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The Worst Jobs a Doctor Could Have (And Some Better Alternatives)

The Worst Jobs a Doctor Could Have (And Some Better Alternatives)


Becoming a doctor has always been regarded as a safe, surefire path to the good life. Many a mother has admonished their son or daughter to "grow up and be a doctor someday." And yet, not every doctor is living the high life our cultural mythology says he should be living. In this article, we'll look at the darker side of the medical profession to uncover some of the not-so-prestigious jobs that doctors are doing.

The Freakonomics blog lists five jobs as the worst jobs a doctor could have. The criteria? Mary Black, a public health physician in Maryland, sums it up nicely. "These are jobs that seriously compromise ethical and moral standards, are difficult to justify to your children, and are likely to be a source of regret on your deathbed." Wow! Powerful words indeed. Well, using this as an interpretive touchstone, let's examine each of these jobs in more detail - and propose some better alternatives!

1. Head of medical services at Guantanamo Bay.

No matter what your particular moral and ethical beliefs are, it's pretty tough to have a worse job than the guy in charge of administering medical care and monitoring to suspected terrorists! Imagine giving flu shots or annual physicals to prisoners who have been ripped out of their native lands and confined on a tropical island. Dim as it may sound, you can be sure that one unlucky soul does exactly that on a regular basis. Yuck!

Better job: Head of medical services for a pro sports team.

Looking for a less stressful and more prestigious way to put that grad school training to work? Top trainers and medical professionals for pro sports teams are charged with the care of multi-million dollar athletes, and some even get to travel with the team and attend games for free! At the very least, you can administer medical care without the constant worry of being attacked or ambushed by insurgents.

2. Research scientist at any major tobacco company.

Since most people equate tobacco companies with Satan incarnate, saying you work for one isn't likely to score you too many points at your girlfriends' parents' house or the annual Church social. Instead, most outsiders will tend to view you with a mixture of disgust, suspicion, and fear. But as with every unsavory job, "somebody's gotta do it!"

Better job: Research scientist at a biotech startup looking to cure cancer.

No one takes the moral high road more than cancer cure researchers, so if looking great in the public eye is an instinct you possess, you might want to consider signing onto this kind of work. The mass public generally casts a more favorable eye on people working to cure awful diseases than those looking to make cigarettes even more addicting than they are!

3. Biochemical weapons developer.

Here's another job you might feel awkward talking about to your girlfriend or fiancé's relatives. Picture the conversation now: "Yup, I'm a doctor. I'm a lawyer. I'm a sports agent. Where do you work?" "Well... y'see... I help create new and more destructive biochemical weapons!" You'd smile nervously, as the relatives begin to wonder just what on Earth their daughter, niece, or cousin is getting involved with. Plus, it must be a little unnerving to know that you provide for your sustenance by making it easier for people and civilizations to be destroyed!

Better job: Biochemical weapons consultant to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Uneasy about helping the spread of weapons, but don't want to give up on the field entirely? Try lending your advanced chemical and biological expertise to the fight to stop such weapons, such as the Department of Homeland Security or other purely defensive-minded groups. That way, you can stay up on all the latest advances in weaponry without actually creating them yourself!

4. Surgeon in the commercial kidney transplants trade.

Let me guess: you're staring blankly into your morning Corn Flakes when it hits you that your job is to operate on people so down on their luck and desperate for money that they sell their extra body parts to the highest bidder. You ponder the thought a bit further and decide that this state of affairs simply cannot continue. So what's an unsavory surgeon to do?

Better job: Surgeon on the receiving end of the commercial kidney transplant trade.

Far less shady of a job would be to only perform surgeries on people receiving new kidneys. In these cases, you're just a surgeon doing his job, helping to ensure that someone receives the body part they need to sustain their lives. At the same time, you get to wash your hands of all the details, exactly how that kidney came to be in his possession. It's the best of both worlds!

5. Sports doping doctor.

With the recent release of Senator Mitchell's investigation into steroid use in baseball, there's never been a worse time to be the guy holding the syringe! For months, we've heard stories about steroid-injecting trainers and doctors getting indicted and accused of crimes. This simply was not what you signed on for when you decided to become a doctor.

Better job: Sports surgeon.

The demand for excellent surgeons in pro sports far exceeds the supply. As evidence, notice that almost every pitcher who goes under the knife is operated on by one man: Dr. James Andrews, who is so renowned for the quality of his work that virtually all teams send their injured players to him. If you can display a similar level of skill, you can totally carve out some of the sports surgery market for yourself!


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