Friday, February 25, 2005

My Friend

I spoke to my med school friend today. Great guy. We had great times in med school. He’s doing well as a hospitalist, he's making a lot of money, and not working hard. He hates his job of course, but has an interesting resigned attitude. He goes about his daily activities with no hope for any advancement in the world, with no hope to make his surroundings better. He finds the job not particularly challenging. He goes to work, spends the least amount of time he can there, and is out the door as fast as possible. He’s not out to change the world. He’s not out to make the world a more wonderful magical place. He’s out to go to work, put in some time, and suck as much happiness out of the rest of his life as he can. He's the happiest doctor I know, not counting the guys in their 60’s who still think they are gods for having gone to med school ages ago and still don’t seem quite used to the idea that they can prescribe an antibiotic or tie sutures.

He has no expectations. He gets no satisfaction from his job. He thinks of work as just work to be done, and being a doctor is easier than picking peaches all day. He's probably great as a doctor, because he's affable, I know patients do love him (they give him presents and keep track of his birthday and try to set him up with various relatives), he's good at what he does.

Is this what it's all about? At work he's sisyphus. He labors under no false pretenses that what he does makes the slightest difference. Patients come in, patients go out. Paperwork in, paperwork out. Sodiums up, blood pressures down, breathing eased. Fear of lawsuit - eternal.

He's single, he goes out constantly, he introduced me to the term 'hot hag,' and I'm pleased to say I'm married to someone who will probably become one. He orders drinks by brand names. He goes to: Miami, Chi, SFO, HI, NYC for weekends, and makes up the money with some more work.

What happened to me? Somewhere along the way I became this idiot academic guy toiling in the trenches, dealing with residents, grants, aggravation, and other doctor's who could only survive in academics - meaning they care deeply about what they do (even though that may include things that are so byzantine as to be as useless as studying astrology or the 4 humors). Meaning they hope to make advancements that will change the world, and are willing to devote thousands of their own working hours, years of their lives. And they come out with the fact estrogen worsens incontinence. Meaning that they can be slightly difficult. All so that someone else can win a Noble.

Perhaps I need a change. The problem in making decisions lies in the fact that there are no good options. Anyway you cut it, I'm just rolling the rock up the hill.


Blogger Sally said...

Keep at it, Doc NOS!

I think it's great that you care about what you do. It may be easy and simple not to care about anything, but caring is what makes us human after all... machines don't care, worms don't care, neither do jellyfish - they will never experience any pain, angst, frustration... but neither do they feel satisfaction, reward, joy. Feeling and caring may make us vulnerable when things go wrong, and even cynical, but hey, at least you know you're alive.

9:10 PM  

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