Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

The role of the doctor

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 15 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:0

Becoming a doctor

Becoming a doctor is extremely difficult. A medical education is like an
ultra-marathon. There are four years of college, four years of medical
school, one year of internship, and three to six years of residency. The
curriculum includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, and
pharmacology - but excludes nutrition, hygiene, safety, and common sense.

Throughout medical school, internship, and residency, young doctors are
required to take night call, which means going without sleep. In addition to
sleep-deprivation, young doctors must cope with cafeteria food and frequent
tests. The net effect of this ordeal is that many young doctors are
malnourished, overworked, exhausted, and dazed. This is why most doctors
do not have fond memories of their medical education.

As an intern on morning rounds, I remember an attending physician saying
that if he woke up tomorrow and found that he was a second-year medical
student, he would hang himself. We all laughed in pained agreement,
because we understood the rigors of medical education. But young doctors
do not understand that medical education is a brainwashing process,
sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. It's ironic that young doctors
must sacrifice their health for the sake of an education that does not fully
prepare them to cure themselves or their patients.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 November 2007
Hugh Mann
Eagle Rock, MO 65641 USA