How Do I Really Feel About My Full-Time Job As A Doctor?
I need to think this answer through, it has come up more than once in my circles where someone suggests that I hate my job and that I should just quit.
Let me first deal with ‘hating my job’ and then we will tackle the logistics of actually leaving my job. It got me thinking a lot after someone yesterday confronted me about it very matter of fact.
I’m trying to think about the things I hate around me and there isn’t much, hateful isn’t really part of my internal vocabulary. I’m generally pleasant to be around though I admit that when I’m at my job I can be a bit more curt in the sense of being to the point but not so much rude.
I feel really strongly about animals suffering in mass production farms, I feel strongly about human lives being ruined by our foreign policy and I feel strongly about those who suffer violence. And yet I don’t even hate the perpetrator, they have lived a life with a series of circumstances that have led them to being the person they are; I have no doubt that if I lived their life I would act out in exactly the same way.
So maybe whoever thinks that I hate my job is simply meaning to say that I dislike it so much that I am end-stage miserable. Perhaps to the point that my misery is spilling onto others around me. Let me approach it from that angle.
In the greater context there are certain things we have to do in life. A person needing income must work a job or generate self-governed income, a breastfeeding mother must wake up in the middle of the night to feed the little screaming fetus, and the person who cares for a straight smile must brush and floss daily.
If one wants to enjoy a healthier life with longevity then engaging in regular activity and avoiding junk food along with Netflix marathons is important. Even though one dislikes getting out of a warm comfortable bed in order to be active there is an immediately feeling of gratification and a long-lasting effect when doing so (usually).
I know it seems like I’m trying to justify my job but lemme ‘splain. Forgetting everything else about my job and focusing on just treating patients, I fucking love that part. I would do that for free every single day. This is something I can’t communicate well to anyone else or maybe I just don’t express it enough out of lack of gratitude.
I’m grateful for this feeling, I am grateful for connecting with a patient, I’m grateful for that smile they give me at the end of the visit, I’m grateful when I can strike up a genuine, random conversation with a patient. I’m grateful when we can sit there despite the hectic urgent care schedule and talk a little about diet and exercise. I’m grateful for the hug from a little kid who I finished sowing up.
From a selfish perspective I love that feeling of being on the top of the food-chain. I get to set the pace, I get to place orders and direct my staff to do whatever needs to be done. I get to make the final decision about what will or won’t be done for that particular patient. It’s an absolute privilege and a feeling that gives me a high.
What I dislike, what really bothers me and makes me feel suffocated is when I work with staff who could give a rat’s ass about a patient and will do whatever they want. They will make inappropriate jokes about patients right outside of the patient’s exam-room door, they will joke about their names, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation or their appearance. I also don’t do well with patients who come in demanding something and treating me like I’m their iPhone.
So for me to quit my job because of the aspects I hate would mean that I would give up the things I love about my job. It’s either that I’m not ready for that sacrifice or the right circumstance hasn’t presented itself for me to make an exist. And believe me I’ve considered it, here are the jobs I could see myself doing if I didn’t do medicine.
Uhm, yea, the dog poop thing… let’s just not talk about that.
Recently I’ve been getting very anxious in exam rooms, most visits go fine and I discharge the patient, everyone is happy. In some visits I feel the walls closing in towards the end of the visit, my heart starts pounding, my mouth dries up, I want to swallow by can’t and I start sweating all over. It’s a crazy feeling, my muscles start feeling like jello and there is nothing I can do but just surrender to it until the visit is completed.
Yes I know that’s anxiety. It happens a few times during each shift. I try to go for a walk after seeing a few patients, I do push ups, I do dips, I drink some tea or whatever. I realize that these feelings are perhaps the reason some around me think that I should just drop the mic and walk off.
I am in a bit of denial ain’t I? It’s not good to be in a situation where one feels so emotional about their job. The right thing might be to take a leave of absence for a while. I’ll admit that I’m not ready to do it, I’m partially afraid just because I’ve gotten so accustomed to working, it defines me. Leaving it, even for a while, could also mean that I may never come back to it… that’s perhaps even more scary.
What about the financial aspect? I’ve addressed this before. In my situation my overhead is low enough that I could generate adequate income from any other non-medical job. I reached financial independence sometime this year, if I wanted to I could set up a monthly income stream from my investments which could carry me well past a traditional retirement age.
I was hoping to end this post without answering the question but I can’t can I? I’m like the abused spouse who loves their partner, loves the idea of that person but they feel taken advantage of or disregarded, yet continue to stay in that relationship because they are hoping there is something salvageable.
If I could step outside of myself for a moment to overcome all the excuses and justifications I would advise myself to leave my current job, get a job in some manual labor gig and just enjoy the freedom for a while until there is an opportunity or need to reevaluate. Anyone need a handyman?