Cutter’s excellent post and the comments to follow really got me thinking. What factors go into our thoughts about whether we would do it again (become a doctor)? Can this change?
This is just my way of thinking about the question (one way of potentially many), but I think the simplified, general equation may look like this:
Outcome - Sacrifice = DiA
If DiA = positive, you would do it again. If negative, you would not.
And where Sacrifice = time, money, family relationships, moves, etc , thus far
Outcome = present level of satisfaction with career, may include work-life balance (or work*life product), income, career-related meaning, work-related aggravation
And time, because I do think time is a factor because time attenuates sacrifice/hardship. For instance, if you asked me whether I wanted to have another child while I was sleep-deprived and breastfeeding my newborn Q2 hours during those awesome early weeks of being a new mother, occasionally crying in the shower if I was fortunate to have a shower, my answer may not have been a resounding Absolutely! Not that I didn’t think my child was a magical gift, but wow. My pregnancy/labor/post-partum period were not easy. Fast forward a couple of years and that hardship didn’t seem quite as insurmountable relative to the outcome. That was kind of a terrible analogy (along with math, not my forte), but I think in general, distance makes the heart grow fonder and the memories fuzzier. Alternatively, maybe the Sacrifice was way too much and no time in the world would make that value small enough.
For me, my Sacrifice to become a doctor was relatively small and feels smaller with time. I met my husband during medical school. I was really fortunate to finish training with minimal debt, and besides being very tired and on-call during multiple holidays (Thanksgiving dinner with my co-residents in the physicians’ dining room; watching fireworks on July 4 through the 8th floor hospital windows), it wasn’t so bad. My Outcome, on the other hand, has increased over time. I now have more control over my schedule (compared to being junior staff right out of residency), higher income, more clinical knowledge, have engaged in new areas that keep me excited (teaching, research, mentorship, leadership) and after working with all different members of the healthcare team, value the role of physician as leader more than ever. Don't get me wrong- there are parts of my job that are the mental equivalents of how I imagine a root-canal would feel, but on the whole, my career is rewarding beyond what I could have imagined right after my pre-duty hours residency. My DiA started out positive from the start and only has grown more positive with time.
It goes without saying that this equation and its variables are individual, and there could be a fatal flaw that I have not considered in forming this equation. But, it’s not an easy path to take, no matter how you compute it.