Surgeon,or a career in technology?


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    11
Jul 19, 2015
28
2
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Pre-Medical
Becoming a surgeon is the only thing I've ever been this passionate about, especially for this long. And willing to put forth this much effort. But I get stuck thinking about how it will impact the life me and my fiancé want. What about when I have kids, what about the debt, what about the surgeon I wanted to be.

I wanted to do cardiothoracic which takes up a lot of time because of the specialty. And I honestly don't mind always being at the hospital. But what I'm truly stuck on is, either way I lose. If I pursue this, I know I'll be so invested in it and I will put it first and unfortunately, my family second, as a result I could lose my husband or have a not so good family bond.

But if I don't pursue this I'll have the family I want, more time for them, more leisure, but I'll be doing a job I don't have much passion for.

I'm just looking for any advice, harsh, kind, anything. Just something to help me with this choice.
 

StudyLater

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Jan 4, 2015
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I'm sure there's a few schools of thought. Many on here, i.e. students, residents and attendings, have discussed this. I've never seen specifically a cardiothoracic discuss it, but nevertheless, such individuals on here have claimed it is in fact manageable. But I suppose it all depends on what you hope to accomplish. If you go down this path, it's probably a reasonable assumption that you can't be there for every single baby step and bat of the eyelash. But I'm sure you can be present. And whether or not you make your presence meaningful to your family, I assume, is partially up to you and partially up to your circumstances. Unfortunately, in this thing, I assume the latter is difficult to control, and can create some unfortunately warped productions of one's normal self.
 
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Sep 6, 2015
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ALABAMA YALL
I don't know if this will help but My two cents is for me personally, I've wanted to be a surgeon far longer than I've known my fiancé. I made it clear to her from the beginning what to expect during medical school and residency. For me nothing would hold me back from doing what I want.
 
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May 4, 2015
916
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Becoming a surgeon is the only thing I've ever been this passionate about, especially for this long. And willing to put forth this much effort. But I get stuck thinking about how it will impact the life me and my fiancé want. What about when I have kids, what about the debt, what about the surgeon I wanted to be.

I wanted to do cardiothoracic which takes up a lot of time because of the specialty. And I honestly don't mind always being at the hospital. But what I'm truly stuck on is, either way I lose. If I pursue this, I know I'll be so invested in it and I will put it first and unfortunately, my family second, as a result I could lose my husband or have a not so good family bond.

But if I don't pursue this I'll have the family I want, more time for them, more leisure, but I'll be doing a job I don't have much passion for.

I'm just looking for any advice, harsh, kind, anything. Just something to help me with this choice.
you have one life. If you think the regret of not being a cardiothoracic surgeon outweighs the regret of not having to see your kids grow up and possibly a broken marriage, then do what you love. A better way is to find a career that is equally complex and allows you the self-esteem you seek while maintaining hours that are more manageable. However, remember that your hours of operation in any specialty cannot be predicted. Even as a family medicine physician, you may have to have work countless hours.
 
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Turkishking

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Jul 15, 2015
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Becoming a surgeon is the only thing I've ever been this passionate about, especially for this long. And willing to put forth this much effort. But I get stuck thinking about how it will impact the life me and my fiancé want. What about when I have kids, what about the debt, what about the surgeon I wanted to be.

I wanted to do cardiothoracic which takes up a lot of time because of the specialty. And I honestly don't mind always being at the hospital. But what I'm truly stuck on is, either way I lose. If I pursue this, I know I'll be so invested in it and I will put it first and unfortunately, my family second, as a result I could lose my husband or have a not so good family bond.

But if I don't pursue this I'll have the family I want, more time for them, more leisure, but I'll be doing a job I don't have much passion for.

I'm just looking for any advice, harsh, kind, anything. Just something to help me with this choice.

Like similar posts above, focus on getting into medical school first. Take things in strides, because this isn't a race.. it's a marathon. Damn that sounds cheesy but it's true.
 
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DocMcMommy

5+ Year Member
Feb 25, 2014
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I go through these feelings often. Just yesterday I was terribly sad on my way home in the evening. I go to school full time. My daughter spends an hour in the car rearfacing away from me and crying, then she is day care from 7:30 until ~4, we spend another hour going home, when we get home she only gets about an hour or two of my time before it's time for bed. On the weekends I volunteer and you know what? I'm currently looking for a babysitter one night a week so that I can participate in another volunteer program I really want to do.

