16 Major Pros and Cons of Being a Doctor

If you are looking for a job that offers high levels of employment security, then becoming a doctor is something that you should consider as a future career. Even during the worst of times in an economy, there is a need for doctors to treat illnesses, disease, and injuries. This profession has existed in every known human civilization. The processes that doctors follow today might be very different than what our ancient ancestors would consider to be modern medicine, but the desired outcome is still the same.

Doctors serve their patients and communities in a variety of ways. Some decide to become family practitioners so that they can become the first line of defense for adults and children who require care for daily concerns. Others decide to work in emergency rooms, pursue medical specialties, or get into research so that they can maximize the positive impact that their work can make every day.

The pros and cons of being a doctor show that this job is not an easy one, but it is also a position that can be highly rewarding. If you are thinking about a career in medicine today, then these are the key points you will want to review.

List of the Pros of Being a Doctor

1. Doctors can earn a significant salary for the work that they perform.
The salary that you can earn as a doctor depends on your experience, the specialty you practice, the setting where you work, and your geographic location. Most positions enjoy earnings which are about three times higher than the median wage in the United States. According to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for someone working as a family practitioner or generalist is about $190,000 per year.

If you decide to work in a specialty area, such as neurology, then your wages can be much higher. It is not unusual for someone practicing in this field of medicine to earn upwards of $700 per hour. Even if a portion of that income goes to the hospital or clinic where you work, you will discover that being a doctor is one of the more lucrative careers that are available today.

2. It is a job that comes with high levels of personal satisfaction.
The American Medical Association conducts regular studies to see how doctors are feeling about the work that they do each day. Around 42% of physicians say that they are highly satisfied with their career choice. Not only do they have the opportunity to help people achieve better health, but they also get the chance to perform research, get involved with ongoing training opportunities, and even save lives.

When you are working as a doctor, then you have the freedom to provide quality healthcare to anyone at almost any time.

3. The work you do as a doctor is very satisfying.
If you love to be learning all of the time, then being a doctor is one of the best career options that you could pursue. Attending medical school is only the first step in a long process of education when you become a physician. Even when you have been working in the same specialty for decades, there are unique situations, evolving technologies, and new treatments to learn about to make you a better doctor.

Dr. Kate Tulenko, Chief Executive Officer of Corvus Health, described this advantage to MedExpress like this. “You get to work in one of the most challenging and intellectually satisfying fields.” There is always something new to explore in the field of medicine, which is why it can be so much fun to be a doctor.

4. There are high levels of job security.
Artificial intelligence and automation are starting to remove jobs from numerous industries, but this issue does not impact doctors as of yet. This position is almost always relevant, especially since many developed countries have a shortage of people who want to work in this industry. The medical institutions of the United States are supplying about 25% of their open job opportunities to overseas applicants because there are not enough qualified candidates domestically to meet the current demand.

5. You can make a positive improvement I a person’s life.
Most doctors say that the primary reason why they started practicing medicine in the first place was so that they could have a positive impact on the lives of others. When you are placed into a position where your task is to care for the sick and injured, then it is a humbling experience because you are helping people on some of the hardest of days. Getting a chance to put a smile on their face can make their day better, which then makes your time at work very satisfying.

The exact impact that you can have on a person’s life in this field will depend on your area of expertise. Anything from a prescription to relieve discomfort to the completion of an organ transplant are all possibilities when you choose to become a doctor.

6. It is a job which requires a lot of teamwork.
There are plenty of jobs in the world today that require team cooperation. If you enjoy that kind of experience, then you will love being a doctor. Although you can be an introvert and still find success in this field, coordinating with nurses, social workers, and specialists allows you to create a treatment plan for each patient that can help them to start feeling better.

Let’s not forget that the patient is also part of the team, so you will get to meet many interesting people from several different walks of life throughout the course of each day.

7. You can live almost anywhere as a doctor.
There are not many professions which can offer this advantage, especially if you are looking for a high-paying job. You can move almost anywhere and still find work that meets your needs. If you live in a rural area, you might even make more than someone who treats patients in the city.

There are a few exceptions to this rule if you practice in a niche sub-specialty, but that is the only primary concern here. You have the power to control where you want to live and what specialties you wish to pursue with this line of work.

8. There are lower levels of physical labor required for this job.
There are several specialties in the field of medicine where doctors are not required to perform any physical labor. Some exceptions to this advantage exist, especially with orthopedists, radiologists, and cardiologists who can experience some back problems in the later years of their career. For most people, this job is not one which is physically demanding. You’re not working construction, training to be a professional athlete, or managing the dangers of commercial fishing to earn a high salary.

