Do you encourage today’s young people to pursue careers in healthcare? Why or why not?

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 - j-blankenshipTo my grandchildren, I would say…

Are you insecure? Healthcare is recession proof and unlikely to be outsourced offshore.

Are you financially worried? Healthcare jobs pay well, in some cases outrageously well.

Are you adventurous? Healthcare is needed in exotic settings where few are bold enough to go.

Are you innovative? Healthcare begs for innovation, from basic science research to global health policy.

Are you good with your hands? The best place for skilled hands is on the handle of a scalpel.

Are you intellectual? Daily your mind will be challenged by strange symptoms and insoluble problems.

But all of these miss the point. At the end of a day, or at the end of a career, you will have provided for yourself and your family by whatever work you did. But what feeds your soul is the satisfaction of knowing that you relieved pain or suffering and eased the path of fellow travelers through this perilous world. There is no greater calling.

Jim Blankenship, MD, MHCM

Chair of Cardiology, Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa.

 - s-raoAbsolutely. Medicine is a great field where you can really make a positive difference in people’s lives. While there are always going to be regulatory or financial pressures and challenges, the foundation of medicine, which is a person-to-person interaction with the patient, is incredibly rewarding. Patients come to us for help during the most vulnerable time in their life, and we physicians are privileged to be part of the process that seeks to help them.

Sunil V. Rao MD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center; Section Chief, Cardiology, Durham VA Medical Center, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

 - m-savageAbsolutely. The tone of the question speaks to the fact that the contemporary practice of medicine has a lot of negative baggage. Among these include shrinking reimbursements with increasingly costly overhead, inefficiencies brought on by the failed promise of current electronic health record systems, the existential angst of malpractice suits and the pressure to see more patients with less time—to name only a few. These annoyances, however, do not detract from the essence of being a healer. There are few vocations more worthwhile than to restore a sick person to good health or to save a life. The emotional and spiritual rewards are priceless and yet a career in medicine still remains a way to do well for yourself by doing well for others. Would I encourage young people to pursue a career in healthcare today? As my daughter embarks on her internship in family medicine, I can again affirm—absolutely!

Michael P. Savage, MD

Ralph J. Roberts Professor of Cardiology and Director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia