Why am I a Doctor?

I often wonder: Why am I a doctor?


Maybe I want to live in the real world, a world without pretense, a world where people can’t hide behind money or status. Illness exposes our authentici­ty. And doctoring satiates my need to be witnessed and to witness the raw, uncensored human experience­. I crave intensity. It’s an addiction.


Like an emotional bungee jumper, I live to inhale the last words of a dying man, the first cry of a newborn baby, to feel the slippery soft skin in my hands, to cut the cord and watch a drop of blood fall on my shoe. And to wipe a new mother’s tears, to introduce a father to his son, to hold a daughter’s hand as she kisses her father goodbye one last time.


I’m a doctor because I refuse to be numb. I want to live on the precipice of the underworld­, the afterworld­, to look into patients’ eyes, to free-fall into an abyss of love, despair, death … and then wake up and do it all again tomorrow.


Maybe doctoring fills a hole, a void. I doctor for connection­, to be needed ~ to be loved.


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8 comments on “Why am I a Doctor?
  1. Michael Garver MD FAAP says:

    Is this the “norm”, or a special human experience granted only few. It is a priveledge,
    given the drive and desire to create a unique life of giving and receiving. Usually finding oneself on the receiving end more often. Does every physician delve into medicine for this level of personal reward. Are we creating a “cookie cutter” assemly line of new graduates, and simply become extinct at the end of fulfilling career. There is an ongoing effort to make patient needs fit within a schedule of a providers lifestyle.
    Medicine once was a calling and not just a profession. I admire your passion.
    In the end all you have is your story.


    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I think most med students choose primary care for humanitarian reasons. Assembly-line medicine destroys these dreams, yet the greatest source of professional satisfaction for 61 % of docs is the patient relationship (Merritt-Hawkins 2007). When that relationship is lost, all else fails. In a time of universal despair, being a happy physician is a revolutionary act. By mentoring young docs we demonstrate an alternative to the life of a paper-shuffling, frustrated physician. I offer the story of my life to inspire others.

      Thanks for writing Michael.

      ~ Pamela

  2. aldebra schroll says:

    It is time for physicians to take back medicine, it is happening in small little pockets and hopefully will grow into a movement. Good luck with the blog, it is an inspiration.

  3. Martin Young says:

    How refreshing to find other doctors determined to offer a real prospect of change in healthcare!! Believe me, this is a global issue, and I face similar problems where I practice.

    What stuns me however is the resistance to change, even open hostility, from doctors who cannot face the fact that patients are now empowered, and the relationship cannot and should not be the onesided affair it used to be.

    Good luck – I’ll be watching with interest!

  4. Pamela Wible MD says:

    @Martin ~ Resistance and even hostility to change is normal. These are all stages along the way to acceptance according to Schopenhauer.

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

    Arthur Schopenhauer
    German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

    So we’re on our way!

  5. Adam K says:

    Dear Pamela,

    What you wrote on why you are a doctor, I thought, was so eloquent and beautiful. I relate on this level in the human experience through immersion into other cultures and traveling. Feeling truly alive through intensity is, perhaps, a common thread for many doctors, teachers, thrill-seekers, and others.

    Thank you for your relentless energy and pursuit to make a change for the better.

    When I travel to SE Asia, especially Thailand, I experience health-care differently. Attentive. Inexpensive. Simple. I struggle with “Western” medicine and its complexities, and fortunately, am in relative good health without the need for pharmaceuticals or ongoing care. Knock on something…and keep eating properly and exercising.

    Again, thank you for making a difference. And, yes, it’s time to step off the treadmill…

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks Adam ~ Yes, I’m emotional thrill seeker. I think many are. Thank you for sharing your words.

  6. acaeronet says:

    I’m a doctor because I refuse to be numb. I want to live on the precipice of the underworld­, the afterworld­, to look into patients’ eyes, to free-fall into an abyss of love, despair, death … and then wake up and do it all again tomorrow.


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