Some of my: Inventions | Magazine interviews | Sheds | Favorite ER memories

Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD

“The tragedy is that everyone thinks they already have goals. But what they really have are hopes and wishes.”
— Brian Tracy in The Power of Discipline. This dovetails with an article (Children overcoming adversity) that said, “… contrary to prior belief, children in difficult situations need to do more than dream of a happier and successful future self: They need a strategy for becoming that person.”

You want to become a doctor. I want to help you achieve your goal.

I don't think that you will find anyone more qualified than I am to help you become a doctor, because I did it, against all odds. In sixth grade, my teacher said that I was "slow," and I struggled my first two years of high school. I felt lucky to receive Ds in some classes that I should have flunked.

Then everything changed. I earned virtually all As my last two years of high school and throughout college. My college GPA and MCAT scores were so high that I was the one person my medical school accepted per year with only three years of college. I did so well in medical school that I was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha (the med school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa) after my second year, and graduated in the top 1% of my class.

Studying to become an ER doctor?
Future ER doctor?

I was such a shoo-in for an ER residency position (the most coveted residency at that time) that I was offered an under-the-table deal because they wanted to ensure that no other hospital lured me away. The director of my residency program once commented that I was the smartest resident they ever had, and one of my former bosses told me that I was the smartest doctor he ever met. Aren't these implausible accolades for someone who once was a class dunce?

I was not born with that aptitude. I learned how to expand every facet of brainpower from intelligence to creativity, and I can show you how to do the same thing. You will learn more from me than you could from people who were born on third base, yet act as if they just hit a triple. Being dealt four aces doesn't necessarily make one a great poker player.

I achieved this intellectual metamorphosis from dunce to doctor without any tutors, prep courses, or much help from my family. If I can do it, you can, too, because you're probably brighter than I was. The problem is that 99.99% of teachers succeed only in making their students more knowledgeable, not more intelligent or creative. "Slow" kids like me usually fumble through the system and emerge from it without anyone doing anything to materially augment their brainpower. Hidebound by centuries of antiquated teaching methods, today's teachers cannot transform "slow" kids into ones who ace medical school, like I did. Hence, it frustrates me when I hear politicians and teachers' unions suggesting that the primary way to improve education is to increase funding for it. Hogwash.

Although I was trained as an emergency room doctor, most of my advice is applicable to other medical and surgical specialties as well as other careers requiring superb intelligence or creativity.

In addition to presenting tips to enhance your academic success, I will give you an insider's view of what it is like to be an ER doctor. You will learn the pros and cons of a career in emergency medicine while you are being educated, entertained, and often surprised by a very candid doctor who never pulls a punch.

I spent years developing a similar site,, which also focuses on emergency rooms and ER as a career. That site needs an aesthetic makeover, but its extensive question and answer pages provide information that you won't find elsewhere. I will post all new topics on this site in its question and answer section. I am willing to answer questions that I have not previously addressed, but please first check both sites to see if I already discussed that matter.

I firmly believe that since I overcame many obstacles yet succeeded, you can do it, too. If you read some of the difficulties I faced (here and here), it will erase any doubts you may have about whether you can become a doctor or other professional in a challenging career. You can, and with my help, you will.

I helped many people succeed, such as a struggling student depressed about his abysmal grades that seemed to shatter his dreams of becoming a doctor. He is now a brilliant medical student. Another person was trapped in a dead-end job, convinced she didn't have The Right Stuff to become a doctor. With my help, she did; she is now a professor at the medical school I attended (Wayne State), and she is chair of her department at a hospital in the Detroit Medical Center. I gave yet another person the boost she needed. She is now a neuroradiologist, medical school professor, and president of a prestigious medical organization. Note the pattern: not only did I help them, but I helped them become outstanding.

If you want to wear a white coat and earn the right to be called a doctor, the time to start is now. Ready? Let's go.

“Who are we to worry about, or compare ourselves to, others’ dreams when we can't even execute on our own?”
Michael Lazerow

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”
Les Brown

“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
Farrah Gray

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Chinese Proverb

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States 1923 – 1929

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
Bill Gates

Notes/Thinking of becoming a doctor? Get a second opinion.

