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Having a non-work life if you go into surgery - is it possible?

Discussion in 'Allopathic' started by SchroedingrsCat, Apr 26, 2012.

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  1. Ronin786

    Ronin786 ASA Member

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    If you want to have a life outside of work you will have one. If dedicating yourself solely to work is what makes you happy good for you, but it is still possible to make a comfortable amount of money and have a healthy family without working obscene hours.
  2. CatFactorial

    CatFactorial

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    I hope my family will be healthy, I'm a docta!

    EDIT

    USMLE induced delirium. Plz disregard k? Thanx.
  3. JP2740

    JP2740

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    I'm not proposing ****ing up your family for medicine, but I am against not being as good as you can be in medicine just because of your family. If you can't handle both then don't do it. On one end, you're criticizing people who prioritize medicine over family (causing you and family to suffer presumably), but when family is over-prioritized on medicine, I think the patients are the ones who suffer. You need to evaluate if you can handle all of that. Many students I talk to don't give a **** about the field except what it can do for them, and a few doctors I've talked to agree that a small percentage of doctors really give a **** at the end of the day. These guys also worked long hours and had families, that supposedly figured out a way to make it work.

    I think at the end of the day it takes a lot of sacrifice to be great in medicine. But maybe I'm just a naive med student: most of this here though, has been reiterated to me by physicians alogng the way.
  4. SteinUmStein

    SteinUmStein

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    Bingo. This is my hypothesis of what goes on in the minds of physicians who want to work 80+ hrs/week their entire career and still have the white picket fence, trophy wife, kids, the works. It's about dominating every aspect of life, complete control, winning every possible "contest", from the MCAT to the boards to the most competitive specialty. The more elite residency program the better, the more hours the better. Oh crap, I'm 35 with no family and society defines success as having a full household! K, better grab a wife and some kids to go with my McMansion and compensatory sports car, and back to the hospital/clinic/OR. I won, see?? :rolleyes:
  5. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

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    This is where we will differ in opinions.

    At what cost? What if you could be better by working 100 hours per week? What about 120 hours? What if you kept getting better. In the end, there must be a point where we say, "The end of my life was not to advance medicine or achieve some elusive goal." The truth is this: you can always get better, you will never be the best surgeon on earth, you will never be able to reach your potential.

    It's not about sacrifice or hard work, it's about priorities. I think any man can work extremely hard and sacrifice some things, but the second you begin to sacrifice your health and family, you begin to lose this game. And how is this done? Surreptitiously under the banner of "get better, be the best". No one sets out to destroy their family life or health, instead they slowly acquiesce to the multitudinous demands of their career which will multiply without intentional resistance.

    Anytime there is a discussion on this forum, individuals will attempt to polarize stances... "Oh, he's saying to put family first and be a terrible physician, to not to your best, take advantage of the system, not care about patients." This is not what I said. I advocate a moderate position, work your tail off, work with everything you've got during that time, be the best servant you can be to every patient and your staff, but at some point (maybe 80 hrs a week?) you have to say "no, I realize I could see another patient or become even better, but the purpose of my existence is not to serve medicine." This is when and where you take care of your health, family, and enjoy a hobby.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  6. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    What's the treatment for super Type-A personalities?
  7. JP2740

    JP2740

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    I personally know a general surgeon who works 80 hours a week and has 4 kids for many years. It's working for him (maybe time will tell? He's 55). It can be done, no one said it's easy. Just because you're a surgeon it doesn't mean you can't have kids.
  8. SteinUmStein

    SteinUmStein

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    EtOH? Benzos? Blunt force to the back of the head? :laugh: Kidding, kidding...

    Re: Jack & JP2740 - In the end, we're not soulless robots built for the purpose of serving the medical establishment. We have lives too, and that fact should never be discarded in the pursuit of perfection. Diminishing returns set in somewhere past the 80 hour mark as well - an exhausted, burnt-out surgeon who hasn't seen his kids in 3 days is not a good surgeon. For better or worse, we remain human.
  9. JP2740

    JP2740

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    Feeding the fire
  10. SteinUmStein

    SteinUmStein

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    Oh, absolutely. I never said surgeons couldn't have kids. I said surgeons who pursue medicine to the exclusion of everything else shouldn't have kids because they will be doing their kids (and spouses and society) a disservice. I know surgeons who have very balanced and healthy home lives. They also don't work 80+ hours/week. Maybe in residency they did, but not over the course of their careers.
  11. JP2740

    JP2740

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    Honestly my willingness to work long hours (I'm still a med student, haven't decided on surgery yet, but the interest is there) has nothing to do with being a soulless robot or working for the sake of working. Maybe you missed a point somewhere in there that you're actually helping other people out in there, which does not seem soulless robot-like to me. I see where you guys are coming from though, so I'm not oblivious to your points.
  12. JP2740

    JP2740

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    I like chicken wings and I have finals in a couple weeks. I should probably hit the books instead of arguing back and forth.

