Angry Doctor

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why am I still here?

A reader asks angry doc: if you were given a choice and in view of the current benefits and welfare received by the doctors here, will you still choose to become a doctor or at least practise in Singapore?

I think what he or she is asking is:

1. If you knew then what you know now, will you still choose to become a doctor?


2. If you decide not to practise in Singapore, will you practise in another country?

Short answers: 1. - Yes, 2. - Maybe.

But in themselves the answers don't really tell us anything about practising medicine in Singapore, so I thought I might just ramble on a little...

Working conditions for doctors vary quite a lot depending on your seniority, specialty, and place of practice. Certainly they vary enough for people to decide their choice of specialty and workplace based on 'lifestyle' considerations.

If you are an employee, you can negotiate contract terms. If you are your own boss, then you can make most of the rules yourself.

Bear in mind also that any choice a doctor makes does not have to be permanent: there are specialists who decided to become GPs, and there are GPs who have decided to become specialists; doctors move to the private sector all the time, and there are GPs and private specialists who return to the public sector. My guess is for most doctors, they will eventually find and settle for a spot they are comfortable with.

The details of the work vary, but fundamentally the job description is the same: a doctor identifies medical problems and finds solutions for them. Certainly some parts of the job are not covered by that statement (health promotion, solving social problems, signing certificates and examination forms), but primarily, a doctor is distinguished by his ability to make a diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan, and that's something that is intellectually challenging, and emotionally satisfying.

OK, it's good for the ego.

And why shouldn't it be? We are helping people. That's what I signed up for. I know I could do the same driving an ambulance or fighting fire, but I'm not a good driver and I look fat in yellow.

Despite my frequent rants about clueless patients and illogical policies, I know things will probably never be perfect. I don't expect a job to be all fun and happiness with no stress or aggravation; if it was like that they won't be paying me - I'll be paying them. Any other job will probably be the same, but at least in this one I get plenty of opportunity to help people, even if I don't always end up helping them.

So yes, if I knew then what I know now, I will still have become a doctor.

Will I practise somewhere else though?

Well, it's not perfect here in Singapore, but if you read the blogs of the other doctors I link to, you'll find it's not perfect in the US, the UK, and Australia either.

angry doc believes doctors everywhere face the same problems, plus problems unique to their place of practice. angry doc is not sure he wants to trade one set of problems for another set of problems right now.


  • continuing from our exchange on my blog's comments box: rest assured that your identity will be kept strictly confidential by myself and the editor ( as well as the rest of the editorial board if need be ). the hobbit's a good example of this discretion. :)

    you've got lots of good thoughts which should be shared with the rest of the medical community. hope you'll come aboard.

    By Blogger spacefan, At May 04, 2007 3:40 am  

  • Hi Angry Doc!

    Thank you for shedding light to me your source of motivation that keeps you going in this profession! It is indeed inspiring!

    By Blogger meow, At May 04, 2007 11:52 am  

  • wellll

    come to think of it, every job sucks

    law? nah, too much paperwork

    hawker? sweaty, sticky, oily

    IT? nah, i'd be out of a job in 10 years

    banking? i'd win big, but lose BIGGER

    celeb blogger? the wrinkles and botched nosejob will do me in one day

    village shaman? instead of malpractice suits, i'd be given summary judgements and burnt on the stake

    minister in the gahmen? well.... uh.... oh wait, i can't think of anything bad abt it!

    By Blogger KC, At May 05, 2007 10:11 am  

  • Hi Angry Doc, saw ur blog thro' a link in sma. glad you still think you want to be a doc, that you are still helping pple. it will always be felt by the patients whom u treat from the bottom of your heart. can appreciate your angst being in hosp.admin,but they are not there to create obstacles, there are sme who also work towards pt. care. -LH

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 04, 2007 5:46 pm  

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