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Neurosurgeon lifestyle

Discussion in 'Neurosurgery' started by drpossible, Apr 15, 2012.

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  1. drpossible

    drpossible Member

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    I know there are several threads about this, but none seem to mention a few things.

    That said, I am thinking about pursuing neurosurgery. I really like neuroscience and the combination of surgery. But, I know neurosurgeon's hours are crazy and I want to have some life outside of work. So I have some questions in regard to academic neurosurgeons in large institutions (e.g. Massachusetts General, NY Presbyterian, Johns Hopkins, etc.):

    Can you limit your hours in exchange for lower pay to 70/75 hours?
    Not too concerned about this, but how much vacation time do you get?
    Also, is there any opportunity/time to do research?
    Who has a better lifestyle academic or private practice?
    Is the residency worth it in the end?

    Basically, can you have a semi-normal life to go to dinner, parties, etc as a neurosurgeon?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. kautionwirez

    kautionwirez Hadoken!

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    Not a neurosurgeon but I think I can answer some of your questions...

    Answers in bold

  3. drpossible

    drpossible Member

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    I know that the academic neurosurgeons typically work 100 hour weeks, but is it at all possible to lower that without jeopardizing your career?

    Also, I'm glad to hear that there is a year of research during residency, but can you also do formal, institution-supported basic research after residency?
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  4. tkim

    tkim D-d-d-dilaudid

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    I think he was looking for responses by neurosurgeons or nsurg residents. Unless you are one and haven't updated your status.
  5. drpossible

    drpossible Member

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    That would be ideal, but I'd appreciate any responses from anyone who knows what they're talking about, in terms of neurosurgery.
  6. bennybrak

    bennybrak

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    Interesting questions! I was flipping through a friend's book today entitled"So you want to be a brain surgeon"(a british book giving a synopsis on all the medical specialties viz., the myths and the reality) and the section on neurosurgery hit hard on terrible working hours and high divorce rate, among others. I am not sure if there is a similar book that clearly depicts various specialties and the lifestyle pattern of the doctors in those specialties(I'd be really happy to read it...if anyone has read any, pls recommend it to me). Personally, i think the gory lifestyle stated in books and on most threads is quite hyped(Disclaimer:I am not a masochist!)

    I'm a med student but from my experience during my subIs(@MGH and Inova Fairfax Hospital), i realized the residents have a lot of work load...but that of the attendings was not terrible, in my opinion, as most of them reported in the morning and went home at regular periods in the evening or at night, except when they had to do some emergency surgeries. Also, there were lots of opportunities for research and there was enough time to take a break for a Christmas party and other dinners outside the hospital.

    I don't know about cutting time to get less salary, that probably depends on the program, but i don't think i met any neurosurgeon who'd want to do that. The Attendings don't appear stressed or unhappy with their working hours. Just prepare for the worst during residency(you need to make some sacrifices, buddy, if you really want to be skillful..once you get it, it's yours...just like learning to play a musical instrument). I'm guessing it's much better in private practice, except for the fact that the coolest cases might end up at the large academic centers.

    In short, i think the lifestyle of a neurosurgeon is just reasonable and very rewarding, and it'll be worth it after it all, if you're really passionate about it.
  7. phenylacetone

    phenylacetone

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    Where do academics work 100 hour weeks? It's certainly not at my hospital.
  8. kautionwirez

    kautionwirez Hadoken!

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    Thank you for clarifying.
  9. drpossible

    drpossible Member

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    So, as for the research...
    I hear many neurosurgeons have to choose if they want to focus on surgery or research and basically shun the other. Is it possible to strike a balance? Can you do basic lab research and still maintain a healthy surgery practice?
  10. Chakrabs

    Chakrabs

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    Certainly, but usually only at a major research institution such as UCLA, Cornell, MGH etc which have neurosurgeons running significant research labs. Smaller programs typically have surgeons who do more clinical projects since they don't have the resources to run a full fledged research lab.
  11. kitsunepixie

    kitsunepixie Kunoichi Extraordinare

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    It really depends on your subspecialty in neurosurgery and the culture of the practice where you join. The PP group in my town has some surgeons who work 100 hours a week by choice (like the cranial surgeons who draw referrals from all over the world or the complex spine guys--who also do clinical research on the side) and others who work 60 hours (the general neurosurgeons with 8 kids). The same goes for the academics--the pediatric neurosurgeons work an insane amount of unpredictable hours, while the rest of them work 50-100, depending on whether it's a week that they're on day call/night call/spine call/cranial call, and whether they are famous and similarly draw a large elective patient base. A few of them have labs that they may spend several hours in on Sunday whatnot, while the other neurosurgeons go golfing with those hours.
  12. neusu

    neusu Chief Resident

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    Attendings at the places you mentioned have it pretty good. 1) you don't get paid as well to begin with because it's academics 2) typically 4+ weeks plus conferences etc 3) plenty of opportunity but never enough time to do research. 4) it's tough to tell, I lean more towards PP having a better lifestyle 5) residency is worth it if it's what you want to do/could not see yourself doing anything else in medicine. If you have doubts, then it is probably not for you.

    At academic centers, the attendings are very insulated from being on call. They have the junior resident to see all the patients and consults and the senior/chief to handle most everything. At MGH for example, the PGY7 e.g. North Chief, is a junior attending and takes call for the ER. The attendings are really only on call for their own patients and have the associated service chief there to act as a buffer between actually being called.

    I say PP has a better lifestyle because it pays more. This helps both in your satisfaction at home as well as hiring ancillary staff to take the burden off yourself. Having residents around is great for academics, but for private practice, having well trained PA/NPs to take call/round/assist in the OR is a viable option because reimbursement is higher. Likewise, the midlevel sticks around longer and if they assist in the OR you can bill for their participation.
  13. drpossible

    drpossible Member

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    I was also wondering, after residency, how hard is it to get a position at a major teaching hospital as both an attending and an assistant/associate professor (particularly in the northeast)? How does it compare to other smaller institutions or ones in other parts of the country?

    Also, just curious, how does one go about getting a job as a professor at a medical school and as a surgeon at a hospital?
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  14. drpossible

    drpossible Member

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    This is very interesting. I haven't heard this from many people. The general consensus was that the academics' lives were very similar to those of residents (same long hours, demand and stress).

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