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Are you really sure you want to be a physician?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Voxel, Sep 28, 2002.

  1. Voxel

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    It may seem good to you now in the abstract. But it's alot of blood, sweat, tears, urine, feces, people dying, people in pain. Also, let me tell you there are plenty of way to make a decent living. Are you really sure you want to put yourself through this? :) (You'll understand in a few years).
     
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  3. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg 1K Member
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    I contest the decent living remark with this disclaimer: yes, it is possible, but it is riskier. No profession enjoys such general good salary as does the medical field...definitely not law, engineering....Unless, did I overlook something? Btw, as a radiologist, I think you'll be doing wonderfully :D
     
  4. pbehzad

    pbehzad Faddayy
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    I also think the stability and job security of medicine is extremely important. I mean what other job has the security medicine offers, teaching is the only one i can really think of it. unfortunately the average doctors make about 4x the salary a teachers makes.
     
  5. FutureM.D.

    FutureM.D. Psychology major
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    Yeah, but then there's the constant threat of lawsuits. what kind of security is that?:confused:
     
  6. Samoa

    Physician Pharmacist 10+ Year Member

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    Honestly? No I'm not sure. And that's because I'm not dealing with it in the abstract as many others are, I see it up close in my current job. But I think it's the coolest thing on earth to be able to do, and fundamentally worthwhile even if my life will suck for many years as I train. No one in their right mind ENJOYS dealing with blood, guts, feces, death and pain on a daily basis. Nor does anyone enjoy being overworked and underpaid, with little sympathy from anyone, to do the most crucial job in the hospital. I think what people enjoy about it is the ability, through the application fo their knowledge, to make the blood, guts, death and pain go away, or at least to make it better and easier to handle.
     
  7. Dr. Wall$treet

    Dr. Wall$treet Membership Revoked
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    You name it, i have heard from them. Lawyers, surgeons, other docs, accountants, Investmen bankers... EVERYTHING gets boring after awhile in life. Your job is a job after awhlie. Allbeit takes quite awhile in medicine to get boring but bleive me it will. You can only do what you are liking and interested in now. WHo konws where youll be in 3yrs 10 yrs 20 yrs. Live for the now and what is intriguing. If you change your mind, well there is LOTS you can do iwth an MD degree. a J.D would be easy to get.. other grad programs. MBA programs LOVE doctors who want to get into business.. I think it is more the experience of becoming a doctor that is valueable. And if you like it.. that is great, your plan worked. But if you dont, well you are WELL equiped to move on and find a new job or career.
     
  8. Camden772

    Camden772 Senior Member
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    In response to Blitzkreig,

    While it's true that the lowest paid lawyer makes a lot less than the lowest paid doctor, and that there are a ton of lawyers who make $25,000 to $35,000 a year, I believe that everyone on this site would make more money as an attorney than the average physician does.

    Now let me first say that I am a lawyer and I know tons of lawyers, so I know something about the profession. Although there are tons of lawyers who do not make large amounts of money out of law school, people that graduate in the top 25% of their class from one of the top 15 ranked law schools in the country are virtually guaranteed of a six figure salary. The salary will vary depending on the city you go to, but for reference you could expect coming out of law school making $125,000 in Chicago or $140,000 in New York. The average partner at most of these law firms makes over $500,000 a year and I've known partners that make millions every year. And the thing about law is you always have the potential to make more. Medicine, on the other hand, is a field where most people plateau quickly after they begin their practice.

    As most of you know, anybody can become a lawyer. In fact, I know people that had barely over a 2.0 in college that are now practicing attorneys. Many of these people do not go to top law schools nor do they perform extremely well at these schools. Your typical pre-med is a much more motivated individual with about a 3.5 GPA. From what I've seen, the people on this site or particularly motivated people who have been quite academically successful. I think they would have no problem getting into a top law school and performing well. By point of reference, I applied to 20 medical schools in 1994 and I was not accepted to one of them. The next year, I went to one of the top law schools in the country where I wound up performing quite well.

