Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Become a Doctor?

Talk about good timing.

This just-broadcast NPR Morning Edition segment spoke to the importance of "STEM" (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) high school education. When the network's framing began (Mr. Obama's "stargazing" vs. "hard-line" House Republicans), the otherwise agreeable Population Health Blog began to tune out.

Its attention snapped back when it heard this....

.... combination of budget cuts and policy decisions has left many local, state and federal bodies short on funds to robustly back science education. To help fill the gaps, a national patchwork of corporations, non-profits, foundations, and volunteers have stepped in to help. Volunteer and corporate-backed STEM networks "can help schools bridge those gaps and make those connections".....


The PHB spent the prior day - October 27 - participating in a Junior Achievement-sponsored "STEM Summit" at a local Harrisburg PA high school. Groups of 9th graders rotated through a number of stations (fun experiments in physics, food science, electrical engineering and math) and panels (presentations about careers in geology, food science, finance and health care). 

The loquacious PHB was naturally assigned to a panel, and its job was to prompt the rotating groups of participants to think about becoming doctors:

After you graduate from high school, go to college, and continue your studies in science. But remember the goal is a broad education that will help you become a better and informed global citizen. Then you go to medical school.  That involves four years of both lectures and exposure to real patients across a range of disciplines.  By the time that is over, you have a doctor degree, but you're not ready for independent medical practice. For that, you have to pick a specialty career path with an additional 3 to 5 years (or more) in an apprenticeship called a internship/residency.

Medical school can result in more than $100,000 in debt. That sounds like a lot, and it is. But during your residency, an income of more than $50,000 is likely. Once you are in independent practice, your income can exceed $200,0000 a year. 

Your debt will be serviceable.  Being a doctor is in your reach.

Remember that 1 out of very 5 dollars (the PHB held up a $5 bill) in the U.S. will be going to healthcare - 20% of your and everybody's income will be going to people like me.  This is a growth area in the U.S. economy.  As a doctor, you will always have a job and be able to put a roof over your head and put food on your table.

If you like science and people, medicine is a good place to be, and we need talented people like you in there.

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