Why there’s an oncoming shortage of doctors

Here are some statistics:

There are 24.2 doctors per every 10,000 people in the US. 1.7 doctors per every 10,000 in Angola. 37.8 in Belgium. 48.6 in Austria. 0.6 in Benin. 2.3 in Cambodia. 1.9 in Afghanistan. 3.4 in Botswana. 33.4 in Estonia. 1.1 in Gambia. 6.4 in Morocco. 4.9 in Sri Lanka. 0.5 in Papua New Guinea. 20.7 in Canada.*

*Stats provided by The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation

Now guess how many doctors there are per 10,000 in the world? 13.9. Isn’t that messed up? Shouldn’t your health be your first priority? If so, why do we have so many little doctors?

Growing up, everyone dreams of doing something magical: becoming a doctor, an engineer, being the next President of the US, curing cancer, exploring space as an astronaut, discovering how to time travel. How come so many people grow up to work 9-5 in a cubicle? Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but are you happy? Have you never dreamed of more? Please, do look me square in the eye and tell me you are completely satisfied and content with your 9-5 office job working for someone else.

Why are we stripped of our dreams as we grow up? The thing is, we’re not. There is no single force that tells you when you’re 13, “Alright, you have no chance at being a doctor so do something more reasonable.” The thing is, society tells you this. Society tells you medical school is hard and it’s a lot of time and money. However, society doesn’t tell you no.

It’s self-doubt that holds people back from shooting for the stars. A lot of people say “Well, I didn’t do great in high school, so I’m too stupid to become a doctor.” Here’s a fun fact: not all doctors were valedictorian!! Not all doctors were top of the class and passed through school easy-breezy. It’s hard work. The only reason we have the doctors we do and shine such a heavenly light on them is because it’s hard to be a doctor. It’s hard to go through rigorous medical school. It’s hard to take out a second mortgage on your house as you tough through student loans. I get it, I know.

But you know what’s harder for everyone that became President or a doctor or a politician or engineer? Giving up on your dream. You can always quit and give up, but they didn’t. They held on and persevered with courage, diligence, love, passion.

We’re taught at such a young age to shoot for the stars yet we look down on how “unrealistic” it is to become an Olympian or Actress or discovering the cure to cancer. We grow up in this idealistic “you can do anything, you got this” but as we grow up, there’s this underlying message of doubt.

Example: I want to go to Stanford. Oh how I dream of Stanford. If you know me at all, you know I love Stanford. But let’s be real, my chances of getting into Stanford are so unbelievably small. Anyone’s chances of getting into Stanford is small. But you know what? I’m hopeful. I believe I have a good shot at Stanford, not because I have a perfect GPA or SAT score or I do anything overly amazing. But because I have a dream that I want to achieve – a dream that I’m determined to make a reality.

Call me naive, go ahead. And in some ways, I am most definitely very naive. I’m too innocent to the harsh reality of rejection. I’m too foolish to be realistic. But you know what? You won’t ever go anywhere in life if you don’t dream. All great things start with a thought, a whisper, a dream. All great people will pursue it, no matter how ridiculously impossible.

I’m so caught up in this dream, I might even trip and fall. But if you don’t ever try for your dreams, you’ll never achieve greatness, make a difference, or fulfill yourself.

If you ever doubt yourself or are afraid of reaching for the impossible: let no one tell you to stop. Go forward and stretch your fingers towards the sky until your shoulder feels like it’ll pop out of its own socket. Reach for the skies and jump for the stars and aim to be the best you can possibly be.

xoxo Phuong Nam

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