    Even if you do not perform well in law school, you can make a lot of money in law if you are a motivated person. It may take you a little longer, but it is definitely possible. As I just indicated, I don't think anyone on this site is lacking for motivation.

    Having said all this, I would like to stress that you not go into law to make money. If that is your reason, you will be miserable. Just as you would be miserable if you went into medicine to make money. Most attorneys I know went to law school because they did not know what else to do. They hate their jobs.

    As I have posted elsewhere, going to law school was the biggest mistake of my life. A mistake I am trying to make up for now. I know people that feel the same way about medicine. Never go into either one of these fields if your primary motivation is to make a good living and have a respectable job. You will regret it.
     
  9. ItsGavinC

    Dentist Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    Yes, I'm sure I want to be a physician... a dental physician! :) Better hours than my MD counterparts, better pay than my MD counterparts, ahh, what a life.

    Seriously, Camden has some great points, and I appreciated the well-written post. Often times we are narrow-minded as a group. And, contrary to our beliefs, medicine is not the most secure profession. It was at one time, but those days are now 8-15 years behind us.

    Physicians are now just another member of a huge health-care team (which is good or bad, depending on your personal views), and their skills are no longer indespensible. MDs are working longer hours for less pay, simply so they can pay a higher insurance premium.

    Camden's most excellent point was that each of us must pursue a profession which motivates us -- life is too short to simply puruse a title or degree.
     
  10. badassy

    badassy Senior Member
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    I'm sure, the passion to help people runs deep inside of me.
     
  11. PelicanMan

    PelicanMan Senior Member
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    I am saddened by all of these responses.

    Am I the only one who doesn't care how much money I make.

    I really don't give a damn if doctors are overworked and underpaid.

    I am going into medicine because I would love the job of helping people. For me being a doctor is a privelage.

    I am pissed off that so many people here all they talk about is job security and money.

    I hope that there are more idealistic people still around who aren't going in it for the damn money.

    So I don't care if I can make a decent living doing other stuff Voxel. I already know that I could be successful in other jobs. But I have always wanted to be a doctor so that I can have the opportunity to help people.

    I know that some people will say that what I am saying is BS. Well I believe in what I say and I'm not just saying it to make you guys feel bad.
     
  12. FutureM.D.

    FutureM.D. Psychology major
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    Hey you! Relax and breathe. Now, I also think it's absolutely ridiculous when someone wants to go into medicine just for the money, however, I do feel that it's just another benefit. My motivaton for medicine is my knack for dealing with people and my want to help them, but job security definetly is NOT a bad thing.:clap:
     
  13. Bikini Princess

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    i don't know that many students who are idealistic coming in are quite as idealistic after finishing their residency. it's difficult to say how u will feel after spending several years of your life in such an intense field.

    personally i believe that if you approach medicine with a bit more realism, maybe you won't be as dissappointed or frustrated afterwards.
     
  14. Street Philosopher

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    pretty sure i want to be a physician, not so sure about internship and residency. ;)
     
  15. Raptor

    Raptor Found one
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    I want to go into medicine becuase i first and foremost want to help all kinds of people. Secondly, I want to go into medicine becuause of the many challenges that no other field other me. I can't see myself doing something that is repetitive like most other field out there. Medicine provides intellectual pursuits, which makes you a student for life because medicine is always changing. Lastly, (stop with all the denial) i want to go into medicine because it offers great security, money (so my family can live well), and respect from soceity. Now people it is good to be idealistic but the truth is that many would not go into medicine if there weren't to many incentives. It is just plain psychology. :rolleyes:
     
  16. limit

    limit Molesting my inner-child
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    Finally... thank you. Money & prestige is high up top on my list, and I laugh at all you idealists that want to rid the world of suffering. I need something that will continue to challenge me intellectually for as long as I'm in a field, otherwise we stagnate and decay and I'm not looking for that to happen. Medicine is the right choice for me for this, and several other reasons. This is a hard job, and there's no way I'd do it without gracious pecuniary compensation and other intangibles rewards (prestige, whatever else you call it) and the feeling of doing something worthwhile with your life. Parents are also influential, I've listened to their opinions and they are highly encouraging, supportive and cooperative.

