My friend asked me, "why don't you want to be a doctor?"
I said, "well, it's two things. First, I'm not very interested in healthcare. But, even if I were interested in healthcare, I wouldn't be a doctor because I could be making advances in other ways."
She asked me what I meant, so here was my thought process:
Incentives are everything.
If someone wanted to be a doctor because it'll give them status and money, then they are in it for the wrong reasons.
But if I wanted to be a doctor, my goal would be wanting to save the most amount of lives I can through healthcare. It seems like a good reason why someone would want to be a doctor.
But if this is my goal, becoming a regular doctor who runs a clinic or works at a Toronto hospital doesn't make sense. They aren't the most effective at making lives better through healthcare.
I was talking to my mom about her experience in nursing school, and she said the first thing she learned was to "always remove herself from the patient." She explained to me that doctors and nurses would see tons of people so they can't linger on one person.
So the incentives can become misaligned.
Initially, I became a doctor to make lives better, but now I have to tend to everyone I see. Could there be cases where I don't help a patient 100% so I can stay on schedule?
But regardless of what may be wrong with the incentive structures for doctors, I would think about my goal from a first-principles approach.
If I wanted to save lives, I would work on whatever kills people at the highest rate. If you are fortunate enough to not die from any other illness or disease, ageing is 100% going to kill you.
Sorry for being morbid, but hopefully you get the point.
So if ageing is now what I've identified as humanity's most significant killer, why wouldn't I work on solving that?
Isn't that maximizing the number of lives saved through healthcare?
Note 1: The doctors that you and I visit are still crucial to society. They are helping people.
Note 2: I went down a rabbit hole of looking into different doctors. I dug a bit deeper into a couple of organizations, and the people at Doctors Without Borders are incredible.