I love my daughter so much. She's like this beautiful, perfect little person. And sometimes I feel real low because I HAVE the opportunity to stay home with her, I have the option to choose an easier, less risky career path.

But man, I think I would be such an unpleasant mother to be around if I sacrificed all of my dreams to stay home. I grew up in a house where no one had a college education, something like a teller position at a bank making $1 more than minimum was thought of like a gold mine, and my mother and family are miserable, bitter, lonely people.

I want my daughter to know that she can have a family AND go after he wildest goals/dreams. And being so busy makes the time we do have together so awesome. Also, I'm working toward something I'm passionate about and that makes me a happier, pleasant person to be around. So, maybe I'm an awful mother for choosing to be so busy or maybe it'll work out. I guess we'll see. But I just don't think I would ever feel like I had lived and fulfilled my life if I didn't at least try and make this happen. And I know that I'm giving it my all, because if I'm giving up time with my favorite little person in the world, I'm not going to squander it and half ass things (...I say as I'm hanging out on sdn...)

Anyway, sorry for rambling...
 

gonnif

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Becoming a surgeon is the only thing I've ever been this passionate about, especially for this long. And willing to put forth this much effort. But I get stuck thinking about how it will impact the life me and my fiancé want. What about when I have kids, what about the debt, what about the surgeon I wanted to be.

I wanted to do cardiothoracic which takes up a lot of time because of the specialty. And I honestly don't mind always being at the hospital. But what I'm truly stuck on is, either way I lose. If I pursue this, I know I'll be so invested in it and I will put it first and unfortunately, my family second, as a result I could lose my husband or have a not so good family bond.

But if I don't pursue this I'll have the family I want, more time for them, more leisure, but I'll be doing a job I don't have much passion for.

I'm just looking for any advice, harsh, kind, anything. Just something to help me with this choice.
The other issue I remind applicants of all the time, especially those who profess a strong desire to be only in a certain sub-specialty to the exclusion of any other, that you may very well not get it. You may go to medical school for 4 years and have no opportunity to be in the sub-specialty. What will do? Are you still committed to medical school with that reality? How about the reality that you may get a residency across the country in a city/town that neither you or your family want? And the more specialized you become, the less openings their are for a position.

For example, the founder of OldPreMeds, between premed, medical school, clinical rotations, residency, fellowship, several attending positions, has had some 12 interstate moves within 20 years. While his family has moved back to their small southern home city (where both his and his wife's elderly parents are) while he has found a great directorship of a large ICU in upstate NY. With only basically 2 medical groups in his home town in his area, he has to wait until someone retires or dies to get a spot. So every 2 weeks he is on 3 flights to get home. These kinds of family/work balances come up in medicine all the time. It is a consideration for what you may want to practice.
 
OP
C
Jul 19, 2015
28
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Cardiothk
The other issue I remind applicants of all the time, especially those who profess a strong desire to be only in a certain sub-specialty to the exclusion of any other, that you may very well not get it. You may go to medical school for 4 years and have no opportunity to be in the sub-specialty. What will do? Are you still committed to medical school with that reality? How about the reality that you may get a residency across the country in a city/town that neither you or your family want? And the more specialized you become, the less openings their are for a position.

For example, the founder of OldPreMeds, between premed, medical school, clinical rotations, residency, fellowship, several attending positions, has had some 12 interstate moves within 20 years. While his family has moved back to their small southern home city (where both his and his wife's elderly parents are) while he has found a great directorship of a large ICU in upstate NY. With only basically 2 medical groups in his home town in his area, he has to wait until someone retires or dies to get a spot. So every 2 weeks he is on 3 flights to get home. These kinds of family/work balances come up in medicine all the time. It is a consideration for what you may want to practice.
CardioThoracic is just a certain love of mine. But I always tell myself what if I find a different part of surgery that I end up liking better. But this true. And I've thought about the fact that what if I have to move my family around a lot. My fiancé has told me numerous times that he is not leaving me because I'm pursuing my dream career. He says he understands the long hours and the fact that there may be nights where I don't even get to come home. But he's going to stick through all of it because "what kind of a man and husband would he be if he hadn't?" But I'm just scared that's all. I don't wanna lose all that I love, because I'm too invested in another thing that I love.
 