  1. This is the personality trait that most often predicts success: conscientiousness. If you don't have it, you won't be a good doctor, no matter how smart you are or how much you know. Here's a true story that illustrates conscientiousness.
  2. Personality outsmarts intelligence at school: Conscientiousness and openness key to learning
  3. Grit better than GRE for predicting grad student success
  4. If you want to become a doctor, what I'm holding should scare the living daylights out of you: an amazingly thick brochure of the 11th annual Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians conference. Now ask yourself: if being a doctor is such a desirable profession, why on Earth is there a demand for an expensive course that teaches ways to escape clinical medicine?
  5. How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession: Nine of 10 doctors discourage others from joining the profession, and 300 physicians commit suicide every year. When did it get this bad?
    Comment: In 1980, my older brother presciently realized that medicine was bound to become a very noxious profession, so he warned me to not go into it. I didn't listen, making the single greatest mistake of my life. Unfortunately, medical school admissions committees are just as foolish as many applicants in assuming they should become doctors if they like science, excel in it, aren't allergic to hard work, and can't think of anything better to do. Wrong! Medicine can be a fabulous profession for some people, but when you're young, it isn't easy to predict what you'll be like when you mature.

    Secondly, the optimism of youth blinds medical students and wannabes into thinking they will magically escape the myriad drawbacks of medicine, such as ones presented in that brilliant article and ones I presented in the past few decades, but figuratively closing your eyes and hoping for the best won't deliver it. To dodge problems, you must focus on them and intelligently plan ways to circumvent them.
  6. Physicians Experience Highest Suicide Rate of Any Profession
    Excerpt: “… 50% of 2106 female physicians who completed a Facebook questionnaire reported meeting criteria for a mental disorder but were reluctant to seek professional help because of the fear of stigma.”
    Comment: I've spent many more years learning health than I did learning medicine that ignores or gives scant attention to key aspects of health. Consequently, doctors of medicine often cannot help themselves get and stay healthy, just as they are (obviously) failing to optimize the health and happiness of patients.
  7. Taking education too far: An episode of Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson (Cram Culture) discussed South Korean after-school academies called hagwons extend education so “many kids study 9-15 hours a day, seven days a week.” Not surprisingly, “in 2014, South Korean children were found to be the least happy in a study among developed countries” and in 2013, “suicide overtook transportation accidents as the leading cause of death for young Koreans.”

    Life is best when it is balanced, with plenty of time for friends, family, and fun. Despite my education, this basic lesson did not sink in until too late. As a result, I was an academic star but a personal failure—frankly, a self-centered asshole in some ways. This happens to many doctors. We enter medicine with the best of intentions, get beat up and burned out by the system, and gauge our happiness by the size of our paychecks. Of course, money cannot buy happiness, as evidenced by those South Korean suicides of children who could have had bright futures in a prosperous and burgeoning nation.

    People need time to stop and smell the roses, put their feet up, enjoy life and all that it has to offer.
  8. More Than Half of General Surgery Residents Think About Quitting
    Comment: Mentioning the drawbacks of medical careers and how most doctors eventually regret choosing them is essential so students make the best possible career choices for themselves and society. While being a doctor is often very stressful (except for the cushy specialties), the rewards can be priceless.

    I saved many lives as an ER doc. I vividly recall one “save” because I went out of my way and risked my future to save the life of a young black man I knew I couldn't bill. I left the ER (and my malpractice coverage) to run upstairs for his code, which was being botched by the residents responsible for his care. At that facility, a teaching hospital, ER doctors covered the ER only and were supposed to stay there, which I typically did because it was usually so busy I had no other choice.

    But one uncharacteristically slow night I heard a code called overhead and decided to go even though I realized I could have been sued for everything I had and would ever earn had the patient not lived, and I knew the dismal odds: 85% of patients who code in hospitals die. Knowing this, American doctors don't step outside the scope of their practice and malpractice coverage to save lives they have no responsibility for.

    On the street, Good Samaritan laws give some protection to doctors who go out of their way to help, but that'd be a tough sell in a hospital in which I took over a code the residents were running. The second I entered the room, both residents said “Dr. Pezzi!,” clearly surprised and happy to see me. A somewhat officious (but just doing her job) nurse asked me to spell my name during the code, which she wrote in the medical record detailing the code—thus I knew I'd be named in the lawsuit if the patient died. Families often understand the death of elderly folks but are hopping mad when young people die, so I was treading on very risky waters.