    And whoever up above posted:

    "I really don't give a damn if doctors are overworked and underpaid.

    I am going into medicine because I would love the job of helping people."

    Why not try to help the overworked and underpaid doctors ? They look like they need help... how can you help them? By being just another overworked and underpaid statistical extension? For an idealist you sure have your theories mixed up in a bunch.
     
  17. Street Philosopher

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    i look good in a white coat.
    scrubs look comfortable.
     
  18. PelicanMan

    PelicanMan Senior Member
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    LOL limit.

    Well as you said MANY would not go into medicine if there weren't too many incentives.


    Well all I am trying to say is that I would be one of those FEW (apparrently) who would go into medicine even if there weren't too many incentives that you guys talk about.

    Its just a matter of priority thats all.

    If doctors had poor job security and were paid 40,000 dollars a year. I would still do it. But thats just me.

    The other person who said that if I'm more realistic than I will not be as dissappointed. Well all I can say about that is that I would rather be idealistic then cynical.

    I wonder how long this will last.
     
  19. delayofgame

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    ... rather be a rock star, better drugs, more women, no beeper, no license... medical or driver's!! >>> [ 6 or 7 DUI's , outta keep the limo driver busy ] All in all, I guess I better start playin my guitar again or ...wait..." I dont want to work, I just wanna bang on the keyboard all day"!!
     
  20. Sweet Tea

    Sweet Tea Girl Next Door
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    you're not the only one, pelican man. ideally, i'll end up in rural nc as a primary care physician. not much money to be had out there, but it's what i want to do and i'm sure i'll be able to live and provide for my family. i may not have a fancy car, a big house, or lavish vacations, but i think i'll be able to manage. am i an idealist? check my signature.

    ps-- best of luck this year, pelican man!!
     
  21. Ma!

    Ma! Senior Member
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    If you really want to help people and don't care about the money, why not become a teacher? After 10 years experience you can pull down a whopping 30K! And believe me, there are plenty of people needing all kinds of help in America's public school system.

    I don't doubt for a minute the altruistic nature of the posters on this thread, BUT the truth is, in addition to being able to "help people", doctors are also respected and valued in ways that other helping professionals are not.

    I guess the other missing piece I see in the "people helpers" argument is the "I love science and problem solving" component. Shouldn't that be a huge part of the answer when asked "why a doctor?"

    See, 'cuz I love helping people and I love problem solving but I couldn't understand one thing about high school chemistry-and thats why I became......
    a speech pathologist!

    I'm just thinking if I was an interviewer I would want you to dig a little deeper than "I just want to help people" Good luck, sweeties!
     
  22. Sweet Tea

    Sweet Tea Girl Next Door
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    Good points, Ma!, and that's where my alturistic reasons for wanting to become a doctor blend with my more selfish reasons. I have looked into other careers where I would be helping people. Believe me-- my grades were so bad after my first 2 years of college that I had to look at other professions! I love science (especially now that my study skills have markedly improved); I am just so fascinated by how the human body works and how things affect our health and well-being. Although other professions may be able to do more good for more people, they don't fascinate me the way medicine does. Sure it's a selfish reason, but it's no more selfish than the reasons why people enter many other professions. For instance, people don't become anthropologists or marine biologists b/c of the money. They do it b/c they're so interested in the subject that they don't care how much they make. I'm not Mother Theresa, but I know how my skills and interests would best be put to use.

    And Ma!-- I just wanted to say thanks for being a supportive parent. Not every applicant is lucky enough to have such a great cheering section. :)
     
  23. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    Haven't we all heard this before about 100 times..

    I swear the people who make these threads are those people who never had any type of full-time long term job with maybe the exception of volunteering here and there.. then all of a sudden they get thrown into the daily grind..

    suck it up. like they were saying, a job is a job.
     
  24. Finn

    Finn Member
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    I want to be a physician because that is the most noble, challenging, rewarding and prestigious occupation on the face of the earth. I also want enough money to support my family. Is that so bad??

