Thursday, April 12, 2012

Medicine is depressing

I was talking to my father yesterday about all the young stroke patients on my service. He was like, "That's so depressing! I don't know how you could work in a depressing field like rehab!"

"I think your field is WAY more depressing than rehab," I said. (He's a psychiatrist.) "I remember I cried on the first day of my psych rotation because I felt so sorry for my patients. At least on rehab, I mostly get patients who are on the road to recovery. A lot of them do really well and it's very uplifting to see that."

Dad: "I guess that's true..."

Me: "I mean, isn't EVERY field in medicine inherently kind of depressing sometimes?"

Then we brainstormed to think of a field of medicine that was never depressing and we couldn't.

24 comments:

  1. My stepfather said that he went into reproductive medicine because nobody ever died from infertility.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dr. G: plastics is a lot of burn patients and soft tissue reconstruction. Bedsore coverage. Skin cancer excision. People who have horrible face-destroying injuries. Stuff like that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. REI - telling a 26 y/o without kids she premature ovarian failure. And she needs to fork over $50 K for a kid...

    Plus she had to go through OB for 4 years..

    ReplyDelete
  4. We all die. Unfortunately, medical folks get to see that a lot more than, say, kindergarten teachers. But we'll all get there eventually.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Allergists have a pretty sweet gig.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think being an OB would be (one average) pretty great - having a baby is one of life's greatest experiences.

    Of course, though things can turn bad quickly, stillbirths, crack babies etc...

    Still...I would guess the majority of births end happily? At least, in the Western world?

    ReplyDelete
  7. :-) My father's an orthopaedics surgeon (and my mother's a psychiatrist too) - and he always talks about how cheery the people in the Orthopaedics team are. My friends and I have worked out it's because 'orthopods' (as you Yanks call them. lol.) don't have to deal with that much death and disease. It's a case of 'it's broke so we'll fix it then off you go' LOL. I'm pretty sure that's not always the case but I have found orthopaedics surgeons to be among the most cheerful. Possibly rivalling them would be anaesthetics - in all measly 3.5 years of my healthcare observations, I have only come across ONE grumpy anaesthetist... the rest are all so cheerful, friendly and excellent teachers!

    So... yes, orthopaedics?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well you can see some pretty gruesome accidents in ortho. And you deal with some disfiguring stuff. But I agree that orthopods always seem so cheery.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, trauma can be pretty rough in ortho. I read a great private blog written by an ortho resident and it can sometimes be really sad.

      Delete
    3. Seems like orthos are like general surgeons but much cheerier. They seem pretty happy to me.

      I think a lot of it depends on your niche in your specialty. Almost any specialty can find a happy niche where you don't do the sad stuff. I bet PMR isn't bad, people get better. I think opthal has some happy moments, they take out cataracts and people can see.

      When I rotated on OB, they told me there's a new thing, "Laborists" - it's like their hospitalists. No onc or anything. That might be kinda happy (though I always found L&D disturbing - you see the couple at their worst and exactly how they will screw up the kid).

      Delete
  8. Sleep medicine?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sleep medicine: Just spend a while seeing mostly sleep-deprived patients. Don't forget to read the notes from their psych consults, marriage/partnership counselors, and so on.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ophtho.

    Sure there's blindness. But often you can fix that which makes people very happy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Perhaps radiology. Even if a scan is horrible the person is kind of hypothetical.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Least depressing I would guess to be.. podiatry?

    Most depressing I would guess to be pediatric oncology.

    ReplyDelete
  13. neurologist!

    look at dr. grumpy, his life IS a sitcom (he said so himself) :p

    ReplyDelete
  14. Pathology has both extremes ... you see almost every depressing case that comes through the hospital (awful metastatic cancers in young people, etc.), but on the other hand, you don't have to interact with the patient about it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My vote would be OB/L&D or mother/baby for least depressing. On the flip side, when it is depressing, it's really depressing, because you're looking at an injured or dead baby, but most of the time everything goes okay and, hey, babies! Also, most of your patients are generally healthy, will be with you for a short time, and are typically glad to be there -- even if they don't like being in labor, they probably like the result.

    I too would think pediatric hem/onc would be the most depressing field.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I did a peds heme/onc rotation in medical school back when I was thinking about going into peds, and yes, it was incredibly sad. To this day, I still remember some of my patients. When the docs started talking about attending their patients' funerals, I thought i'd lose it -- and quickly crossed peds heme/onc off my list of potential career pursuits.

    ReplyDelete
  17. For those of you opting for O&G/labour and delivery type stuff... one word: Africa. The horror stories I hear about the care and the lack of services and the multitude of other health problems the mothers have and the lack of neonatal support post-delivery for a baby... oh, the miserableness :( and not particularly related to O&G but women's issues will probably come a lot to light when you're an O&G specialist I guess... any abuse, money problems, post partum depression, issues with who's the father of the baby... the very fact that you get continuity of care (although as a doctor over here in the UK, you kinda don't, really. midwives take care of most straightforward deliveries - compared to what i saw in India where midwives were hardly ever used/heard of!) with Obstetrics means you have a real chance of seeing or being witness to all the ugly as well I guess.

    of course, i'm probably just pointing out a fairly small minority of patients that would be seen in such conditions in the western world, I guess. but yes, i think O & G is a wonderful oxymoron of a field - happiness and depression, life and death.. all in one space!

    ReplyDelete