Is Medicine A Calling, or a Job?


Which take on medicine is best for patients and provider mental health?

Dave and the gang–including M1s AJ Chowdhury and Alex Belzer; M4 Holly Conger; and MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk–take a look at the prevalent idea that medicine is a “calling,” somewhat like religion is for many. That’s an imperfect analogy, but there are parallels. People talk, for instance, about the sacrifices, the altruism, the service, and the requirement that doctors be at all times upstanding and display exceptional integrity. This view has some obvious benefits for the profession, including that its practitioners are laser focused on being the best physicians and people they can be.

But that view of physician-hood carries with it a lot of weight. When medicine is viewed as a calling, being a physician may become one’s primary identity. And when perfection remains frustratingly out of reach, the risk is that you’ll come to view yourself as a bad person and not as a doctor who is still learning. At least, that’s what Dave worries, but is it true?

Plus, Holly brings us up to date on life as an M4, especially her search for a residency position.

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