OP
C
Jul 19, 2015
28
2
Status
Pre-Medical
I go through these feelings often. Just yesterday I was terribly sad on my way home in the evening. I go to school full time. My daughter spends an hour in the car rearfacing away from me and crying, then she is day care from 7:30 until ~4, we spend another hour going home, when we get home she only gets about an hour or two of my time before it's time for bed. On the weekends I volunteer and you know what? I'm currently looking for a babysitter one night a week so that I can participate in another volunteer program I really want to do.

I love my daughter so much. She's like this beautiful, perfect little person. And sometimes I feel real low because I HAVE the opportunity to stay home with her, I have the option to choose an easier, less risky career path.

But man, I think I would be such an unpleasant mother to be around if I sacrificed all of my dreams to stay home. I grew up in a house where no one had a college education, something like a teller position at a bank making $1 more than minimum was thought of like a gold mine, and my mother and family are miserable, bitter, lonely people.

I want my daughter to know that she can have a family AND go after he wildest goals/dreams. And being so busy makes the time we do have together so awesome. Also, I'm working toward something I'm passionate about and that makes me a happier, pleasant person to be around. So, maybe I'm an awful mother for choosing to be so busy or maybe it'll work out. I guess we'll see. But I just don't think I would ever feel like I had lived and fulfilled my life if I didn't at least try and make this happen. And I know that I'm giving it my all, because if I'm giving up time with my favorite little person in the world, I'm not going to squander it and half ass things (...I say as I'm hanging out on sdn...)

Anyway, sorry for rambling...
Completely understandable. And not at all rambling! But I hope your daughter can grow up to understand it the way you'd like for her too. Are you doing this on your own too? No boyfriend, husband or anything? Cause if you are gosh I admire you. My fear is doing is on my own. Especially if I have children. Or a child. By the way can I ask what you want to be specifically? And you're in medical school right?
 

DocMcMommy

5+ Year Member
Feb 25, 2014
139
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I have a husband, but he's active duty navy and off doing his thing right now.

Not in medical school. I'm a junior in undergrad.

I'm intrigued by the idea of surgery, but I'm not going to say I want to be xyz until I have a better idea of what the options are and what everything really is. I've heard that your opinions can change drastically once you get to the later hears of med school and start actively experiencing everything.
 

DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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Ok, at the risk of starting another thread war, here's my blunt two cents: Unless you clone yourself, you will never be the type of wife and mother you want to be if you're a surgeon. I can already tell you're a type A personality, (surgeons tend to be) and you're looking at this now and your status says you're just pre-med.

I love kids, simply adore them in a non-Jared type way, and used to think I wanted to be a stay-at-home 1950s type housewife and mother. But my IUD is never ever coming out because I realized my career and my dreams come first. I would hate myself if I put my family last, if I couldn't excel in all three careers (wife, mother, doctor), or if I sacrificed my dreams to become a breeder.

That being said, I'm considering Family Medicine or Peds to get my kid fix. But again, like you, I'm just pre-med. I might decide to be a surgeon, rofl. (As if.)

First things first. Get into med school. Find out what specialty you love then. From your poll it looks like it's either a career in surgery OR not pursuing medicine at all. Hmmm...*scratches head*

Regardless of your career choice, if kids come then you'll do what you have to do that will make you the happiest and that you can live with. No one can tell you what's best for you, this is your life.
 
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Halcyon32

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Aug 30, 2015
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@CardioThora I think looking at the situation like "I can either be a good mother and wife and have a miserable working life or be a great, fulfilled surgeon and have a broken marriage and children that hate me" is unfair. I'm not saying you necessarily think that way but it's not all that black and white. You can still pursue your career dreams while maintaining a fulfilling family life but undoubtedly one is going to see the majority of your time (probably surgery if you choose that route). The most important factor is whether your fiance is comfortable with your career choice and if he understands what it entails or not. Make sure you vocalize these issues with him but of course give it a little time as you do still have a really long way to go and countless things may change making even this topic insignificant. I say all this from experience as the child of a father who pursued surgery and everything turned out alright in my family because my mom knew she wouldn't be seeing my father as frequently as one would like and she was ok with that because she loved my dad and was completely supportive of him pursuing what he wanted. Make sure your relationship is similar if the time comes where such a relationship is necessary. Hope I helped! :)
 