    P.S. I love you guys
  13. SteinUmStein

    SteinUmStein

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    Muah! :love: Best of luck. As someone famous (Lincoln?) once said - Whatever you are, be a good one. If you follow that rule I don't think you can go wrong in life.

    Unless what you are is some sort of criminal or terrorist - in that case, be a bad one.
  14. Ibn Alnafis MD

    Ibn Alnafis MD

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    That's the reason I decided to get married and have a kid before med school, so by the time I'm done with my internship, my so start junior high. Like this, I'm not missing out on the most important stage of my son's life.

    I'm blessed that my wife is very considerate of my academical and future occupational demands. That's the key to lead successful family and career lives.

    One important thing to understand is that once you have a family, you must dedicate all of your free time to be with them. Forget about boys night out. Instead, adopt other activities that you can do with your family. Also remember, when you are with them, BE with them.
  15. st0w

    st0w plasticperineum syndrome

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    ^ This.

    It can be done, absolutely. I'm surprised at some of the misinformation in this thread that it's impossible to live such a life. It is absolutely possible for one to structure their life in such a way. I've had conversations with heads of surgical departments where they've expressed a desire to hire surgeons to only work 40 hours/4 days per week, but they have trouble finding people who have that kind of interest. And that's in an academic hospital, not just private practice.

    Nobody's saying residency is easy. It's not. Surgical residency typically pushes the boundaries of the 80 hour work week. But if you look up various other programs on FREIDA, you'll see that the majority of other fields are almost always 70+ hours as well. And the hours do get easier once you're an attending.

    Attendings don't operate 5-6 days per week, unless they're on call that week and picking up all of the non-scheduled cases. And the frequency of that depends on the size of the attending pool. There are seven neurosurgery attendings at one of our hospitals, so they only take call one week out of every seven. Another surgical team has only three. When they're not the on-call attending that week, they usually operate 1-2 days, then have clinic, research, and other activities. And I've often seen them working more human hours than a lot of urban legends might have you believe, with happy, healthy family lives.

    But nothing comes without cost. If you want to work fewer hours, you'll probably be doing a less broad array of procedures, since you won't have as many hours to remain current and practiced. And that might come at the cost of decreased motivation to work because of boredom at doing more and more narrow work. Plus, you won't have as much time for research.

    It's a trade-off. But it's not impossible.
  16. SteinUmStein

    SteinUmStein

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    Nobody said it was impossible. It just takes priorities and the willingness to take a pay cut.
  17. Lbgem

    Lbgem Junior Member

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    Well what other reactions do you get? I'd personally be insulted at first then maybe hurt, and then I'd probably take a look at what the actual prenup consists of. (I'm not a gold digger.) If I were expected/wanted to be the stay-at-home supporting the doctor spouse I'd expect to be taken care of in return if things didn't work out and I were giving up my career/etc for them. I wouldn't expect 50% of future earnings if I were a cheater or the marriage didn't last for more than 5 years.

    A friend of mine told me about one of her friends that married a doctor. She worked two jobs to support him/put him through med school, had kids with him. Then after med school/residency, she stayed at home and raised the kids, cooked all the meals, and was really in love with the guy. He ended up making lots of $$, they had a nice house, hired babysitters to watch the kids. Her whole life was basically centered around her husband (she hadn't made a lot of outside friends). Then she found out he was cheating on her with a much younger woman. She killed herself a short while later.

    I wish she had divorced him instead and took him to the cleaners.

    Basically, it can go both ways. Undeserving spouses shouldn't be able to get $, while deserving ones that have sacrificed just as much if not more than the doctor spouse should have some guarantee of security. A prenup makes me think (maybe incorrectly?) that it tends to favor the one with a lot of assets and leaves the other in the dust if anything happens in the future..
  18. SteinUmStein

    SteinUmStein

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    That's really sad, I hate hearing stories like that but it does happen. Fortunately the scumbag generally gets hosed in court and it works out ok, but not always.

    Prenups don't inherently favor anyone, they do whatever they are written to do. You can write a prenup that completely favors the wife or the husband, or one that totally hoses the cheater or instigator of the divorce, etc. If someone is really concerned they should either a) not get married or b) get their own lawyer to help write the prenup independent of their future spouse. It would suck and feel really slimy, but if the concern is there I'd say that's a better option than sacrificing your financial security for the rest of your life.