    I've never heard of another doc exposing himself to so much potential liability with nothing to gain, but I put that patient's welfare ahead of my own—and I feel very good about that, and also about turning that into a teachable moment because the residents were making a mistake they didn't realize, so if the patient died (which he would have, had I not arrived), they would have learned nothing and chalked up the death to being just another one in that miserable 85% statistic.

    With odds like that against me, and with leaving the ER being so medicolegally risky, the “save” was all the more gratifying. Other occupations don't give people equal chances to save lives, so before you reject medicine, consider what you're giving up. Not only did I save his life, but also the lives of the children he likely had afterward, and the lives of their children, and on and on. Ten thousand years from now, many people will likely have lived but wouldn't have had I not saved the life of their predecessor.

    In medical school I was taught to treat every patient like a sibling. I didn't always do that, but I did in this case, and I'm darn proud of it. You'd be, too.

    “To do more for the world than the world does for you — that is success.”
    Henry Ford

    I relish the “saves” but rue the ones I couldn't, such as my Dad who was murdered and dumped in a swamp, or a classmate executed by her husband, who reportedly spaced shots to her head by 20 to 30 seconds so the relatively wimpy .22 bullets gave her enough time to suffer horribly—and she did indeed, as she stumbled out of her home to drop dead in her snowy front yard less than a year after marrying him.
  9. 11 stupid ways smart people sabotage their success
  10. Why Physicians Won't Unite to 'Rescue' Medicine
  11. Sell Yourself, No one Else Will
    Comment: This commendable LinkedIn article is applicable to life in general, not just business careers. One quibble: the author, Bryan Lovgren, seems not to appreciate the benefits of what he terms “a self-deprecating mentality.” There's real-world and scientific evidence that the optimal catalyst for success is appearing to the world as if you have a big head but secretly doubting your ability so you wake up every day with a fire in your belly compelling you to do something great to prove your worth. You can go a step further and utilize social rejection, which is incomparably effective.

    Had I not possessed a self-deprecating mentality, I likely wouldn't have become a doctor and surely would not have graduated in the top 1% of my class, nor would I have subsequently accomplished goals that make medical school seem like a walk in the park. Once I can reveal the inventions I have up my sleeve, their benefits to billions of people now and forever will underscore the upside to thinking so little of yourself it fuels a perpetual quest to improve.

    The complacency of narcissists stems from inflated self-assessments that undermines the incentive to prove themselves because in their minds, they have nothing to prove: they think they're great, so there's no need to do anything more to justify it. Parenthetically, that is one reason why narcissists often excel only in careers in which appearance (not just physical appearance) is key, such as politics or the myriad silver-tongued talking heads on television who often have high IQs but achieve almost nothing tangible.

