Doctors are not only literal life savers, they work crazy hours, sacrifice years to training and do it all while trying to manage personal lives of their own.
A career in medicine is arguably one of the most challenging and difficult jobs, which requires long hours and tiring work. And it takes a toll: Research shows doctors are highly susceptible to burnout, depression and poor sleep. That’s why it’s important for patients to not only learn about their doctors but understand the work that they do.
In honor of National Doctors Day, we asked a few physicians to share what it’s really like to work in the medical field and what they want their patients to know. Take a look at their responses below.
1. Doctors understand the importance of their work.
“Becoming a doctor is the greatest honor I can imagine. As a cancer survivor, dedicating my life to taking care of sick children and their families is an enormous privilege that I’ll never take for granted.” ―Shira Einstein, 2018 MD Candidate at Oregon Health & Science University
2. Your physician isn’t unfeeling, he just need to practice stoicism for his own peace of mind.
“Dealing with the suffering of patients day in and day out can lead us to hold back emotionally and make us seem less empathetic than we really are.” ―Keith Humphreys, psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care
3. It’s frustrating when patients trust health advice that isn’t rooted in facts.
“For patients, parents, policymakers, etc. responding to prevalent vaccine hesitancy ... [I want them to know] vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective, vaccines save lives.” ―Dean Blumberg, pediatrician and associate professor at the University of California, Davis
4. A doctor’s job involves more than just seeing patients.
“Being a doctor goes far beyond the time we spend directly caring for patients in the clinic or hospital. As an ObGyn, I also spend a lot of time advocating for women’s health by helping shape policy, teaching, and conducting research.
It is important for people to realize how many different factors influence their health both directly and indirectly, such as understanding how policies like cutting National Institutes of Health funding may affect their health.” ―Maria Isabel Rodriguez, OB/GYN and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine
5. There’s a lot of bias in the field.
Especially for women of color.
The issue came to the forefront recently when a Delta flight attendant didn’t believe a black woman was a medical professional after she volunteered to help a sick passenger on a flight. Many doctors took to social media to share their own similar experiences.
6. They’re continually learning new things.
“It’s challenging when you’re constantly being pulled in different directions and when you can’t simply leave your work at work, but I can’t think of a more rewarding career. I am constantly learning more about medicine, about people, and about myself.” ―Marilyn Tan, endocrinologist at Stanford Health Care
7. Their biggest wish is that you never have to see them.
“Physicians want to prevent diseases before they start, so make healthy food choices, exercise daily, get at least eight hours of sleep, don’t smoke, wear your seatbelt, go for regular check-ups and get your vaccines.” ―Catherine Hough-Telford, pediatrician and member of the Pediatric Health Care Alliance
8. They want patients to recognize that they have personal lives, too.
“Try not to delay calling for prescription refills and minor issues to Friday afternoon, we also get worn out and want to go home. Also, try not to call first thing Monday morning with minor issues. I come in to a pile of calls from the weekend and if there is something that could wait a day, that helps me get it done.”―Paul Thompson, chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital and professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut
9. Nothing grosses them out.
“Gynecologists don’t care if you haven’t shaved and don’t mind doing a pelvic exam when you are on your period.” ―Valerie French, OB/GYN in Kansas City
10. They wouldn’t want to be in any other profession.
“Even on my most challenging, busy and frustrating day, I can’t think of a more rewarding and satisfying profession to be in. I feel blessed to have the opportunities to take care of patients and families, to teach and learn from students and residents and to have a role in crafting and influencing policies that benefit the health of children.” ―Dean Blumberg
Be thankful for the doctor in your life today! (And every day, let’s be honest.)