Life During/After

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Life During/After

Postby VessleOfGod » Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:06 am

Hey I was thinking. During and after med school, or all of your training years, will you have time to do things you like to do? I hear many complaints about doctors not having lives..and for those of us who like to do a lot and have many talents, it is hard for us to choose a career in medicine knowing that our lives will be solely based on our job. For an example if I were an anesthegiologist (spell check) , realistically speaking, would I have time to own and run a non profit organization... I know there are many variables but Im just curious.
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Re: Life During/After

Postby DOdoc » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:44 pm

Hi, and thank you for the question.

Well, this question will have as many answers as there are physicians, and I can guarantee you their answers will range from 'definitely no' to 'absolutely yes'. As such, I can only provide my personal observations and feelings and give you my two cents--but another doc can come along behind me and argue against each reason, and they would be completely correct. Let me explain:

Unfortunately, there are so many variables to consider so the answer is nebulous to say the least even in the simpliest of circumstances. But let's look at them broken down into slightly smaller pieces.

First of all, you will spend a great deal of time from the beginning of your journey to the end (in this situation, I am refering to the time you spend from the first day of undergrad to the last day of residency). Even within this statement, the time varies greatly depending on different factors. For example, residency in one field may last three years, and in another field, five. No matter which specialty or subspecialty you choose, however, it's basically the same. Undergrad requires diligence and effort, especially given the added pressure of performance. Once you are in medical school, those pressures do change and grades become less important (except in cases perhaps where a student is aiming for an extremely competitive program, in which case grades will make some difference, but for the most part, grades don't carry the same weight as they did in undergrad). A well-known saying: do you know what they call the person who graduated last in their medical school class? Simple: doctor. I do not mean to sound as if to not take them seriously--it's just their impact is different, and even this is debatable. What ISN'T debatable is what students go through to get to the end of residency...it takes a long time, a lot of money or resources, sacrificing and giving up certain things, and above all else, commitment. But with that said, I think most docs would say medical school as a whole isn't THAT bad--it's just different. Residency IS demanding, and at times, very tough. But thousands of people get through it each year.

So what my point is, is simply that through all of this, you will experience a largely artificial reality that is different from life before, and it will be different from life after. What I am trying to say is that once you complete residency--that world WILL be easier than the several years preceeding. Will it be like what life was like before medical school? Probably not.

You are correct in stating that many physicians are becoming less and less happy and I'm truly sad to say that it's much more likely to get worse before it gets better. It's a fact that doctors as a whole are working far more for significantly less and I just don't see it getting better. Doctors who yesterday were working 40-50/hours per week today must now work 50-60/hours per week to make the same income. As depressing as that is--and I feel it IS depressing--when you look at the field as a whole by comparision, the field is fairly stable (which means job security) and the incomes aren't THAT bad one would need to be concerned about starving. You get my point. So beyond residency, life will certainly improve.

Second. Your life will be very much connected to your career choice. But so are the overwhelming majority of other professions (think about police officers, airline pilots, trial lawyers, etc.). When I met my to-be future spouse while in undergrad, I said that, "if you marry me, you're also marrying my job". Medicine will likely always be the 'other woman/man'.

I know this sounds pretty doom and gloom, but the reality is that most doctors DO have time to do those things they want--just like any other profession. Personally, I love my life. I travel when I take vacation--when it's scheduled and that time is covered appropriately. I work on average roughly 60 hours a week, but I love what I do (internal medicine). It has its challenges, but it also has substantial rewards. I would suppose it would boil down to the individual. What I do is not for everyone, but there are plenty of very hard work type of jobs out there I couldn't do.

Life will be what you make it.

There are plenty of part-time jobs, locum positions, temporary posts, contracted jobs, etc., etc., etc. You'll just need to find the job that suits and fits into the life you want--you aren't forced or obligated to work a minimum number of hours per week for the rest of your life...it really is just up to you.

As far as being able to do anesthesia and run a non-profit...again, this will depend on you, not the job. If you want to make the time to be able to do so, you will. If you want to work only a certain number of hours per week, then that's what you'll do. If a practice is in need of an anesthesiologist and you only want to work 30 hours per week, then you would negociate this upon hire. You negociate your call time...everything. Either the practice accepts your terms, or they don't. If they don't, you move on and look elsewhere. It's honestly not that difficult in practice.

Hope that helps, and I would be curious to see what other doctors think...

Good luck in your pursuits!

Dr.F.
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