A common refrain heard in medicine is “I should have done ________” or “I should quit practicing medicine and do _________.” The sentiment is well taken. The hours are long, the years of training are substantial, and often the job description and responsibilities have grown while the benefits and perks have decreased or stayed the same. However in many ways this sentiment also rings hollow. There is always the opportunity to change jobs, to move to consulting, to work in research, or to just do something else altogether. If one truly believes that they should have done something else or truly wants to quit medicine to do something else, they can easily walk away and into a myriad of other opportunities, different fields where a 9-to-5 schedule and weekends off are standard and where one does not encounter people dying on a daily basis.
Yet overwhelmingly, physicians choose to stay. They choose to stay because it is a calling, not a career. They stay because there is a camaraderie among healthcare workers not found in the 9-to-5. They stay because medicine is unique amongst the other careers in the diversity of encounters, in the interesting problems, and the even more interesting individuals you meet along the way. The frustrations with the job and the healthcare system are because physicians care, because constantly correcting the imperfections in the system matters, because for all of the flaws, there is no better career or calling in the world.