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gonnif

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CardioThoracic is just a certain love of mine. But I always tell myself what if I find a different part of surgery that I end up liking better. But this true. And I've thought about the fact that what if I have to move my family around a lot. My fiancé has told me numerous times that he is not leaving me because I'm pursuing my dream career. He says he understands the long hours and the fact that there may be nights where I don't even get to come home. But he's going to stick through all of it because "what kind of a man and husband would he be if he hadn't?" But I'm just scared that's all. I don't wanna lose all that I love, because I'm too invested in another thing that I love.
A phrase I use all the time with applicants: You can have anything you want; you cant have everything you want
 

mimelim

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#1 You have no idea what the lifestyle of a cardiothoracic surgeon is like.
Unless you tell me that one of your parents is a CT surgeon or you've already gone through medical school and seen it, you simply don't. The hours are long and unlike some other specialties, your time is not your own. Yes, when you are not on call, people won't bug you, but life in the CT world is relatively unpredictable. The patients tend to be sicker and their problems tend to be big and more complex than other specialties. Is it impossible to have a family? No. Is it hard? Yes. I have seen CT surgeons walking around with their kids in the hospital because if they didn't, they wouldn't see them awake for a week (and their spouse wanted a break from child care). I've seen a female CT surgeon do rounds with a baby strapped to her chest. Is she crazy? Jury is still out. Is that normal? No. But, that is the spectrum and what some feel is necessary to 'do everything'.

If you are a traditional applicant with zero time off, you will be somewhere between 32 and 34 when you graduate from residency. If you take gap years or research years, you are talking about mid-late thirties before you finish. Most of your colleagues will have started families by then. I know, because I'm in the middle of my vascular training and it is happening all around me. Every single female surgical resident that I know that had children either changed specialties or took research years. Many because they had to because ACGME rules only let you miss certain amounts of time, most because they want to be at home (understandably). In residency, you have minimal control of your schedule. And with surgical residency, your commitment to work/hospital/studying is 80-100 hours/week. Some would say that that is incompatible with being a good parent. Others would say, doable, but you pretty much will not have time for anything else, and you will barely sleep.


#2 You have no idea what the job of being a cardiothoracic surgeon is.
I'm sorry, but even if you say, "I have shadowed CT surgeons for 500 hours." or even, "I'm a scrub tech and have been in CT surgery for 3 years". You don't. This is why trying to pick a specialty as a pre-med is so dangerous. The first step is to figure out if you want to be a physician. The second step is to get into medical school. I'm sitting in an office right now with 6 CT surgeons (Vascular is on the otherside of the hall), I love CV surgery and have signed up for 7 years of training in it. CT surgery is not the same field that it was 10 years ago and won't be the same 10 years from now. To say, "Passion with CT surgery vs. less-passion with anything else." means that you don't know what else is out there and really haven't explored much else. To be honest, if you are thinking, "I'm going to medical school to become a CT surgeon." You need to take a step back and reconsider medical school in its entirety. That doesn't mean don't apply. That means you need to actually learn a lot more about this process and what else is out there.
 
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Jul 19, 2015
28
2
Status
Pre-Medical
#1 You have no idea what the lifestyle of a cardiothoracic surgeon is like.
Unless you tell me that one of your parents is a CT surgeon or you've already gone through medical school and seen it, you simply don't. The hours are long and unlike some other specialties, your time is not your own. Yes, when you are not on call, people won't bug you, but life in the CT world is relatively unpredictable. The patients tend to be sicker and their problems tend to be big and more complex than other specialties. Is it impossible to have a family? No. Is it hard? Yes. I have seen CT surgeons walking around with their kids in the hospital because if they didn't, they wouldn't see them awake for a week (and their spouse wanted a break from child care). I've seen a female CT surgeon do rounds with a baby strapped to her chest. Is she crazy? Jury is still out. Is that normal? No. But, that is the spectrum and what some feel is necessary to 'do everything'.

If you are a traditional applicant with zero time off, you will be somewhere between 32 and 34 when you graduate from residency. If you take gap years or research years, you are talking about mid-late thirties before you finish. Most of your colleagues will have started families by then. I know, because I'm in the middle of my vascular training and it is happening all around me. Every single female surgical resident that I know that had children either changed specialties or took research years. Many because they had to because ACGME rules only let you miss certain amounts of time, most because they want to be at home (understandably). In residency, you have minimal control of your schedule. And with surgical residency, your commitment to work/hospital/studying is 80-100 hours/week. Some would say that that is incompatible with being a good parent. Others would say, doable, but you pretty much will not have time for anything else, and you will barely sleep.