9. You get to choose the direction of your career.
When you decide to become a doctor, then you have control over what you wish to treat in your community. You can decide to be a generalist and become a primary care physician, or you can become a specialist and treat specific health issues as they arise. This structure allows you to create a practice that fits your passion and personality so that you can be immensely efficient at what you do. Whatever you can think of, there is a way to leverage your medical degree so that a successful outcome is possible.

10. It gives you a chance to retire quickly if you don’t like the work.
Let’s say that you put in all of the effort to get through medical school and complete your residency. Now that you are establishing a practice of your own, you discover that the work is not as thrilling as you thought it would be. If you find out that you really don’t like medicine after putting in all of the training, then you could leverage the higher income levels with this career to retire early. If you were to save like crazy, then you could feasibly call it quits after just 10 years.

List of the Cons of Being a Doctor

1. It takes a long time to become a doctor in the United States.
According to information supplied by Study.com, the requirements to become a doctor in the United States depend on the specialty you wish to pursue. Most people must complete a four-year undergraduate degree program to qualify for medical school in the first place. You must then spend another four years attending medical school to earn the right to start practicing medicine.

Once you have completed your institutional learning, there are another 3 to 7 years of residency training that you must complete before you are eligible to receive your medical license. That means it can take up to 15 years before you can open a practice of your own.

2. You are going to be working long and unpredictable hours in this career.
Many doctors find themselves working long hours each day and not having enough time to spend with their family and friends. Although the benefits package for most positions is extensive and lucrative, you will find yourself serving on-call responsibilities, treating people after-hours because of emergencies, and responding to calls at all hours even if your job duties cause you to maintain regular working hours.

Some doctors during their residency years can put in over 100 hours of work per week. Even though you get compensated for this time, the long days can quickly lead to significant stress levels.

3. There are high levels of job-related stress in this career.
Even though it is highly rewarding to be in a position to save lives all of the time, this role can also become highly stressful very quickly. You are always under pressure to make the correct decision in every situation even though the outcomes in this industry can be unpredictable at times. Some doctors become fearful that they could make a mistake, lose a patient, or encounter a situation that creates an uncertain outcome.

The National Center for Biotechnology found that 73% of young doctors with a role on their cardiac arrest teams say that performing CPR on a patient is one of the most stressful experiences of their job.

4. It is not unusual to lose more people than you can save as a doctor.
Another significant disadvantage of becoming a doctor is that many of the outcomes you will experience over the course of your career will lead to unfortunate results. You might find yourself in a situation where there is no advanced life support training available even though CPR must be performed. There might be a lack of documentation available to you to understand which treatments are authorized and what ones or not when you begin to treat a patient.

Because the doctor is usually the individual who notifies the family and friends of a loved one’s condition, they have the stress of this conversation to manage in addition to their personal reactions when trying to treat someone.

5. There are lawsuits to worry about as a doctor.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are another disadvantage to consider if you are thinking about becoming a doctor. There are about 2,500 cases of this type handled in the United States judicial system each year. Even though the plaintiffs only win about 25% of the time, the amount of stress that these issues cause, along with the potential hit to your reputation, can make it challenging to stay in business even if you have not done anything wrong.

Most doctors decide to carry malpractice insurance to guard themselves against a potential claim since up to 98,000 people each year potentially die from a preventable medical error. The size of your practice will depend on the amount you must spend for your policy, but a surgeon in California could expect to pay more than $35,000 for one year of protection.

6. You will encounter a substantial level of medical debt.
It requires a significant financial investment just to make it to medical school in the first place. You could find yourself in over $40,000 worth of student loan debt before you take your first medical classes. It can then be over $100,000 to pay your way through medical school so that you can begin to earn an income in your residence. This disadvantage does not need to be a barrier, but you will need to know what you’re getting yourself into before you start to sign up for classes.

Are You Ready to Become a Doctor?

The pros and cons of being a doctor show us that the rewards of being able to resolve an illness or save a life are sometimes countered by the stresses of performing emergency medical interventions or losing a patient. Although the money is pretty good in this career (especially in the United States), the long hours and time away from home can reduce the value enough so that an alternative job is considered.

Doctors have always been part of human civilizations because there is a direct need to treat illness and injury. As our population grows and more people enter the 65 and older age demographic, shortages in this field will create even more opportunities to pursue this career. If you like the idea of being able to help someone, then becoming a physician could be the right choice to make.

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.