    Henry Ford said, “Don't find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.” It is so easy for TV's talking heads, and other functional idiots in general, to complain about others, but inherent in their criticisms is tacit boasting they have better ideas and solutions. If so, where are they? None of the narcissists on TV have a plan better than mine: a way to give more to those who receive benefits from government while draining less from taxpayers, simultaneously strengthening the social glue that binds us together: rich, poor, and in-between. I was tired of the malignant divisiveness that increasingly fractures America, so I did something about it.
  12. Babies can learn that hard work pays off: Infants try harder after seeing adults struggle to achieve a goal
    Comment: Worth pondering.
  13. What triggers a high-school student to suddenly drop out?
    Comment: My urge to drop out of high school was motivated by a fondness for easy. I wanted the easy way through life, and my freshman/sophomore courses—although standard—were too hard for me to mentally digest. Our affinity for something often reflects our aptitude for it and whether it's easy or hard. At that time, I excelled in eating cookies, popping pimples, mowing lawns, and lifting weights, not thinking, studying, or taking tests. So my bright idea was to drop out, work on an auto assembly line, and keep pumping iron. Then everything changed after I stumbled upon ways to boost brainpower.
  14. Majority of US physicians say they're burned out or depressed
    Comment: Nearly two-thirds! Now think: how can docs unable to help themselves with something so basic help patients with such common problems? They usually cannot, except with drugs that are often expensive and frequently loaded with noxious or risky side effects. Let's face it: the you-have-a-problem, you-need-a-pill approach to “healthcare” (ahem!) is misguided.
  15. Why Do Female Physicians Keep Dying By Suicide At Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital? In the span of two years, three women — two physicians and one medical student — died by suicide while at Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital.
  16. Medical student's death highlights high rates of physician suicides
    Comment: After Kathryn Stascavage jumped to her death, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai responded in part by putting “a moratorium on inducting medical students into Alpha Omega Alpha, a prominent national honor society.” This is like canceling the Olympics because most people aren't world-class athletes. In other words, it is ridiculous, bound to be ineffectual, and evidence that medical education leaders don't understand roots of burnout. Being inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha did nothing to shield me from burnout.
  17. Let’s talk about female physician suicide
  18. Enough Talk: Preventing Burnout During Medical Training
  19. Three factors could explain physician burnout
    Excerpt: [quoting Dr. Andrew G. Alexander] “Doctors now spend more time with electronic health records than they do with patients. Electronic health records were pushed by the government at great expense and without regard to the effects upon patient or physician health. Go into any hospital and look for the nurses and the doctors. You will find them sitting in front of computers. They are not happy, and their patients are not healthier.”

    Comment #1: But in the land of the once-free, American politicians don't care. There is nothing inherently bad about electronic health records (EHRs); I programmed my own in the 1980s and loved using that system. EHRs can do more than document what was done; properly conceived and implemented, they can turn average practitioners into superior ones routinely delivering topnotch care while saving money and time. But EHRs are often developed by people who need more training, intelligence, and creativity. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Comment #2: Another factor responsible for burnout is doctors feeling trapped: after investing the best years of their lives and a small fortune into becoming licensed doctors, human susceptibility to the sunk-cost fallacy leads to them escalating and perpetuating their commitment. I decided that I did not want to become a doctor after my first year of college, but not wanting to waste that year, I continued on, applied to medical school, graduated, and worked for years in a job I generally hated. In retrospect, it shouldn't have taken a year to realize that college and I were not a great fit because while I love learning, I HATE sitting in lectures, studying, and taking exams even though I excelled in them; with my five-minute max attention span, trying to pay attention longer than that was sheer torture.

    This is one reason why I envy people with circa-$12/hour jobs in retail, light manufacturing, or whatever: if they don't like their job, boss, or co-workers, they can easily find another that also requires little or no training or investment. They're free, which is priceless.
  20. Stress from using electronic health records is linked to physician burnout
    Comment: I developed a way to make electronic health records fun yet much better at delivering superior healthcare at affordable prices.
  21. Isolation and Burnout in Physician Culture: Innovative Solutions
    Excerpt: “Burnout is reaching epidemic proportions across medicine.”
    Comment: Yes, and I predicted it decades ago—plenty of time to do something about it—and proposed solutions, but the medical profession is better at whining about problems than solving them. The central defect isn't a lack of brains but lack of a spine: the very nature of medical training inculcates reverence to authority, even when that is based more on being pusillanimous than being correct. Having raised chickens, I see behavioral parallels between doctors and chickens, who are often needlessly fearful, find comfort in flocks, but reflexively cower in the face of danger. Most chickens.
  22. Medical students, burnout and alcohol
  23. Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students
    Comment: I somehow escaped that, but I witnessed other classmates being humiliated, such as when a professor of surgery would routinely take us—third-year medical students at the time—into a hospital meeting room, close the door, and grill us with one question after another. If anyone paused before responding, didn't know their stuff, or couldn't express it in grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs without saying “um ”or “uh,” they'd be sharply criticized and sometimes subjected to The Mother of All Humiliations: when the surgery prof would SLAM his fist on the table so hard it shook, and with his neck veins popping out further than I'd ever seen, he'd SCREAM in their faces, “You're too dumb to be a doctor!”

    And you know what? He was correct; some med students are indeed too dumb or too lazy to be doctors. He was also wise enough to realize that public humiliation is the best motivator, with research now substantiating its efficacy. Painful? Yes, but not nearly as painful as when those students become doctors who know too little and put too many people into the grave too soon.

