Some people have a perception that doctors are in the hands of “big business” and conspire with pharmaceutical companies to create psychiatric conditions and put patients on medication for profit. (Psychiatrists in particular may be portrayed rubbing their hands together with glee, eager to experiment on children with “mild-altering” drugs.) There is little concrete evidence to support this. Think of the mindset of a doctor who goes into research. Although most physicians make comfortable salaries, there are far more profitable ways to earn a living. It takes a particular personality to make it through the rigors of medical school. One must enjoy science and have a strong measure of self-discipline. Despite the cliché, most people who graduate from medical school genuinely want to help people and take pride in seeing patients improve under their care.

It takes a very special person to go even further by giving up the comforts of a clinical practice in favor of academic research. It is well known that the scientist sacrifices salary for the opportunity to make new discoveries and aid research. People who are primarily interested in financial profit would be foolish to attempt a research career. Discoveries are slow to occur, and any profit goes to the institution supporting the research. Scientists are curious about how the world works and are much more interested in discovering the truth. Because their academic reputations are critical to their careers, they guard them painstakingly.

It is also an unfortunate fact that funding for research from government institutions has been cut dramatically over the past several years. Most researchers by necessity must rely on support from pharmaceutical companies for their research. They are typically on multiple panels from different companies with competing medications. This is disclosed during academic presentations and in journal articles. Researchers who changed their research findings to make profits for pharmaceutical companies would almost certainly be discovered and discredited.

Their academic careers would be over.

Of course, some unethical people do become physicians, just as they become teachers, police officers, lawyers, business people, and any other type of professional. It is these people who tend to be highlighted in the media, and not the millions of hard-working, caring individuals who quietly go about their lives trying to make a positive difference for others.