#2 You have no idea what the job of being a cardiothoracic surgeon is.
I'm sorry, but even if you say, "I have shadowed CT surgeons for 500 hours." or even, "I'm a scrub tech and have been in CT surgery for 3 years". You don't. This is why trying to pick a specialty as a pre-med is so dangerous. The first step is to figure out if you want to be a physician. The second step is to get into medical school. I'm sitting in an office right now with 6 CT surgeons (Vascular is on the otherside of the hall), I love CV surgery and have signed up for 7 years of training in it. CT surgery is not the same field that it was 10 years ago and won't be the same 10 years from now. To say, "Passion with CT surgery vs. less-passion with anything else." means that you don't know what else is out there and really haven't explored much else. To be honest, if you are thinking, "I'm going to medical school to become a CT surgeon." You need to take a step back and reconsider medical school in its entirety. That doesn't mean don't apply. That means you need to actually learn a lot more about this process and what else is out there.
I kind of realized this. But that's just the answer I use when others ask me what kind of surgeon I'd like to be. However I already know with the experience comes the change. Nothing is set in stone. But thank you so much for this still!
 
OP
C
Jul 19, 2015
28
2
Status
Pre-Medical
@CardioThora I think looking at the situation like "I can either be a good mother and wife and have a miserable working life or be a great, fulfilled surgeon and have a broken marriage and children that hate me" is unfair. I'm not saying you necessarily think that way but it's not all that black and white. You can still pursue your career dreams while maintaining a fulfilling family life but undoubtedly one is going to see the majority of your time (probably surgery if you choose that route). The most important factor is whether your fiance is comfortable with your career choice and if he understands what it entails or not. Make sure you vocalize these issues with him but of course give it a little time as you do still have a really long way to go and countless things may change making even this topic insignificant. I say all this from experience as the child of a father who pursued surgery and everything turned out alright in my family because my mom knew she wouldn't be seeing my father as frequently as one would like and she was ok with that because she loved my dad and was completely supportive of him pursuing what he wanted. Make sure your relationship is similar if the time comes where such a relationship is necessary. Hope I helped! :)
You're right. I'm definitely looking at things as black and white. I give myself anxiety worrying about my future.
 
OP
C
Jul 19, 2015
28
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Ok, at the risk of starting another thread war, here's my blunt two cents: Unless you clone yourself, you will never be the type of wife and mother you want to be if you're a surgeon. I can already tell you're a type A personality, (surgeons tend to be) and you're looking at this now and your status says you're just pre-med.

I love kids, simply adore them in a non-Jared type way, and used to think I wanted to be a stay-at-home 1950s type housewife and mother. But my IUD is never ever coming out because I realized my career and my dreams come first. I would hate myself if I put my family last, if I couldn't excel in all three careers (wife, mother, doctor), or if I sacrificed my dreams to become a breeder.

That being said, I'm considering Family Medicine or Peds to get my kid fix. But again, like you, I'm just pre-med. I might decide to be a surgeon, rofl. (As if.)

First things first. Get into med school. Find out what specialty you love then. From your poll it looks like it's either a career in surgery OR not pursuing medicine at all. Hmmm...*scratches head*

Regardless of your career choice, if kids come then you'll do what you have to do that will make you the happiest and that you can live with. No one can tell you what's best for you, this is your life.
Can I ask what exactly is a type A? And yes thank you, this helped. Because this is how I feel. But at this point I feel like it's better for me to try, and see where it takes me, than not try at all. And plus, there's also the possibility of not even getting into medical school so the decision could very well be made for me.
 

gonnif

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To add to this thread another consideration to think about.

I met an female orthopedic surgeon last year, who after the years of training, finally had a seemingly good academically related practice in a new area and settled her family and 2 or 3 kids in. After some 5 years the funding for her group was cut, project was over, the position was gone. She couldnt get another clinical position nearby so instead of uprooting her family, she essentially left surgery and now works mostly on committees for professional societies, government, and industry.
 
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LizzyM

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Keep an open mind... CT surgery is changing and more treatments are in the hands of interventional cardiologists and interventional radiologists. You may find that you hate the sound or the smells. As everyone else has said, "Baby steps". First step is med school admission.

Do give some thought about why you are attracted to CT surgery (don't say Christina Yang) and what other careers might be good options for someone with those interests.
 
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moisne

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You'll likely change that specialty after a while but if you don't - then I'm sure you can find a way to make it work.

I thought I wanted to do surgery - but ... lol not anymore.
 
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