Doctors and Lawyers: Professions with Declining Appeal

<p>NY Times article by Alex Williams, The</a> Falling Down Professions, suggests that law and medicine are declining in popularity among professions targeted by ambitious undergrads.</p>

[Law firms] lose, on average, nearly a fifth of their associates in any given year, in an industry in which about 20 percent of lawyers over all will suffer depression at some point in their careers...</p>

<p>As of 2006, nearly 60 percent of doctors polled by the American College of Physician Executives said they had considered getting out of medicine because of low morale, and nearly 70 percent knew someone who already had.


<p>What's hot? Fields with even higher potential payoffs for stars, and those which don't require many years of persistent effort to achieve modest success, e.g., investment banking and entrepreneurship.</p>

<p>I would agree with those stats for physicians. In my household, it is 100%
of physicians ( 2 of 2). Doctors are often blamed by the uninformed for rising health care costs. Much of the cost increase is due to layers of administrative personnel now required because of ever-increasing government intrusion into medicine. Professional "quality assurance" personnel (Monday morning quarterbacks) also add to the cost. All of these people have to be paid. My advice for those wanting to study medicine because they want to help people (by the way, never say that in a med school interview) is to go to med school, train in a primary care specialty, and go practice in a third-world country. Your patients will appreciate your effort, you won't get sued, and you won't have to worry about being paid for your work.<br>
The preceding rant is just some food for thought. I am actually semi-satisfied with my current work. Just boring.
Interesting that entrepreneurship is "hot". A field with a great deal of autonomy and one in which very hard work can yield personal and monetary reward. That is what medicine used to be.</p>

<p>My hs senior is thinking of medicine. Would love to see more posts from current practicing physicians. Here's a particular question with us - can't one be entrepreneurial with a medical degree foundation? Can't you go to work for a start-up biotech, wall street health care fund, etc?</p>

<p>Dtex50, I think the "entrepreneurial" aspect of being a physician has been greatly reduced by the emergence of hospital-owned networks, large clinics, large practices, etc.</p>

<p>That may not be all bad - an individual skilled in medicine may not enjoy (or be good at) running an efficient accounting operation, marketing his/her services, etc. But, being employed by another entity definitely gives less control and less upside potential.</p>

<p>It's been long established that being in control of one's activities reduces stress, and today's legal and medical professions often put all but their senior members in situations with lots of demands but little control.</p>

<p>Absolutely, mammall. One fellow in my med school class didn't do a medical residency and instead went to film school. Another went to law school. Not sure if she is part of the 20% or 60% dissatisfied. The start-up biotech route may require some clinical or research training, unless the company just needs an M.D. on the board. As more and more physicians in America are employed by a health care company or hospital, as opposed to being self-employed, physician managers are in some demand. Lot's of opportunities. Just be sure the goal is learn what medical school has to offer. If the goal is to have an M.D. after your name, there are better ways to spend 4+ years and 200K.</p>

<p>If you don't say you want to help people, what do you say in a med school interview?</p>

<p>Isn't this what people were saying when Chelsea Clinton went to McKinsey instead of going to law school </p>

<p>In son's HS graduating class and closest circle of 8-10 boys, I would say that 6 of them are pre-med, with only 1 interested in engineering (son) and 1 other possibly interested in law. Of couse, of the six, 4 of them are children of doctors, while son and other possible law student are products of lawyers. Son is absolutely NOT interested in law after witnessing dad practice all of these years in a firm where billable hours are so important. Interestingly enough, dad represents a lot of doctors in practice. Son is also Not interested in pre-med--"too much blood to witness!"</p>

<p>My D, mom and pop both doctors, has decided only one thing for sure, and that's that she doesn't want to be one. But she's been "sure" of things before and changed her mind.I'm certainly somewhat disenchanted, but mostly because of the emphasis on drugs over lifestyle in our culture. I've though about it but there is still nothing I'd rather do...that will earn money at least.</p>

<p>that's weird that they are saying lawyers are declining considering i just read an article in the chicago tribune about how the supply of law school grads greatly over-exceeds demand for them, to the point where many of them are doing clerical work for $20 an hour</p>

<p>Good to hear that interest in law is declining. Not good to hear the same for medicine.</p>

<p>^ oh yay. Less justice and less hospitals. Reminds me of the Ottomans.</p>

<p>"If you don't say you want to help people, what do you say in a med school interview?"</p>

<p>Saying that you want to help people is really cliched and really irritates med school interview panels. My parents, (both doctors, and past members of admissions panels) warned me not to even suggest that "helping the suffering" was any part of my motivation for doing medicine.</p>

