Does America really need another miserable doctor? One that won't prescribe opiates even if s/he believes their patient is truly in pain? One that spends 6 hours a day doing Insurance/HMO/Medicare paperwork, in addition to the 8 hours spent seeing patients?
I think not.
I was miserable, my co-workers were miserable, I had no reason to believe that this state of misery would change any time soon.
I had a rare day off from my residency program, and tried to relax by doing some stream fishing. Well, those few hours fishing did little to relieve me, but I did and up making a startling revelation while traversing the riverbanks, but it would take a day before I realized what it was.
I followed the stream where it went under a bridge. Under the bridge were two homeless fellows, drinking some rot gut whiskey. I joked with these guys while I fished through the area they were calling home. I finished my day off fishing and went back home--dreading the next day back at the hospital.
It was early the next day back at work that I realized an important life lesson--so clearly & obviously demonstrated to me.
The two homeless guys were dirt poor, probably mentally ill, likely alcoholics, BUT THEY WERE HAPPY ! ??
My coworkers at the hospital were well educated, rich (by most people's standards) and some of the most miserables SOBs in the world.
My revelation was that although I did NOT envy the homeless men's lifestyle; I certainly did not envy the lifestyle of a physician.
There had to be a happy medium: somewhere between having enough money & responsibilities and having enough time off to be human and enjoy life before dying.
Less than 2 months later, I had another job that did not require an MD, and only demanded 40 hours a week from me.
I am no longer miserable, but am enjoying my life again.
I have recommended to my friends from med school to leave medicine, and try to be happy. Unfortunately, they are married now with children. Their spouses & children are accustomed to a certain lifestyle now, having a certain amount of disposable income.
They are entrenched. They are trapped.
I would wish them happiness, but I know better.