Is it wrong to pursue a career in medicine for the salary?

Yes, I've heard the cliches "money doesn't buy you happiness" and "do what you love", but my question is why?

About me:
I am a junior engineering student who plans to purse a career in medicine. I figure that since I really don't have a passion for one particular subject I might as well choose a career with a salary that makes me smile. Basically, I can envision myself being interested in whatever subject I choose.to study.
My overall concern is not about getting into a medical school, but rather people's perception of my reasoning for doing so. When my pre-med adviser asks me the question "Why do you want to be a doctor?" why can't the first words out of my mouth be "income" or "job stability"?


Answers from M.D.'s will be greatly appreciated.
 
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I am also just a college student but ill give a stab at the question.
When you choose a career, you are essentially choosing your life (or at least lifestyle). Therefore, it is not bad to have money play a factor. That being said, it should not be the main factor for a few reasons. You have to realize that you will be doing this job for 40 years. That's a long time to do anything, and it will feel even longer if you do something you dont like. Imagine going *everyday* a job you hate for 40 years. It would seem unbearable. Also, if you are going to be a doctor you will obviously have to pass that daunting challenge that is med school. Though I obviously have no first hand experience, both of my uncles are doctors. They were smart, really smart, and went to one of the top med programs in the country. And they have said that their brains alone were not nearly enough to get through. Med school is a grind. It is years of difficult and sometimes painful work. If you do not love medicine and are not completely dedicated, you will not survive.

Hope this helps,
DR13
 
DR13 is along the right lines for the reasons that it might not be a good idea, particularly in a profession where you could end up working 12+ hour days - imagine disliking that yet having hardly any time to offset the balance by spending the cash.

It really depends what you're like as a person, I know, for instance, that I couldn't function properly in a job I really disliked. I've done it before and, even though I always try to work well, I end up being bad at it. But then, you might not dislike it - you might just not like it. Would you be able to hold enough will to keep up-to-date with the latest in medicine, go to conferences and learn new techniques, procedures and processes without being interested in it?

That said, I do know a couple of working medical doctors that don't particularly enjoy their work, but they've made attempts to get away from it as much as possible without losing the position. I.e. things like working as a medical researcher to minimise the amount of time they spend practicing medicine.
 
DR13 is along the right lines for the reasons that it might not be a good idea, particularly in a profession where you could end up working 12+ hour days - imagine disliking that yet having hardly any time to offset the balance by spending the cash.

It really depends what you're like as a person, I know, for instance, that I couldn't function properly in a job I really disliked. I've done it before and, even though I always try to work well, I end up being bad at it. But then, you might not dislike it - you might just not like it. Would you be able to hold enough will to keep up-to-date with the latest in medicine, go to conferences and learn new techniques, procedures and processes without being interested in it?

That said, I do know a couple of working medical doctors that don't particularly enjoy their work, but they've made attempts to get away from it as much as possible without losing the position. I.e. things like working as a medical researcher to minimise the amount of time they spend practicing medicine.
 
I figure that no matter what subject I study I will be putting forth my best effort. I am aware that it takes immense dedication to become a doctor and that medical school is no walk in the park. However, if I am just as competent as the next person why should my motives be of concern to anyone?

The way I think of it is as a successful arranged marriage. I'll pursue a career in medicine and, over time, my passion for the subject will grow. Again, I have no hate towards any particular subject, nor do I have an extreme passion (except for soccer lol). All I see are interesting topics in a variety of fields.

Thanks for the answers!
 
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I figure that no matter what subject I study I will be putting forth my best effort. I am aware that it takes immense dedication to become a doctor and that medical school is no walk in the park. However, if I am just as competent as the next person why should my motives be of concern to anyone?
Putting forth your best effort is easier said than done. Right now this is just an abstract thought so it is impossible to imagine what 4 years of med school followed by an internship followed by residency is really like. Competentcy will not get you through med school, rather it will be internal motivation, determination, and perseverance. (Or so I have been told)
 

Choppy

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I wouldn't worry about other peoples' perceptions all that much. It's what matters to you that counts.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a financially rewarding and stable career.

The big issue with medicine is more, whether or not you understand what you're in for. Yes you get paid the big bucks, but you also have to work longer days than most professions and that cuts deeply into the time that you would have for enjoying your money. You also have a lot more responsibility than other professions. A mistake can kill someone. You can face lawsuits from patients. And you can quite often be placed in a position where you have to make a call based on data that is biased, or extremely limited or even non-existant.

In reference to your question about the admissions committee you have to remember that it's in their interest to pick the candidates who will (a) be the most successful in their program and (b) do the most good as medical doctors when they finish. If you walk in and tell them you're in it for the money: (a) that's not consistent with the attitudes of previous candidates who've gone on to be the most successful in the program, and (b) why should they pick someone who's going to do everything in his power to drive up the cost of healthcare over someone who's going to cure cancer?
 
I think the pay/pain-in-the-*** ratio for being a doctor is probably not too great. As a number of people mentioned, you would probably be working nasty hours and have a lot of responsibility. Consider also that a lot of the people you'd be dealing with would be old and/or crazy and/or have some gross disease.