<p>Talking about the intellectual challenge of medicine is better. At least, it worked for me, and helped me get into the most selective med school in my country.</p>

<p>The irony is that a part ( a small part) of the reason I did medicine was because I wanted to help the suffering.</p>

<p>Agree with dtex about the layers and layers of insurance administration (remember that HMOs were going to save $. yes, for the CEO etc). Prospective med students need to realize that 1) they will not be able to practice what they want 2)where they want and 3) how they want.
That said, I'm in academic medicine, and overall still get some sense of gratification when I see my patients get on with their lives (blood/marrow transplant), and sadness when they don't. We form intense relationships with many families. I've been sued about 5 times, and each time have strongly considered going over to the "dark side" aka Big Pharma. Families expect a perfect outcome in this highly imperfect world.</p>

<p>my father is a doctor and has urged his children not to go to med school.</p>

<p>But I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks we would be worse off with fewer lawyers...especially since they are so often to blame for the woes of the medical profession...</p>

<p>Only lawyers and doctors can solve the problem for themselves. Lawyers need to stop filing lawsuits against doctors. Doctors need to stop working for health insurance companies. Doing this will make Americans healthier too.</p>

<p>I still wanna be a doctor...ummm...anyone else?</p>

<p>I think one of the biggest issues that has been hurting the medical profession is the fact that its really lost its status within society. Over the last few decades (with all the problems that have developed in the US healthcare system) the profession has gone from a (as viewed by the public) glamorous and highly respected profession to, what is now essentially, a service industry. People no longer view a physician as someone they look up to for advice and guidance in their life and with their health issues, but as a contractor that is providing a service. The profession has largely lost the trust and respect of its customers (patients). This isn't all the fault of physicians (as much of the fault lies with the HMOs and Insurance Companies they're chained to) but they don't get totally off the hook either.</p>

<p>As someone previously pointed out, one dosen't have to practice medcine after doing an MD but it would generally be a huge waste of money. Yes, those with advanced degrees often do things wholly unrealated to those advanced degrees although you generally see this happening with PhDs and not MDs so much. Remember that a PhD is very much an entrepreneurial degree (you get the degree on the basis of original ideas and research) whereas an MD is essentially a fancy trade school (you get the degree on the basis of learning a pre-determined set of skills). Also, many PhDs come with full funding whereas that rarely occurs with an MD program.</p>

<p>"Lawyers need to stop filing lawsuits against doctors."</p>

<p>I think this is probably a pretty popular view, but as someone who may need healthcare at some point, I really don't understand it.<br>
You realize that, when a doctor gets sued, it is because a patient they treated is going to suffer physically, financially, and emotionally for the rest of their lives? Those people sue because a mistake has severely damaged their way of life, and in many cases, their reward is merely a way for them to pay the additional medical bills they will face without filing bankruptcy? You also realize that the doctor isn't the one paying up right? That's why they have insurance.</p>

<p>Medicine is a very complicated field. Doctors make mistakes, and that's to be expected. I think most people who sue them understand the doctor was doing their best. They simply want to have compensation for the loss they have suffered due to a mistake. I think that's reasonable. It does not come out of the doctor's pocket. If I get in a car wreck and fracture my spine, and a doctor doesn't recognize it and order an operation, and I end up becoming paralyzed due to the lack of treatment, then I'd like to think there is a way for me to pay for the immense medical bills and lifestyle challenges I'm going to face. Do I want the doctor to lose her job? Not really, and in most cases she won't. </p>

<p>So frankly, I certainly hope that lawyers continue to sue doctors. And I hope doctors continue to provide an important service and continue to be insured so that, when costly mistakes happen, they don't have to suffer more than necessary for it.</p>

<p>Declining interest in law school may be a logical reaction to the challenges that face grads with less than top shelf credentials. Certainly, the top tier law schools will have a surplus of applicants indefinitely. But a law degree, in and of itself, is no longer a guarantee of lucrative employment or even financial security. An undistinguished grad of an unheralded law program may indeed have difficulty finding a reasonable position as an attorney.</p>

<p>Doctors have it better from a guaranteed income standpoint - just about every new doc coming out of a U.S. med school can find gainful employment. Docs, however, have a much more arduous and time consuming educational path and in many cases less financial upside potential than attorneys. Neither compare well with investment bankers.</p>

<p>Those comments don't include any of the rest of the issues - how appealing the work itself is, what kind of hours will be worked, etc.</p>

<p>The best and brightest students will often pursue those careers that society places the highest value on - generic legal and medical careers no longer fall into the most elite category. Society doesn't always make great choices - look at the teaching profession today, for example.</p>