    As a medical student, I worked 7 days per week, every day of the year, from early morning until late night, studying, studying, and more studying. I didn't waste half the day, as students reportedly do now, frittering away time on social media; I put my nose to the grindstone and worked hard because I knew patients would one day count on me to keep them alive. The surgery professor knew that, too. People who want to slough off should go into something like politics, where they can bamboozle voters into thinking they have bright ideas when all they have is charm and Hollywood looks. And ego.

    The docs with marginal mental qualifications—say, the ones who graduated in the bottom half of their class—should be turned into nurses or PAs.
  24. Starla Fitch MD: Don’t let your babies grow up to be doctors
    Comment: Don't judge a book by its cover, nor an article by its title.
  25. The ugly side of becoming a surgeon by Miko
    Comment: This very poignant, heartbreaking story is one of the ultimate stories of medical burnout.
    (a) Exhausted surgeon dismissed as an 'emotional female'
    (b) Stress-free training may enhance surgical skill
    Comment: Researchers found that “the best way to train surgeons is to remove the stress of residency programs and make surgery a hobby.” I agree. I enjoy performing surgery and various procedures such as spinal taps and inserting central IVs, but I and other medical students frequently loathed training under surgeons who seemed less concerned with teaching than acting like egomaniacs who think the world is a better place the more they abuse people. I don't recall any abuse directed at me, but surgeons threw so many temper tantrums I was constantly on edge, worrying I would be their next target.
    Other research has shown that a bit of stress is conducive to learning, but the ambient stress in medical school is way above that as a baseline, so amplifying stress can be very counterproductive.
  26. More than 70% of young oncologists in Europe suffer symptoms of burnout
  27. Physician Burnout Climbs 10% in 3 Years, Hits 55%
  28. Mayo Clinic: Physicians and burnout: It's getting worse
  29. Burnout and scope of practice in new family physicians
  30. Physician burnout: Resilience training is only part of the solution
    Comment: Resilience training? Why not fix the problems?
  31. Medscape Lifestyle Report 2016: Bias and Burnout
    Excerpt: “This year's Medscape survey, echoing other recent national surveys, … strongly suggests that burnout among US physicians has reached a critical level. … the highest percentages of burnout occurred in critical care, urology, and emergency medicine, all at 55%. … In this year's Medscape lifestyle survey, as in previous years, more female physicians … expressed burnout than their male peers …”
    Comment: Decades ago, I began writing about problems affecting doctors I knew would catalyze burnout and hence harm them and patients.
  32. Combating Physician Burnout: Tactics and Strategies for Easing Burnout
    Comment: With physician burnout being so prevalent, the problem obviously isn't the doctors but the profession and how it is caught between a rock and a hard place.
  33. Chance of depression in new doctors depends on where they train: Survey of first-year internal medicine residents shows those in programs with longer hours, less faculty mentoring & more research focus had higher depression scores
  34. British pilots score high on burnout scale -- but still perform well
  35. One in four new doctors may be depressed, and their patients may suffer because of it
  36. “… Dr Pam Wible reports that 75% of American medical students and residents are taking stimulants, antidepressants, or other psychiatric medications.” (source)
    Comment: Nothing says SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH THE MEDICAL PROFESSION more strongly than that. Ironic that people purportedly so adept at healing cannot heal themselves; the fact they take such crap highlights their ignorance of better alternatives. I got sick of that nuttiness many years ago and left medicine, likely for good. One root of the problem is that doctors are poor at solving problems. The medical profession was besieged by a perfect storm of government meddling, insurance companies and hospital administrators usurping ultimate decision-making, and attorneys blind to most cases of malpractice who see it in Technicolor when it simply doesn't exist. Today's practitioners pay for the spinelessness of past generations of doctors.
  37. Days after I posted the above:
    NYU Resident, Medical Student Die by Suicide 5 Days Apart
    Comment: A psychiatry resident!
  38. Physicians Experience Highest Suicide Rate of Any Profession
  39. Female Docs Afraid to Admit Seeking Mental Health Care
  40. Hire a 'Burnout' Officer to Help Physicians: Report
    Excerpt: “To combat the crisis of physician burnout, every major healthcare organization in the United States should appoint an executive-level wellness officer …”
  41. Burnout Rises Above 50% in Some Specialties, New Survey Shows
  42. Burnout Starts Early, Especially in Some Specialties
  43. Facing Burnout the First Year of Residency
    Comment: Most people who aspire to become physicians excel in answering questions. Here's one for ya: why, really, do you want to become a doctor? And another: do you really know what you're getting yourself into?

