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Am I the only one that wants to pursue primary care?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by KnuxNole, May 7, 2008.

  1. KnuxNole

    KnuxNole Sweets Addict 10+ Year Member

    May 3, 2006
    It seems that everyone and their dog shuns the idea of becoming a primary care doctor. Especially those canines with their 4.0 and 43 MCAT scores :laugh: But seriously...

    Although I am aware that my career choice might change once i hit the clinical years of medical school, I do have an idea of what I would like to become. Personally, the professions I am most interested in are peds(i enjoy working with kids), internal medicine(i like the puzzling nature) and emergency. Correct me if EM is not primary care. I know that the pay is not as high as other specialities, but these are what I feel will make me the most happy.
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  3. Dendrite

    Dendrite 2+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    EM is typically not considered primary care.

    I don't think it's weird to want to go into primary care before beginning medical school. If anything, that is what our country needs right now.
  4. thoffen

    thoffen Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    You're not the only one. I would be glad to if the system were better than it is. Right now, primary care docs are being underpaid and are forced to make comprimises in the quality of care they can provide to earn that pay.
  5. Isoprop

    Isoprop Fascinating, tell me more 5+ Year Member

    Oct 15, 2007
    primary care = general IM, general peds, FM, & arguable ob/gyn.
  6. Alfalfa Bill

    Alfalfa Bill 5+ Year Member

    You are certainly not the only one who wants to go into primary care. I have always loved internal medicine. It gives you a great opportunity to know and treat patients in a very direct way. The compensation is a huge issue though. Until they start making the pay more attractive to med school grads, they will continue to shy away from primary care, which is arguably the most important specialty. :D
  7. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna 7+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    is preventive medicine considered primary care??? i'm interested in that and it sure isnt the glamorous pay of an orthopedic surgeon.... i think i saw a salary range beteween 84,000 and 200,000.
  8. GAdoc

    GAdoc GAdoc 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2005
    Yeah, this is key. I don't think med students/premeds avoid primary care on principle, its just that as a career it doesn't fit most people's desired lifestyle. Used to, anyone wanting to become any type of doctor knew they were in for a career where family and personal life was second to medicine. With managed care and many of the sub-specialties it is possible for a physician to enjoy his/her life. The trade-off, however, comes in declining compensation.

    Don't get me wrong, primary care docs can still make an excellent living (I've heard of some small town family docs pulling in up to 700k per year) but it will be at the expense of never having a vacation, being on call all the time, and probably being divorced!

    The bottom line is, when you hit year three of med school, several stark realities hit home: 1. In two years, you've probably accumulated close to $150,000 dollars of debt with interest that will continue to accrue for the last two years 2. If your step 1 scores are good enough, why not try for a residency that will allow you to pay off your debt quickly while also allowing you to have a life?

    I think that's why schools like mine (Mercer School of Medicine) who have mission statements geared towards primary care are scratching their heads over so many students going into radiology, ophthalmology, ENT, etc. Georgia desperately needs primary care docs, but until the state figures out how to their money where their mouth is, noone is going to go into those fields.
  9. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy 2+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2007
    Im looking at FP or EM right now...I like how they know a little about everything, and It hink it fits my personality well.

    You guys should read the SDN cover story now...It talks a little about the lack of PC physicians and what the outlook is in the future.
  10. onemoreyear

    onemoreyear 7+ Year Member

    Aug 14, 2007
    I'm with you...
  11. TexPre-Med

    TexPre-Med Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

    Aug 5, 2003
    I just depends on location and how business oriented you are. If you pick a really small city (don't have many patients) or work few hours then you may not top $100,000. I know 3 FM docs in Lubbock, TX however that each top $300,000. One is nearing $350,000. They average 48 hours/week with 0 call. Not too shabby. Downside - they live in Lubbock, TX.

    You can make good money in any field of medicine if you have good business sense.
  12. 8744

    8744 Guest

    Dec 7, 2001
    Whoa. Emergency Medicine is a high-paying specialty. A typical salary is in the $230,000 range which is pretty good and generally involves about 140 hours per month.

    And EM is not primary care.
  13. mdgator

    mdgator 2+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    There's nothing wrong with wanting to go into FM/Peds, etc. That's what our country needs most right now. And who knows, maybe there will be some reforms and/or programs designed to increase incentives (i.e., pay) for people to go into primary care, with the aging of the baby boomers. There are already many great loan repayment programs out there right now. There's a guy from my (rural) hometown who graduates med school in a couple of months. He's already signed a contract with a local hospital to return and work for 3 years. In turn, they will fully repay his loans and pay him ~$150K on top of it. After three years he's free to go wherever he wants. He'll be debt free and making decent money by age 30. He may never be "rich", but he'll do pretty well for himself, especially in an area with a low cost of living.