    Edit: after briefly scanning the Wiki article it looks like both parties probably need a lawyer anyway if they want a pre-nup that will hold up in court. Otherwise coercion is possible and the whole thing can be thrown out by the judge. Yeah, just find a spouse that you'd trust with your life or don't get married. That's just my opinion though...
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  19. Cello

    Cello

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    If you sign a prenup which favors your S/O significantly, I think you know immediately where their priorities lie and what they think of and expect from you.
  20. SteinUmStein

    SteinUmStein

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    I think that's part of why a lawyer for each party is necessary if you want to do a real prenup that will hold up in court, so when one person says, "But why would we need this clause in here about me cheating, I would never do that to you baby snookums sweetheart don't worry about it." Then the other person's lawyer steps in and says, "Yeah, no, it's definitely going in there." If you really need a prenup it better be fair to both parties, that's just ridiculous to set one person up for failure in case everything goes south. :thumbdown:
  21. Bancrofti

    Bancrofti

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    How's that working out for you (no sarcasm)? I feel that all parts of a child's life are important developmentally. Think about how many habits you have that were initiated around junior high or even beforehand. Also consider all the memories you have of being with both your parents doing this while you were younger. Maybe the abnormal psych class I took made me more nervous about these things than I need to be. However, I have met 2 different people who both had both parents as doctors and were pretty much raised by nannies. Both people are extremely "off" to say the least. I know that's a small sample size, but still...

    Well, the whole favoring the one with a lot of assets part seems to be the whole point..

    I mentioned it to my gf once and she got pretty pissed, which was completely understandable since she's been with me on and off since before I even made the decision to become a physician. If I did something wrong, then I feel she is owed something, especially if she's made life adjustments to accommodate my career. However, she seems a little flaky on not being able to see me all the time. I don't want her to decide after 10-15 years that she can't put up with it anymore and she needs to move on... and then she wants money, just because she couldn't handle a situation she knew about well in advance.

    Also, maybe it's just my insecurity from past experiences, but I feel that if there is a wife who has a lot of free-time because she isn't working, she will be the one more often than not who commits infidelity. Again, that's just how my logic works.. no clue what adultery statistics are.

    Sucks about your friend's friend though, that's really unfortunate.
  22. Frazier

    Frazier turtle in a rabbit race Lifetime Donor

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    Devil makes work of idle hands... or something like that.
  23. southernIM

    southernIM

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    I'll add my .02 since this thread has mostly consisted of students arguing with other students...

    First off, I think people really need to separate out training (residency and fellowship) from their ultimate practice.

    Yes, a surgery residency is hard. But try finding a GI fellow in the middle of the night when they are getting called in for bleeding, or a cards fellow doing a bedside echo in the cards ICU and ask them how "easy" they have it by choosing medicine. All medical training is hard and demands significant personal sacrifice.

    My mindset regarding work/life balance and training is that I HAVE to be selfish with these five years, HAVE to be comfortable with my training. I don't think you can half-a** a surgery residency. It's not fair to the patients who will be relying in you years down the road. That means, even when I'm tired and had tickets to a football game...if a patient shows up in the ER and needs to go to the OR...I'm staying to take care of them. I can't, personally, approach my training any other way, and that's the attitude I expect of my fellow residents and that they expect of me.

    That said...it's residency. It's finite. Your practice at the end is what you want it to be and you'd be amazed at the variety of options out there. I know plenty of surgeons who would scoff at the idea that they've given up their lives and deprioritized their families.

    And, despite my mini-rant above...I happen to love my life right now. I have time for social activities, an amazing girlfriend, have a great group of friends, and even though I work hard my life is as well balanced as it has been in a long time.
  24. Ibn Alnafis MD

    Ibn Alnafis MD

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    I agree with you that every stage of development is equally important. However, during the first 7 years are when the child's personality is formed; at that stage, concepts such as trust, autonomy, courage, and guilt are being minted. Plus, as kids grow up, they become more occupied with schooling and friends.

    Off course, I would love to be around for every baseball game and neighbor's kid's birthday party, but as it was mentioned above, it's the trade-off of pursuing one's sense of purpose.

    P.S. I recommend this book to anyone who has or planning to have children: http://www.amazon.com/Really-Need-Know-Learned-Kindergarten/dp/034546639X
  25. RadicalRadon

    RadicalRadon

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    lol, is this a regular thing for you? ridiculous.

    Paranoia. Just so you know, optometrists aren't really making bank such that this should be a huge issue for you. I think you may be confused and believe you are studying ophthalmology. ;)

    Boy, dude, I feel like you could benefit from some counseling/therapy.
  26. Shnurek

    Shnurek

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    [​IMG]

    Thanks, I really care.
  27. Thego2guy

    Thego2guy

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    I know two optometrist in a group practice, and both of them rack in $200k+ a year.
  28. RadicalRadon

    RadicalRadon

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    lol, seriously dude, who goes into relationships distrusting the other person's motives and gauges reactions to see if they're golddiggers? That's just weird and shows your insecurity. Clearly you have never had a relationship that was anywhere near marriage...

    This may be a semi-anonymous forum but your real personality does come through at times. Your post history tells a lot about you and what drives you. It's kind of a sad portrait. +pity+

    haha, that's good. you need a lot of income to live in NYC. Honestly, I hope ODs are compensated fairly. They do honest helpful work that benefits people. They shouldn't work for pennies. I'm only trying to irritate shrek since he's so adamant about how ODs can do what ophthos do. :smuggrin: More than that, he's just not very friendly or rational.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012

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