Yes, it is rather odd how many doctors smoke and also drink to excess. It has always been a bit of a joke that it's better to be operated on by a surgeon on cocaine than a drinker as they have steadier hands. Eeek.
. . . and if I had remembered to actually answer the question, I might have put that perhaps it is a hard task to be confronted with mortality every single day. A lot of secular people drink to forget so why should doctors be any different? I would not like to have their dreams.
They ought to know better but I guess its better to give advice than take it. I know doctors who smoke and drink, eat poorly and have vices that they would warn us about. Knowing really is only half the battle.
Well, of all the doctors I have worked with, and that is quite a few, in hospitals, most work around 16 hours a day. They were there when I started my shift, and were still there sometimes until 2am. They were expected to start back at work at 7am. I'm sure that they prefered to have some sleep, or rush home to study, than to go to the gym !! Yes, poor eating habits probably started from these early years of study when it was easier to grab some Maccas, as no food stores are open at midnight, except take away stores. I daresay that they were probably smoking well before they started studying to be a doctor. Once they graduate, there are still long hours, but admittedly not AS long. Once you do all your rounds, there are outpatients, consulting privately, and don't forget surgery. Once they drive home late at night, a brandy or two might be in order. It can be a more sedentary job, if you sit around seeing patients all day. After work, many go out to dinner and drinks, to unwind, as we all do.
It baffles me that doctors and nurses do not have better working conditions. Who can be expected to function at 100% during such a long shift and with so little sleep? It just doesn't make sense. I once had a nurse administer morphine to me. He joked that I should stay still because he had already been at work for twelve hours, and if we made a mess, he would be there for another six. :-|
Apart from the obvious things that people have cited - long hours and little sleep - I think the answer to this question lies in the fact that doctors are human. It's like asking why do people smoke? Eat a lot of sugar? Sit rather than exercise? Watch porn? Gamble? Drink? We all know these things are bad for us, but many of us do these things anyway, and we do them because we can.
My GP leads a healthy life as far as diet and exercise but I know my Grandmother's GP doesn't. He works long hours and would eat the biscuits and lollies my Grandmother loved to give him when he turned up for her home visit. I often thought it would have been a better idea to offer him healthy food. He was tired and hungry and not in the best frame of mind to resist bad food.
My brother is a mechanic, and he has the crappiest cars I've ever seen .. I've asked him why he keeps them in such disrepair and been told that its because he can fix whatever breaks down. Maybe doctors are the same, they feel they can fix whatever goes wrong before it breaks down completely.
Because most doctors think that they are so close to being God, that they can get away with anything. They probably also feel that it is their God given right talk down to their patients, regardless of their own faults and failings.