I was up, the paperwork done, and my hand on the door.
“Doc, I have just one more question.”
“My grandson is in medical school, and he wanted me to ask which field of medicine he should go into.”
Before I could answer the patient added this zinger:
“He wants a field that has good hours and pays well.”
I was busy and behind, so initially, I offered a politically correct, get-me-out-fast kind of answer. Something along the lines of, I am sure he will find a rewarding field of medicine regardless of the pay.
But then I couldn’t help myself. Â I wasn’t that far behind; I’m in.
Since you asked, here are some nuggets for your grandson:
Tell him that the joy of medicine is not the financial security but the satisfaction of using hard-won skills to help others. Â These skills might be modest and technical, like placing burns in the left atrium, or extraordinary and near-magical, like the ability to convince a sedentary patient to move, or a Speaker of the House to quit smoking.
Tell him that my happiness quotient as an impecuniousÂ medical student or resident is the same as it is now.
Tell him that the best doctors I know are passionate about knowing more medicine not gathering more treasures. Â (Med-students take a lot of modules, maybe they should have to pass one on Thoreau’s masterpiece,Â Walden.)
If your grandson persists in his desire to prove the nay-sayers wrong: that money can buy you love (of medicine), tell him to find a field of doctoring that takes MasterCard or Visa. Who knows, he might like fixing teeth, reshaping eye-balls or making people look better in the mirror.
Oops, now I am farther behind.