    Medicine is a great career for robots, not for people who wish to fully maintain their humanity. It took many years after leaving clinical medicine to undo some of its effects, some of which I fear are indelible. Abuse a dog, and it may never be the same again; abuse a person, ditto.

    A key to constantly evolving into a better person is to be kind to yourself and live a balanced life, which is virtually impossible if you put patients first and keep your nose to the grindstone constantly learning.

    By the way, doctors are kidding themselves—and essentially defrauding their patients—if they think the spectrum of learning during medical school and residency are sufficient fundamentals upon which to optimally augment patient health. I've spent more time before and after medical school learning crucial facets of health ignored by healthcare practitioners, and the deeper I dig, the more I realize I am nowhere near close to identifying all of the myriad factors that unquestionably impact health. Within the past year, for example, I added more to one of my health books, expanding it from 550 pages to now over 1400 and constantly growing, with it densely packed with information I would have figuratively given my right arm to know decades ago.
  44. Association of Clinical Specialty With Symptoms of Burnout and Career Choice Regret Among US Resident Physicians
    Comment: 45.2% of second-year resident physicians reported symptoms of burnout; career choice regret occurred in 14.1%. In my experience working with more experienced ER doctors, virtually all regretted choosing a medical career.
  45. This surgeon loves her job. But it's killing her. She quit. She didn't love her job; she hated it.
  46. Burnout, depression can affect ophthalmology residents, study finds
    Comment: Interesting because ophthalmology is considered one of the cushier specialties.
  47. Professional Loneliness and the Loss of the Doctors’ Dining Room
  48. Sam Sinai, PhD student at Harvard University: Why I became a computer scientist instead of a doctor
  49. Med Student Suicide, Depression: National Response Needed
  50. Depression, anxiety high in graduate students, survey shows
    Comment: Gee whiz, I wonder why? Might a balanced life be important to physical and mental health?
  51. New doctors' intense and changing schedules take a toll on sleep, activity and mood
  52. Workplace stress can take a toll on your brain surgeon, too: A new study by the Keck School of Medicine of USC finds that two-thirds of neurosurgeons experience burnout during training
  53. Ending Resident Suicides Starts With More Humane Training
  54. UA study reveals Arizona EMTs face 39-percent greater risk of suicide
  55. Do doctors have the worst job in America?
  56. Physician burnout in small practices is dramatically lower than national average
  57. Medical errors may stem more from physician burnout than unsafe health care settings
  58. Changing diagnosis codes will challenge emergency medicine
    Comment: American doctors are besieged with challenges faster than they can adapt to them; this is just one of the many problems they face. If you read between the lines, a clear message is evident: if you want a reasonably stress-free life, medicine isn't the career for you.

    better than being a doctor
    Surmounting the inherent challenges of medicine should be enough, but for American docs, the nightmare is just beginning. My advice? Read my LinkedIn article $70,000 per year, start now (its title was intentionally understated; you could earn more than most physicians and surgeons). Then put your feet up and really think about what I said and whether you want to beat yourself up to get “MD” after your name, or whether you want comparable income much sooner with markedly fewer hassles.

    The alternative career options I suggested are less prestigious, adding yet another benefit—that will seem like a non sequitur unless you've read my article on how social rejection boosts motivation to excel in extraordinary ways. If you are truly smart enough to be a good doctor, you can do much more to help folks by inventing solutions to problems. People could be considerably happier and live more enjoyable lives but the joy they could have is robbed by problems that just pile up: the bane of the modern world that's bubbling with apps but not good ideas.

    Good ideas solve problems in novel ways. For example, I wanted something better than antibiotics (I mentioned their numerous drawbacks in Best Shark Tank Product Ever?), so I created devices that cure certain infections much faster and more reliably than antibiotics and sold that technology to a friend of Bill Gates who owns a company that also invested in some of my other ideas.