    IMO, the biggest negative of primary care is not the pay as much as the necessity of having to see a thousand patients a day to make that pay.

  14. That's the key right there. Obviously you know you won't be paid as well, but yet you still have a strong desire to do PC and feel it would make you happy. Do what makes you happy! You're going to be doing this job for the next 30-40 years of your life!
  15. mdgator

    mdgator 2+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2008
  16. KnuxNole

    KnuxNole Sweets Addict 10+ Year Member

    May 3, 2006
    I went there for undergrad, and was interviewed there but from the looks of it, I am probably not getting in. Sucks though considering it was my first choice...
  17. mdgator

    mdgator 2+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    Well, hang in there...I know of at least one fellow SDNer who was accepted within the last week. You never know.
  18. TupacalipseT96

    TupacalipseT96 R U Still Down? 7+ Year Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Another benefit to FP is that it gives you tons of career flexibility. My old step dad was a typical primary care doctor working in a private office for awhile...then decided he wanted to change things up, so he studied and took some test and now he works solely at some large drug and addiction rehabilitation center in SF and loves it. Entirely different. If he gets bored again, he can take another test and do something else a little different. Once you specialize you lock yourself into a tighter realm of career possibilities.

    Though, I personally will still specialize :).
  19. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    No. It is a specialty most frequently affiliated with public health.
  20. bozz

    bozz 2+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    "Primary care" used to confuse me all the time... probably due to U.S rankings lol

    They have Research Rankings and Primary Care rankings. I always thought primary care just meant the non-research component of a physician's life, basically what you think a doctor does.
  21. iA-MD2013

    iA-MD2013 Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    so did i!
  22. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    The primary care rankings are basically just another set of parameters with which one might rank schools; they tell you little of the quality of the schools programs in primary care, and really focus on the number of people from such schools that go into primary care. As such, then tend to really tell you more that these are schools that pump fewer people into the specialties. So they tend not to be used in pre-allo. Primary care, as mentioned above, is FM, IM, Peds, and OBGYN. They tend to be very clinically based fields. Many people enjoy these fields for a whole variety of reasons and there is nothing wrong with having an interest in one. They get a bad rap on boards like this because folks have been competing for grades and stats throughout college on their road to med school, and so to suddenly admit interest in a lesser competitive end point runs against the grain. That and the fact that these specialties tend to be among the lower paid, and not usually affording lifestyle field hours. But it's probably good to go into med school having some interest in these. Because most med school grads won't end up getting into the competitive specialties anyhow.
  23. hippiedoc13

    hippiedoc13 2+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2007
    Ummm, no. Highly unlikely. He has to complete residency first, before he can get hired at a hospital as an attending. Even if he went straight thru college and med school, that would make him about 26 now, and 29 at the end of a three-year residency.

    And then he can do his sweet loan-repayment gig. Still, having your debt repaid by age 33 or so is awesome.

    Just didn't want anyone to get the mistaken impression that you can get a job straight out of med school. Well, actually, you can...but it's called residency, and it's really more like indentured servitude. ;)
  24. Legato

    Legato 2+ Year Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    Honestly, I'd rather do primary care, but what I hear is that you get incredibly overworked and underpaid if you do it. My primary care physicians have always looked very stressed out and had little time for me.
  25. mdgator

    mdgator 2+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    I was counting residency. Actually, from a monetary standpoint, assuming he returns to the local hospital, which he told me last week he will, then he will be debt free by thirty. (And by that I mean, all he has to do is show up for work for three years, and he never has to worry about paying a dime back.) But I know what you're saying and technically you're right...if he defaulted on the deal, he'd have to repay the hospital all the money they've been paying for his education for the past four years, plus some interest, so technically he will still have debt. I ammend my previous statement to "He'll be making good money by age thirty, and he'll never have to pay a dime of his education debt."
  26. Asp

    Asp 5+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2007
    Katy Perry's basement

    Poor Law2Doc, repeating himself again and again for the benefit of the ignorant masses.
  27. UVAbme2009

    UVAbme2009 5+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    I'm becoming more interested in pediatrics. But I'm not sure if I'd rather go into a specialty within pediatrics or not.
  28. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me 7+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Tally/Willkillya County
    Recently it has kind of been moved over to the primary care position, especially since more and more patients don't have a pcp and just go to the ER.

    There is nothing wrong with it. I know a ton of people that went in thinking that is what they want. The bottom line is that none of us know what we will like until we experience for real, rather than just following them around. I do know my tendency to not care too much about long term continuity of care, my love of technology and my love of working with my hands. So, many of the traditional primary care fields haven't really interested me that much. I just don't like talking to people all day like that. I know plenty of people that'd love to B.S. with patients and manage how they do through a large timespan.

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