    I consider myself an idealist as well but I am also a husband and father. I want the best for my family. I want security for them and myself in the future.

    Those who say money doesn't matter simply lack a firm grip on reality. Someday you may realize that it does matter. If all that you want is to help people be a nurse, a PT, an OT, a CNA, a massage therapist.
     
  25. Camden772

    Camden772 Senior Member
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    I don't disagree that there are many people who are not prepared for full-time work of any kind when they get out of school, but I don't think you can compare someone's first year in residency to any other full-time jobs. I have many close friends who are currently residents or who have just finished their residencies. Most likely, it is more grueling than any job you will ever have. Unless you have had a job where you spend months working over 100 hours per week, I don't think you can ever truly comprehend how taxing it is. I truly believe that posts like Voxel's are meant to help us pre-meds. Most of my friends who are or were residents go out of their way to make sure that I know what to expect, because they were unprepared for how grueling it would be. A common contention is that "you will be broken, at least once." By this they mean that there will be times when you stop caring anymore. You just want sleep, you want a break, you want a patient who is not intoxicated and yelling at you after you have been working for 30 hours straight. I'm not saying that everyone at this site will feel the same way, but it is such a common statement among residents I think you have to be ready for such experiences.

    My main point is: I wouldn't want to assume that based on Voxel's comments, he has never had a full-time job. Residency cannot be compared to any other full-time job I can think of. I am in a job where I commonly work 80 hours a week, and I expect residency to be much more grueling.
     
  26. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    well i suppose i was trying to fit him into a neat little box, but i guess I partially am getting tired of listening to all the negativity coming from residents to pre-meds.

    I mean I heard this kind of negativity when i was a kid from my parents (i.e. just wait till you get in the real world.. you have no idea of how hard it is)

    Then in junior high they would say how hard it was when you got into high school.

    Then in high school, it was said of college.

    Then in college they talked about the problems of finding a job once you graduate.

    Negativity is all around. I prefer to kick my head, not being nieve, but taking things one step and a time.
     
  27. DarkChild

    DarkChild Senior Member
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    i think there is something to be said for both Agent's and the original posters comments....
    I definately agree that residency will be gruelling.
    like any other job I am sure that there are times when you hate it with a passion.
    at the same time I really believe Agent has a very good point: too many pre-meds are naive about how much working sucks.
    I cant stress this enough - it really SUCKS!!!
    and as to the comments about working 80 hour weeks...
    yes - I've done that.
    I'm doing that now as an i-banker.
    true it sucks, but you learn a lot and you get to do some pretty cool $hit.
    my perspective is this:
    1) at some point everyone has to grow up and pay their dues. it sucks, but a fact of being successful is simply busting your balls. a lot of it is tedium and b!tch work. but you get it done.
    2) and this has been the most important lesson: other people have done it - and so can/will you. suck it up.
    3) ultimately though, it better be something that you believe in. being an i-banker isnt worth spending my life doing - I want to do something with my life that means something in the big picture.
    so my $0.02 which is probably worth $0.002 is you might as well do something that you believe in because to be sucessful any where - law, business, academia - you will be busting your butt pulling 90 hour weeks. if you think about it, thats that only way... if it were easy to be sucessful, then everybody would be doing it.
     
  28. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    DarkChild I totally agree with you, but see we come from different life circumstances than a lot of traditonal college students who most likely haven't really had to do a job they don't feel passionately about every day in and out.

    Yeah i know a lot about paying dues and taking crap. As it is now I'm away from my family about 80 hours a week (at least!) and I'm sure I can handle residency.

    I'm sure there will be times when i go lock myself in the bathroom for about 5-10 minutes and have a mini-breakdown, tears and all, but you know if you never cry about something, then you cant say a lot about what it means to you.
     
  29. rose13

    rose13 Member
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    As a former teacher, I can assure you that teachers also have to worry about getting sued.
     