If you just want money there is probably a much better option than medicine.
 
Choppy - that was the answer I was looking for. I guess the admissions committee would want to see someone who puts the profession first and the perks that come with it later. I can see how this can leave a positive impression on them.
 
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I figure that no matter what subject I study I will be putting forth my best effort.
If you don't like what you're doing, it's really hard to put forth your best effort.

I am aware that it takes immense dedication to become a doctor and that medical school is no walk in the park. However, if I am just as competent as the next person why should my motives be of concern to anyone?
Because if you aren't really interested in what you're doing you won't be spending as much of your free time reading medical journals or improving your knowledge or skills.

The way I think of it is as a successful arranged marriage. I'll pursue a career in medicine and, over time, my passion for the subject will grow. Again, I have no hate towards any particular subject, nor do I have an extreme passion (except for soccer lol). All I see are interesting topics in a variety of fields.

Thanks for the answers!
It may grow, mine did. But I make my choice of career on what I really wanted to do, not on money. I've worked in jobs I liked and jobs I didn't like and I didn't put in nearly the time or effort at the jobs I didn't like as the jobs I did. To not be really committed to your career is more of a problem in medicine than in other fields because people trust you with their lives.
 
You're in for a world of hurtin' if you are going to pursue medicine simply for job security or money. The only way to keep your sanity as a doctor while having to regularly work 60+ hour weeks, weekends/holidays, while having to deal with tons of red tape, government bureaucracy, and non-compliant patients is only if you truly love what you do. The doctors that went into it for the money are the ones who are all burnt out by the time they reach their 50s, and there are a lot of them.
 
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HAHA! If that's your motivation to pursue medicine, you are in for a rude shock. I don't think you've thought about the implications. The poster above me makes some good points. Others to consider:
-Spending a significant amount of your time around other people's messes. You think about that for a few minutes.
-You will be surrounded by people a significant amount of the time who are emotionally distraught or in turmoil.
-The decisions you make DO affect the lives of your patients, mistakes can kill.
-You're essentially managing a business at the same time.
-You spend your workday attending to patients with problems ranging from a sore muscle to something life threatening, and then you do your paper work after hours.
-You are at serious risk of infection during any outbreak.
-Patients will die on you in the course of your career.
-It will affect your relationships.
-People will undervalue you, be abusive, and waste your time.
-Your role is to serve people. If you're not in it for them, you're in the wrong business.
 
A career in medicine isn't like another career where if you make a mistake, you can go back and change the mistake. Being a doctor deals with real people, and if you're not completely committed to serving humanity purely out of sympathy and good will, then you're not going to perform as a doctor. From what you've said so far, it doesn't seem that you have this dedication to humanity, the salary should not be the main motive for becoming a medical professional. Seeing as you're an engineering student, perhaps you could consider medical physics? As the salary for this is not bad, and you do not work frontline with patients, it's purely research.
 
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On the other hand, with an MD degree, you are in NO WAY limited to being a general practitioner or dealing with whiny people nor does the job require one be "completely committed to serving humanity purely out of sympathy and good will" as so many erroneously assume. Its as if too many have gained their ideas about what a doctor does from watching TV shows.

The degree offers one an incredible latitude of options - options of Your choice - and that is the real value of the degree.

And combine that degree with an MBA and you essentially have no limitations on your options in either the medical field or business.

The real benefit is that no matter where you go in the world, or what you do, you will have the means to support yourself.

And few positions afford one such a luxury.
 
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The real benefit is that no matter where you go in the world, or what you do, you will have the means to support yourself.
Well, once you pass the local licensing exam and possibly redo part of your residency. :smile:

There are a lot of legal niceties involved with being a doctor that makes it less portable than you might think.
 
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On the other hand, with an MD degree, you are in NO WAY limited to being a general practitioner or dealing with whiny people nor does the job require one be "completely committed to serving humanity purely out of sympathy and good will" as so many erroneously assume. Its as if too many have gained their ideas about what a doctor does from watching TV shows.

The degree offers one an incredible latitude of options - options of Your choice - and that is the real value of the degree.

And combine that degree with an MBA and you essentially have no limitations on your options in either the medical field or business.

The real benefit is that no matter where you go in the world, or what you do, you will have the means to support yourself.

And few positions afford one such a luxury.
TV sucks.
 
No matter how hard you hug your money, it never hugs back. ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
 
It is wrong to pursue any career for money. I think people work mainly to make money but not make a life are so wrong... Though there are lots of people of that kind.
Even though my family is far from rich, my parents encourage me to go for what I like, but not what is well paid.
 
It is wrong to pursue any career for money. I think people work mainly to make money but not make a life are so wrong... Though there are lots of people of that kind.
Even though my family is far from rich, my parents encourage me to go for what I like, but not what is well paid.
That's the opposite of my family, all they think about is a job makes a lot of money. Those greedy bastards...

To OP, do what you like or else you'll live a miserable life. Plus, you won't make it through med school anyway. Money ain't a source of good determination.
 
you could be a petroleum engineer, or a mining engineer at least in Australia they get paid very well, actually probably more than a doctor. But u have to work in isolated places.
 

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