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Old 06-13-2018, 08:52 AM   #1
TheLonelyChemist
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Default Can a severely mentally ill person become a doctor?

I always wanted to be a doctor. But due to my not-so-well upbringing and brain injury at an early age coupling that with my parent's parenting style, I couldn't be one. Not to mention the exam center was away from my hometown and I had caught chickenpox. Plus I am not eligible for it, as board results (qualifying exam for the minimum standard to get an admission to medical college) come after the medical entrance exam and I fail to meet the minimum grades.


So I sound like a textbook of medicine (not in the way I wanted) and am casually left wondering if a severely mentally ill person can become a doctor? Considering the fact that of course his parents still abuse him and is a completely social awkward. It's not common for a dysfunctional family (which makes the person mentally ill, not schizophrenic but at least does a good damage to the person's mental health) to perfectly deal with the aspiring-doctor-who-is-mentally-ill and care for him as a normal family would.



There's a series from House MD creators named the Good Doctor that's about an autistic surgical resident. A lot of people say it isn't medically realistic but dramatically well-executed. I personally cannot stand the social stress of being in a pure science class (not overachievers, socially alive, therefore prey on the weak or the socially inept) rather than a medical class where the student is more likely to be sincere and less likely to be a goon waiting to prey on some socially inept classmate.


But I don't think I could stand the INTELLECTUAL and EMOTIONAL strain in med school as well. It'd be pretty ridiculous for a brain damage patient who forgets almost everything while reading to try to cram all the knowledge of textbooks. Not to mention lab records, practicals, etc.


Ah, the horrors of world!
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Can a severely mentally ill person become a doctor?

I think to become a doctor it's down to the grades you get
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Can a severely mentally ill person become a doctor?

Of course grades matter. There's no denying that. But to be a doctor, I believe you need to


1) Have compassion for others
2) Be healthy, as med school is very hard as medical students put it.
3) Have an interest in life sciences.


Of course the three of them are useless without grades, but it's not impossible that getting grades alone will prepare you for med school.
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Old 06-13-2018, 10:08 AM   #4
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There are severely mentally ill people who are doctors. They sometimes do things that are not acceptable and are punished by law for their actions. One doctor with bipolar who was a gynecologist branded women with his signature on their bellies after a C-section. His lawyer said he had Pick's disease with Alzheimer's but in reality he has bipolar disorder. He had his license suspended. I don't think all severely mentally ill doctors break the law but some have to quit because their illnesses interfere with their work. For example, Debbie Thomas the Olympic champion who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder made it through residency and had a practice. However, she made too many professional mistakes and it cost her. She lost her license to practice medicine. I think it is very difficult to practice medicine with a severe mental illness. I myself have gone through medical school and graduated but did not make it through residency. This was due to my inability to perform because of my mental illness which had become very severe from lack of medication compliance. I was extremely happy to have left the medical field because I knew myself I was not suitable and not motivated in doing it. Having a severe mental illness interferes with one's good judgment which is critical in making decisions as a doctor. I would not discourage those who have a severe mental illness from becoming doctors if they are motivated and suitable for such a profession. However, there are too many examples of doctors with severe mental illness who err in judgment and take actions that are not considered very professional as a result end up harming their patients and themselves at times. The suicide rate for doctors is already high. To compound the stress one undergoes to become a doctor with a severe mental illness is a formula for a tragedy waiting to happen sometimes. People who go to medical school are not as compassionate as you may think. Some are in medicine solely for the money it makes. I met some a-holes there who were as compassionate as John Wayne Gacy. You should not believe that all who go into the medical field are in it to save people's lives. There are all kinds of people who go into medicine. Some are decent while others are not. The best doctors are also not the nicest either. There are some really mean doctors who work hard to be the best doctors. I'd rather have someone who is knowledgeable and works hard to be on top of their specialty to be my doctor rather than someone who is just nice and does not know what they are doing. Being a good doctor is hard work. A doctor who is nice and capable is hard to find these days unfortunately. Getting back to your point, there are doctors with severe mental illness. Those who are competent continue to practice while those who don't, don't make it. It is the same for all other health professions. There are severely mentally ill nurses, physician assistants, dentists, etc. They all need to be licensed and be able to perform their duties in spite of their illnesses. If they can't fulfill their duties, then they can no longer work in their profession. In a nutshell, the question is whether or not it is worth the risk of becoming a doctor given that one has a severe mental illness? I think this is up to the individual and his/her capabilities. Some doctors with severe mental illness may actually be good doctors. It depends on their decision-making ability and performance in the end. I had a psychiatrist who had Asperger's syndrome and he was quite good. He never told me about his illness but his twitches and lack of emotions made me realize he was not an ordinary person or doctor. He was very good but not a very nice person. He was very aloof but knowledgeable. I did not like him as a person but knew he was well-informed and had done his research. He was a Harvard medical school graduate. I give credit to all Harvard medical school graduates by the way. All of the doctors from Harvard are in a class by themselves. They are the best in their field and deserve respect. I have met several Harvard graduates and they have been the best doctors I have encountered. Anyways, I apologize for my ramblings.
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: Can a severely mentally ill person become a doctor?