  30. the*mess

    the*mess Junior Member
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    Everybody gets sued these days. I've been deposed twice (and named in a suit once) for actions taken by company staff not under my supervison. Why was I sued? Because I was there... it's just the litigous nature of our society. The tactic is to sue everybody and let the judge sort out who is really a defendant. Fortunately, I was indemnified by my employer against legal expenses incurred by defending myself in an action resulting from work (translation: the boss paid for me to get dismissed from the suit, but I still had to take part in the depositions).

    Doctors get the most press due to the headline value of lawsuits ("child dies, doctor allegedly at fault" will lead a newscast, but "check bounces, banker allegedly at fault" doesn't make the cut), but are also one of the main driving forces behind tort reform legislation.

    As potential physicians, we would be ignorant not to acknowledge the $$$/prestige issues and factor them into our decision process. But if those are the only or most significant factors, I think you'll end up being (at best) a mediocre doctor and a miserable human being.

    Hell, if it really is all about the benjamins & lifestyle, i'd be a lot better off staying where I am. I'm going after this because my self worth doesn't have anything to do with my net worth.
     
  31. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    Yeah I was on track at a good company to get an MBA. I could make just as much money but i dont want to just be a slave to big business my entire life.(even though there are some elements of that in everything)
     
  32. Whisker Barrel Cortex

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    agent,

    We kinda got off on the wrong foot on that other thread. My response on that thread is intended to make sure that premeds know what is ahead of them. Many really don't realize what they are in for. I expected this and it still drains me. Many of the people I knew in med school really didn't know how bad residency can be (med school itself is a cake walk in comparison) and some regret ever starting on this course.

    I have worked full time while taking 16 units in college and was tired, but did not feel as mentally and physically drained as I feel now. There is a certain level of mental stress and frustration that comes with basically being in charge of the lives of people while having so much work to do you really can't keep up. Yes, there is a lot of help from upper level residents and attending physicians, but the stress is still on your shoulders much of the time.

    All of that being said I am still happy with the choices I've made and wouldn't have done it differently. Since I know people who would have done something else if they knew, I feel it is my responsibility to let you guys know what you are in for.
     
  33. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    Well I graciously accept your honesty.

    I'm glad that there are people to give me a foretaste of what is to come.

    There are days when I think about how it will be, and I do imagine the worst possible, and I don't want to do it.

    But then I also imagine the alternative. Struggling to support my family for the rest of my life, and my kids having the same difficulties that I had growing up and into my college years. I know it will be hard but not as hard as it would be for myself to accept the alternative.

    I can do this.
     
  34. PelicanMan

    PelicanMan Senior Member
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    Great comments people.

    I am happy that this discussion is going on and I see that my response was not complete. I was angry and that is why i kinda ranted.

    Of course I could help people by being a teacher. But like others have said, I love science and the challenge of being a physician. I love the problem-solving aspect.

    Keep this going.
     
  35. DarkChild

    DarkChild Senior Member
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    honestly I am not sure I want to become a physician.
    I am not all over working with people... sure I could see that is rewarding and all - but I'm not someone who jumps out of bed and goes - yay I get to work with people today.
    if anything its sort of a non-issue.
    but worse than that - sick people, like really really sick people make me nervous and in a way scare me.
    I guess a large part of that is that I feel really bad for them.
    to be honest my reasons for becoming a doctor - in spite of my inhibitions is that:
    a) I dislike that doctors know more about my body than I do. to me medicine is a means of self-empowerment.
    b) I really like science but feel it is useless if it isnt applied to somehow make things better.
    c) I cant bear to see the people around me start to get sick and not have any answers. my real beef with physicians in general is that they dont spend enough time explaining to patients what is happening to them. that feeling of helplessness while the good doctor deigns to enlighten us - nah that's not going for me - or my family members. or my friends.
     
  36. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    i totally agree with that. I feel overtime my fears or anxiety about patients will go away.
     
  37. dpark74

    dpark74 Senior Member
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    I'm with you. I could care less about the money...Heck, I envision myself doing medical missions to countries in dire need of health care. My church has a medical missions team that caters to the people of Nicaragua and North Korea, and I plan to be a part of that.

    Late
     

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