Article Date: 1/1/2009

To Be a Doctor
UPFRONT

To Be a Doctor

JASON S. SLAKTER, MD

In the 1970s and 1980s, the top college graduates fought for admission to law school or medical school. These professions were perceived as the pinnacles of success in our society at the time. In the last 2 decades, however, the "best and brightest" were drawn into the world of finance and Wall Street, lured by the prospect of huge monetary rewards and the possibility of a lavish lifestyle. Last year saw all that come to an end, with the economic crisis and the associated massive job losses and pay cuts throughout the financial sector.

In just the last few months, I have heard more and more people talk about how they are reconsidering what they want to do with their lives. Many younger people are looking again toward medicine as an opportunity for a more secure and stable occupation. Of greater importance, these changes in the economy have caused many to recognize the satisfaction they might achieve in the medical profession beyond simple financial reward. This change in attitude brings to mind an encounter I had as a member of a residency admissions committee almost 10 years ago.

At that time, we had an applicant who had been a successful investment fund manager who had decided to pursue a career in medicine. He had come to the realization that while having achieved financial success, he was not experiencing the desired level of personal satisfaction in his work. He described his dilemma as follows: "I was moving money around from place to place but not really helping anyone in the process." He had taken a hard look at his life and decided that what he wanted was to make less money and more significant contributions to society. I am pleased to report that this young man is now a successful, enthusiastic, and, more importantly, satisfied member of the ophthalmic community.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Without doubt, we face significant challenges in our profession, including more stringent regulatory requirements, ongoing malpractice concerns, and potential decreases in reimbursement. In spite of these difficulties, there is also no question that we derive great benefits from the work we do in helping our patients to see better and experience more enjoyable lives. As we start the new year, I think it is a good time to reflect on all of the positive aspects of being a physician: the expectation of a comfortable lifestyle, a high level of job security, and, most importantly, an almost unequaled sense of personal fulfillment and gratification.

This month, Retinal Physician welcomes three new additions to its editorial board: Michael D. Ober, MD of Southfield, Michigan, Anne Fung, MD, of San Francisco and Diana V. Do, MD, of Baltimore. We thank them for their willingness to share their insights and expertise in these pages for the benefit of the subspecialty.


Retinal Physician, Issue: January 2009