Can a severely mentally ill person become a doctor - Hmmm.

I think it's possible, yes. If you can learn to manage your illness well, cope with pressure, utilize a support network etc., and have the academic mindset and functionality to see you through, then, sure. Why not. People achieve all kinds of goals all the time with all sorts of different psychological or physical challenges. Look at the film A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe - about a man struggling with schizophrenia whose work goes on to win him a Nobel Prize in economics, I think it was. Or that guy who climbed Mt. Everest with no legs. What about Helen Keller or Howard Hughs? [Howard Hughs struggled toward the end though, but he achieved a lot] You have to be honest with yourself as well though, and know your limitations.
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Old 06-13-2018, 01:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can a severely mentally ill person become a doctor?

I am sure they can.
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:10 PM   #7
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Yes they can just because someone has a mental illness does not prevent them from going ahead to be a doctor. They are most likely to have much more understanding of what people with mental illness go through. If they are on there meds and seek treatment i see no problem with going ahead to med school
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Old 06-14-2018, 12:01 AM   #8
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Bpforever1, thank you for your opinion, coming from someone who is famous for rambling.


mote.of.soul, I do not think it's recommended, yes possible, but not recommended for people with severe mental illness to be doctors. I have had experience. Everywhere I go people gawk at me and are like "He's nuts" and it wouldn't work well if I showed my disorganized speech to my colleague surgeons or the patient's family. It'd go like



"Ma'm um..... ah.... *avoids eye contact* The patient has well... um... successfully survived through the operation... I am ... um.... Dr.<name> and I was the lead surgeon *shakes head* of your husband's -"
"He's my father"
"Oops, sorry... umm... your father's condition... I forgot its name. Oh, here's my license. I am a licensed surgeon!"
*Proceeds to file a lawsuit*
"Who let this nutcase perform a surgery on my husband?"


justafriend, they can if the disease is purely genetic. If they weren't abused, have a good network of friends and family, are social, etc. etc.


Cheryl, but from what I know, people with mental illness are disabled themselves and even though they've a greater understanding they cannot do anything except talk therapy. It's just the harsh reality of life.
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:33 AM   #9
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I cannot even be online without sounding ridiculous. Imagine how life offline for me may be. I wanted to be a doctor equivalent to the pre-accident Doctor Strange. I don't have the brains for it let alone the hands. A ridiculous-looking doctor is not welcome in any hospital. I cannot even be an actor portraying to be a well-reputed doctor, because I haven't even got the looks to be a doctor. On the other hand, there are doctors like Doctor Mike who are ridiculously fit, handsome, have a good memory, free from mental illness and are able to be be successful in their careers.
In the particular video I gave link for, I had tears rolling down my cheeks at the scene (it's shown there) where the other doctor says "You saved his life" and everyone on the crowd claps. What further made me cry is that they show the boy's parents being grateful and all.


Now I know it's just acting. But saving people's lives was my dream. I wasn't crying because it was ME wanted the fame, I never wanted fame, I just wanted to be helpful. I didn't want their blessings either, I just wanted to see the patient's face smiling, their family grateful that I saved their loved one's life.


In this world of great harm, people do not have the time to sit there and thank each other for the good that they've done to each other, they just exchange piece of papers and be grateful for that. Doctors are burnt out because of seeing patients. Patients kill doctors and doctors kill patients. I know life isn't how it is portrayed in TV, but I still had hope the work I will do might save one person's life and improve another's.



As Derek Shepherd put it, "It's a beautiful day to save lives."


It was, probably. Everyday, for me.
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Old 06-14-2018, 07:44 AM   #10
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It's not just about becoming a MD, It's also about being able to deal with patients unless stay in a research capacity only with no patient contact.

If the MI is totally controllable & one has the actual skills & ability to do the work it takes to get through med school & the rotations required in the hospital work then the residency time. Even people without MI struggle to get through all the requirements.

I wanted to be a flute performer in a symphony. Bottom line....I didn't have the talent even practicing 8 hours a day to compete with the really talented musicians. In other words it is more than desire or even mental ability to do something....there is an internal talent that gets one to where they want to be.

I personally want an MD with that kind if ability working on me, not one who just squeeked by.
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