year residency at the Mayo Clinic. During residency people called me ďdoctor, but it wasnít until after residency that I became a full-fledged practicing physician.
Do you remember a turning point in your life where you decided you wanted to be a doctor?
Iíve wanted to be a doctor since I was 5-years-old. No one else in my family was a doctor, but I wanted to be one.
Did you have any low points career-wise where you thought, ďI really shouldnít be doing this?Ē
No. In my last two years of medical school I had to do rotations in rural hospitals in Wisconsin. That got a little lonely, and I spent a lot of time hanging out at the local Target. Some parts of my residency were tough, too. Being on call every other weeknight and every other weekend was hard at times. But I never thought about giving up on becoming a physician.
What motivates you?
Most of the time Iím focused pretty hard on just getting the job done. I have protocols and patient histories in my head, and I donít spend a lot of time being introspective about my career. Itís rewarding work most of the time, and itís fun to be at the grocery store and bump into patients who are pushing a stroller around. Babies are much cuter a few weeks after birth than when I see them in the birthing room. This isnít the movies!
What is your greatest accomplishment?
My 19-month-old son says ďpeaseĒ and ďhank you.Ē But thatís a little corny. From a career standpoint, just getting through residency was the biggest challenge of my life.
Do you have a specific story about your best or most interesting patient?
HmmmÖ I deliver roughly 300 babies per year. So itís hard to think of just one. Itís a great experience when the father is there, being supportive. And itís a lot of fun when they get through the stressful times using humor.
Do you have advice for anyone who wants to become a physician?
If youíre in college, declare a life-sciences major like biology or zoology. Be well rounded. You donít have to necessarily get all Aís. Definitely donít do it for the money. If you do the math (education expenses, cost associated with entering the work force late, likelihood of being sued, and take-home pay per hour worked) it will just depress you. And the future doesnít look good for physician pay. If you want good money, just invent something or become a lawyer. Itís a lot easier to make money that way.
How do you choose a residency location?
Ultimately, they choose you. You can interview at residency programs and pick your top three, but those residency programs also pick their top candidates. Matching new MDís to residency programs is a secretive process whereby a committee takes your list of preferences, throws it out, and then they hash out on their own who goes where.
What does the future hold for medicine?
Socialized medicine is inevitable in the United States. The rest of the civilized world does it already because they are basically smarter than we are. Right now, if you canít afford health care, hospitals are required to treat you anyway (what are they going to do, throw you out into the street?). If you are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, then the government reimburses hospitals 17% of your costs. The other 83% gets ďeatenĒ by the hospitals, and they make up for this by raising health care costs for everyone else. When costs are shifted to people who can afford it, then everyoneís insurance premiums go up. So we are all indirectly paying for poor peopleís health care. That sounds like socialized medicine already, only now we send additional money to insurance companies and hospitals, and no one cares about preventative health care. Government may generally be less efficient than the private sector, but the current health care mess is even less efficient than that!
What does the future hold for your service and for you?
The future is uncertain. Health has become such a political issue that the medical field is in for big changes. Emotions run high, and rationality takes a back seat. The big question is how gradual will the process be?
Regardless of what happens I will still get the opportunity to share an important moment in peopleís lives, and around town I will still bump into happy patients and cute babies.
Finally, and most importantly, what is your favorite doctor-related TV show?
Definitely Scrubs! Itís the closest to reality of any other medical comedy or drama. The attending physicians really do seem to hate the residents, and residents really do deal with stress Ė by partying! I definitely had my own Dr. Cox at the Mayo Clinic, but I wonít say who it was!