Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Doctor's Sacrifice

I admit that I'm a newbie to this whole social networking phenomenon. I skipped the whole MySpace fad but couldn't resist signing up for FaceBook. I heard so much about people catching up with long lost friends on FB, and for the most part that is true. I've reconnected with friends from decades ago that I thought I'd never hear from again. It's fun to see how our lives have all taken different unexpected turns. In general, everybody's gotten a little heavier and a little balder (at least the men).

What struck me though was how different my physician friends are from my high school friends, specifically how we doctors delay our lives until much later to further our education and careers. Nearly all my medical school classmates have very young children like mine. We are all in our early forties but very few have children older than ten. Meanwhile, many of my high school friends have children that have graduated from high school and are now starting college. They have albums full of pictures of prom nights, high school field trips, first dates, first cars, first sports trophies. I'm still changing diapers at two in the morning and watching Elmo on Sesame Street.

By the time my youngest one finishes college and (if I'm lucky) graduate or professional school, I'll be eligible for Social Security. If they follow the same path as me, I won't see any grandchildren for another thirty years. My old high school friends by then will be posting pictures of their great grandchildren. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it for prestige? Is it for the money? The way the political climate is blowing, we'll have neither in the near future. Can we really say we have more satisfaction treating sick patients rather than starting a loving family of our own? These are all points to consider if my children ask me whether they should follow my footsteps and go into medicine.

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