Physicians who have a strong sense that a career in medicine is their true calling turn out to get a lot more satisfaction out of dealing with issues such as smoking cessation, obesity, and alcoholism than do doctors who don't really like their work. A study led by Kenneth Rasinski, PhD, of the University of Chicagoand published in the Archives of Internal Medicine noted that "Nicotine dependence, obesity, and alcoholism respond to treatment by primary care physicians, but research suggests established treatment protocols are rarely used . . . It may be that physicians shy away from addressing these multifaceted, often obdurate conditions because they find that treating them is unsatisfying."
The researchers hypothesized that physician satisfaction would be lower for those who are dissatisfied with their careers in general and also for those who "believe patients are responsible for these conditions." Their results proved them right. Career satisfaction was measured as agreement or disagreement with the statement, “If I had it to do over again, I would not choose medicine as a career.” Physicians were also asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “For me, the practice of medicine is a calling.”
The authors cautioned that their study is limited "in that data were generated by physician self-reports" and that cause and effect have not been proved. The team recommends that future research "should examine the relationship of physicians' sense of calling, their career satisfaction, their attribution of responsibility for the disorders to patients, and their satisfaction in treating the disorders to the actual implementation of treatment plans for these 3 common medical disorders that have such important health consequences."
In the meantime, if you or someone you love is struggling with any or all of the addictions studied by these researchers, you would do well to tune in to whether or not your current physician has a mission to mend or is simply in it for the money! Actually, that holds true no matter what conditions or diseases you may have.