In Peru—and I guess it is the same in other countries—when you say that you are going to study medicine, your family, friends, and classmates suddenly see you as someone superior. They think, “Wow, medicine. Too much sacrifice; too hard, too long, and too expensive.” But, truly, they are proud of you, because you are going to become the family and the neighbourhood “doctor,” the envy of your schoolmates, and maybe even the envy of other people. But what does that matter?
Medicine has been seen through history as one of the most self sacrificial careers. Everybody expects doctors to know a little bit of everything—medicine, engineering, law, art, and so on. In Peru, after finishing medical school, you have to work in a rural area, and sometimes you can travel for three days—by plane, bus, walking, and donkey—to get there. In most rural areas the level of education is