by John Scanlon

As Chestnut Hill Hospital’s chief medical officer, I’m often asked to speak to students who are interested in – or on a path to – a career in medicine. With the celebration of National Doctor’s Day on March 30, I’m reminded how critical is this role of mentor, educator and cheerleader for the practitioners of tomorrow as we face an increasing physician shortage that is perhaps greater than any time in modern history. Recent estimates from the Association of American Medical Colleges indicate that the United States will see a shortage of between 60,000 and 95,000 primary care and specialty physicians by the year 2025.

Everyone knows the path to becoming a physician is a rigorous one: four years of medical school, another three in residency and 100+ hour work weeks during those years. And the pressures of medical practice have increased dramatically with technology and administrative requirements, reduced reimbursement and more. These are not exactly effective tools for recruiting new medical students! So, I’d like to share some of the great answers Physicians Practice gave to the question: “Why should I consider becoming a doctor?”

  1. You get to do cool things most people will never have the chance to do. No matter what your specialty, you are critical to furthering the life spans of your patients. A quote from a medical blog says, “I figure I save about one life a week, on average. And I’m just a psychiatrist.”
  2. Your medical training prepares you for a successful life. You’re likely to be a good decision maker, simply because you must do it constantly in situations where the stakes can be high.
  3. You relieve more than physical pain. You address your patients’ vulnerability to not just disease, but also to loneliness, fear and anxiety. There’s no doubt that many people will survive and thrive, simply because you listened.
  4. You have influence. Just by virtue of your profession, you earn respect in your community. You can use this power to effect real change in the world, and not just on healthcare issues.
  5. You have actual job security. Yes, healthcare has been hit hard economically, but there are always FAR more people who need doctors than there are doctors.
  6. You make a real difference. Despite the challenges, you have a job that provides a genuine service to the public, with tangible results and healthier patients. That’s quite a privilege.

Beyond all of these great reasons, the providers affiliated with Chestnut Hill Hospital are true inspirations for young people to pursue careers in medicine. The quality of our medical staff is revealed through the notes and calls of appreciation and praise we receive from patients and their families who are grateful that these individuals chose medicine as their path. From our dedicated primary care and ED physicians, to the hospitalists working around the clock in inpatient care, to the skilled surgeons and specialists, it is my privilege to work with them in caring for our community.

John Scanlon, D.P.M., is the chief medical officer of Chestnut Hill Hospital

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