    I've used my germ-killing devices for years to knock out infections that antibiotics do little or nothing for. It's never failed, and along the way I found that it works better than anything else to control a very common problem and seems to rapidly accelerate healing of chronic wounds. While that device is good, it doesn't begin to get my pulse racing; what I'm working on now will make your eyes pop out, solving what is unquestionably one of the biggest problems in the world in very surprising ways.

    Thus more people should be doing what I'm doing. If they did, we'd need markedly fewer doctors, and people would be healthier, happier, smarter, and more attractive with more free time and more money to spend on fun instead of healthcare that's bankrupting us but not making us very healthy.
  59. How to be a Real Emergency Physician: An Open Letter to the Recently Graduated and the Seasoned Veteran
  60. 6 MDs Who Quit Clinical Practice and Never Looked Back
  61. When a Physician Leaves, We All Lose
  62. The Loneliness of Being a Physician
  63. Employees of medical centers report high stress, negative health behaviors
  64. Doctor Achieves Lifelong Dream of Quitting Medicine Forever
    Comment: Satire, but if most doctors could feasibly leave medicine, most would in a heartbeat. Being a doctor is one of the best jobs in the world, with priceless rewards (not money, BTW) but more pain and stress than anyone should have to endure. If someone inflicted comparable misery on you, it would be a felony.
  65. Over 40 percent of GPs intend to quit within five years: New survey
  66. Should Physicians Educate Patients via Social Media?
    Comment: Medical ethicist Art Caplan, Ph.D. says yes. I said yes decades ago.
  67. 'I've Had It With Medicine!' 16 Options for Second Careers
    Comment: Make that 17: inventing. :-) I can't prematurely disclose what game-changing ideas I have up my sleeve just to appease skeptics and small-minded folks imbued with a crab mentality who don't think there will ever be another Steve Jobs, but when my prototyped and proven inventions are marketed, I will succeed in helping billions of people now and in the future in addition to making my investors fabulously wealthy.

    My LinkedIn tagline has the seemingly audacious claim that my big ideas “could make my investors richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined.” That seems like a pipe dream, and had someone told me five years ago that I'd soon have ideas that valuable, I would have laughed. But after decades of trying to come up with even a single big idea, I quickly had a small flood of them, some of which do things that seem utterly impossible, yet I know how to make them practical and easy to produce and use.

    I will enrich my investors while saving consumers a boatload of money. To understand how that's possible, history gives other precedents for how significant innovations can create vast fortunes while benefiting consumers. My inventions will make people happier, healthier, and more attractive; they'll save time and energy, and give more pleasure than you ever thought possible.

    I never intended to address drug addiction, but as a fortuitous side effect of one of my inventions (not its primary application), some people addicted to drugs or at risk for that will instead use my product so they could, if they wished, experience rapturous pleasure every waking minute of their lives, without harming their health or society, as the repercussions of drug abuse do. Yup, I turned even a frigging side effect into a miracle!
    The moral of the story is that if you truly want to help people, as most people say when they want to become doctors, you might do enormously more by not practicing clinical medicine. The catch is that there's a well-worn path to becoming a doc. It's arduous, but the road map is clear: just follow the directions and — presto! — you'll arrive at your destination if you have The Right Stuff: enough mental horsepower and figurative gas in your tank.

    Unfortunately, the path is much less clear on how to become an inventor with moonshot ideas that pan out. Going from dunce to doctor, as I once did (see above) was a breeze compared with the difficulty of morphing from a doctor to an inventor with ideas that solve some of mankind's most pressing problems and help companies leapfrog ahead of their competition.

    In this and my other ER site, I gave various tips for augmenting intelligence, most of which are easy though not always quick. Many of my serendipitously discovered tips for boosting creativity are even easier (though so abstruse virtually no one knows them), but some of them require sacrifices few people would endure. The latter are the ones likely most responsible for my big ideas, but without such breakthroughs, you can still make a decent living and help people by inventing. So before you commit to a medical career, consider inventing. Had someone given me that advice when I was young, they would have done me a huge favor.