There are different challenges of becoming a doctor ranging from but not limited to structural, regional, personal, and political issues.
The world has changed. A century ago, most physicians faced challenges in their medical practice due to a lack of medical knowledge or innovation.
There is far too much new medical information available today. In fact, by 2020, the pool of medical knowledge is expected to double every 73 days. When compared to 1950, it took about 50 years for medical knowledge to double.
Many of the most significant challenges that physicians face today are related to technology, policy, and administration.
An Introduction to the Challenges of Becoming a Doctor
For centuries, doctors have been regarded as heroes who cure disease, relieve pain, and save lives, and they have traditionally been compensated handsomely for their efforts.
Even if the salary is not a motivating factor, it’s not surprising that so many idealistic young people want to contribute to humanity in such grand and noble ways.
However, many prospective physicians’ idealism wanes as they progress through the grind of medical school and the manic demands of residency. Those who overcome these obstacles face new challenges in the real world.
Challenges of Becoming a Doctor
Here you will learn about some of the most difficult challenges that physicians face on a daily basis.
Regarding the remainder, some solutions will be proposed that may make practicing medicine a little bit easier.
- Investing time in patients –
The likelihood is that you didn’t fantasize about not having enough time to see your patients when you wanted to be a doctor. Extra time with patients is a luxury when you have so many other responsibilities.
In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers concluded that “For every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours [are] spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day.”
Finally, patient wait times, which are exacerbated by the physician shortage, are a minor issue that can be particularly insidious.
A patient may become irritated with the wait and leave without receiving proper medical care. This exact scenario occurred 322,000 times in California emergency rooms in 2017.
Physicians who chose the profession of medicine knew it would be difficult, but perhaps not in the ways they expected.
- Health-care bureaucracies –
Although healthcare system frustrations probably plague most countries that have a system in place, the relatively new Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States is taking center stage right now.
As a result, there are numerous unavoidable issues as doctors and their staff struggle to adapt and sort out the uncertainties about how the new law will affect patient care quality.
Physicians are also understandably concerned about how the ACA will affect their practices, both financially and otherwise.
Although the primary goal of the ACA is to benefit patients, the reality is that dealing with new government mandates, navigating new payment mazes, and learning to navigate new payment mazes can all detract from this core mission.
Physicians’ frustrations with bureaucracies are not limited to the ACA. Other programs, such as pharmacy benefit plans, can also be aggravating, as one physician discovered in early 2014.
- Inadequate time for patients –
In many cases, this challenge is related to bureaucracies and other healthcare system challenges, but it is also part of a larger picture that includes regulatory issues, society’s expectations of medicine, and the frantic pace of modern life.
Government mandates, private-pay requirements, and the day-to-day rigors of running a business frequently force physicians to spend less time with patients. The stakes are so high, with their careers on the line, that today’s doctors can’t afford to fail.
- Political, social, or economic barriers to serving those most in need –
In the developing world, problems arise from factors beyond the control of doctors, such as geopolitical events, economic and social problems, and even natural disasters.
The issue is a complete lack of healthcare infrastructure. War, government corruption, and a high patient-to-physician ratio make the goal of “serving humanity” appear almost idealistic in some countries.
Doctors, nurses, and volunteers who want to make life easier for people in troubled areas of the world face numerous challenges and dangers.
- Incurable diseases, the re-emergence of previously lethal diseases, and the emergence of “superbugs” are among the phenomena for which medical science has little knowledge about or even a cure –
In the face of incurable diseases, doctors have probably always felt helpless and frustrated. Doctors and other healthcare workers must now deal with emerging superbug strains.
These include antibiotic-resistant bacteria (due in large part to antibiotic overuse and misuse throughout the food chain) and new virus strains that keep medical researchers and healthcare workers on their toes.
Many of these bugs can be found in hospitals. Despite their best efforts, doctors appear to be losing the war against these microscopic enemies who are claiming millions of lives around the world.
- Work-life balance, burnout, and stress –
These may appear to be personal issues at first glance, but they can have serious consequences.
Regardless of the benefits that come with any position of authority and respect, being a doctor has always been a stressful job.
After all, doctors are in charge of people’s lives. Today’s doctors, on the other hand, face a confluence of factors, including those mentioned above, that make their jobs extremely stressful.
The worst news in this regard is that physicians have a higher-than-average suicide rate, which is almost certainly due to untreated depression.
Female doctors commit suicide at 2.3 times the national average, while male doctors commit suicide at 1.4 times the national average.
Doctors have a higher than average rate of alcoholism and drug abuse for a variety of reasons.
Many doctors work 80 or more hours per week and only a small portion of that time is spent interacting with patients.
Doctors and their staff spend so much time complying with new regulations, adapting to new technology, and dealing with the economics of running a practice that burnout is a constant risk.
The authors of a December 2013 article published on the Medical Economics website wrote: “The unavoidable fact is that unhappy physicians contribute to a poorer healthcare system.”
- Dealing with mental illness –
- Improved communication with patients and other healthcare providers –
A lack of care coordination and communication can not only cause patients to be frustrated and confused, but it can also lead to readmissions.
And, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, hospital readmission rates will become more important for physicians in the future, as readmissions can result in financial penalties and gaps in care.
Using the teach-back technique with patients and being diligent about following up are two strategies for improving communication, which is also a good way to avoid malpractice lawsuits.
- Using technology to engage patients –
Doctors must understand how different patient populations and generations use technology, whether it’s wearables or online patient education, and they must also consider how to use technology effectively.
- Keep patients actively engaged with health-improving technology –
Other difficulties doctors report include getting paid what they’re worth as payment models shift from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance, dealing with the fallout from mergers of the nation’s largest health insurers, and weighing the risks and benefits of independence versus employment.
Conclusion on the Challenges of Becoming a Doctor
The preceding is not meant to discourage any enthusiastic, qualified candidate from pursuing a career as a doctor.
On the contrary, the world will continue to require competent physicians. Doctors make valuable contributions, so the desire to serve humanity is both admirable and rational.
These difficulties may appear daunting, but they also provide opportunities for doctors to improve patient care by better understanding and targeting the patients they assist.
Improving communication and education, as well as utilizing technology to achieve their objectives.
The key for a prospective doctor is to manage his or her expectations by being aware of the challenges of the profession. Faced with these realities, doctors can better live up to the ideals that drew them to medicine in the first place.