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Bitter MDs discouraging career-changers?

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    I'm currently a senior art history major at a northeastern liberal arts college, and a couple of months ago I decided to seriously look into finishing my prereqs & applying to med school. I recently wrote to an alum of my school, a dermatologist who has been practicing for 20+ years, to ask if I could pick his brain about his profession.

    To make a long story short, during the 45-minute conversation I just had with him, he basically did everything he could to discourage me from pursuing a medical career. He said that if he could do things all over again, he would probably have gotten an MBA instead, and that he has discouraged both of his children from going pre-med. When he asked me my reasons for wanting to become a doctor, he said that I should just get a science PhD instead, and that unless I said I wanted to deliver babies in a low-income area or be a faculty member in a med school, I would probably be better served elsewhere.

    I know I still have a lot of research to do and more people to talk to before I really commit to this, but this was really discouraging. Has anyone else encountered docs that have vehemently advised prospective applicants to -not- pursue medicine? I'm not letting this one doc's opinion stop me from pursuing my dreams...I guess I just wanted to vent, and to see if anyone else has been told similar things. :rolleyes:
     

    Sainttpk

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      I'm currently a senior art history major at a northeastern liberal arts college, and a couple of months ago I decided to seriously look into finishing my prereqs & applying to med school. I recently wrote to an alum of my school, a dermatologist who has been practicing for 20+ years, to ask if I could pick his brain about his profession.

      To make a long story short, during the 45-minute conversation I just had with him, he basically did everything he could to discourage me from pursuing a medical career. He said that if he could do things all over again, he would probably have gotten an MBA instead, and that he has discouraged both of his children from going pre-med. When he asked me my reasons for wanting to become a doctor, he said that I should just get a science PhD instead, and that unless I said I wanted to deliver babies in a low-income area or be a faculty member in a med school, I would probably be better served elsewhere.

      I know I still have a lot of research to do and more people to talk to before I really commit to this, but this was really discouraging. Has anyone else encountered docs that have vehemently advised prospective applicants to -not- pursue medicine? I'm not letting this one doc's opinion stop me from pursuing my dreams...I guess I just wanted to vent, and to see if anyone else has been told similar things. :rolleyes:


      Just be thankful that he gave you his honest assessment of his profession. I think you need to hear negative opinions sometimes in order to come to a conclusion of whether you want to do something.
       

      non sono qui

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        Just be thankful that he gave you his honest assessment of his profession. I think you need to hear negative opinions sometimes in order to come to a conclusion of whether you want to do something.

        You're right, I'm glad he didn't sugarcoat things for me. It does give me a better idea of what I would be getting myself into, which is the reason I contacted him in the first place. Still, part of me wishes I had heard him say one good thing about being a doc!
         
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          I have gotten both sides of the coin. Case in point -- I emailed a good family friend a year ago to ask if I could shadow him for a bit. He is a head of neonatology at a very prestigious hospital in a major city, so he has a wealth of exposure to the field. His response was surprising: he has two sons, and he put my choice to me like this: his older son is a stock broker, doing incredibly well. His youngest son has decided to be pre-med, and is finishing up a post-bac. He told me that his older son will be able to retire by the time that his youngest son even gets to finish med school (they are only 2 years apart). He gave me the same warning that every doctor gives: "Its a LONG road."

          I also asked a family friend who started med school at a later age (post 30s), and she said that it is really "not that big of a deal," and that she absolutely loves her career choice.

          So I say take the negative in perspective -- if the doctor is burnt out, in the wrong specialty, etc, then you may recieve more negative than positive. But I also know some very successful Wall Street guys who are miserable as well. Go for what you want -- an MD can always be leveraged into a successful business career.
           

          arcin

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            The doctor I am shadowing basically said this "I would never encourage someone to pursue a job in medicine." But if someone really wants to I won't tell them not to. They all seem to agree that it is "A long road." I don't know, everyone has to do things for their own reasons. If you are doing it for money, prestige, other people. Then you are going to feel that way when you are finished. I am not saying that you shouldn't want to do it for the money and that you reasons don't have to be altruistic. So my point simply put is this, become a doctor if you want to but make sure that you aren't doing it for anyone else but yourself.
             

            Law2Doc

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              Go for what you want -- an MD can always be leveraged into a successful business career.

              Yes, but you certainly don't get as much leverage as you could have had if you spent that same 4 years in business instead of getting the degree, so you wouldn't want to make this move with this plan in mind.

              ONLY go into medicine if what you really want to do is practice medicine, be a clinician. This is what medical school is designed for, and you will be miserable trying to shoehorn this well defined education into some other shape. The doctor who spoke to the OP didn't sugar coat it, and folks shouldn't make career jumps with some pollyana view of medicine being something other than it really is. It is a field where you work long hours, are often not paid as richly as some in pre-allo seem to think, and increasingly you have to jump through hoops with insurance companies to earn your keep. Which is all fine if it's something you really enjoy. But not so fine if you had other reasons for coming aboard.
               

              Quix

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                A psychiatrist I worked with actively discouraged me from applying, saying that it wasn't worth it. Of course, he retired shortly thereafter. A DO with whom I worked had a similar assessment, but he wasn't exactly my model of professionalism. ;)
                 

                Non-TradTulsa

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                  Oh, sure, lots of physicians who have been in practice 20 years or more will discourage you from medicine. Medicine was tons more fun 20 years ago when there was much less managed care and all physicians were Gods who could do just about whatever they wanted to without being questioned. It was nice while it lasted. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy a life of being of service in medicine.

                  What does really get up my nose is physicians who tell me (and I heard this throughout my 20 year career as a healthcare CPA before I went to medical school) that they "should have gotten an MBA." If you question them about that statement, they'll tell you that they could have replaced a $250K/yr dermatologist salary with an MBA and had better hours.

                  That a physician who graduated in the middle of his class just assumes that, if he'd had an MBA, he would have the right combination of both skill and talent to reach the top 0.001% of MBA pay is, to me, absurdly arrogant - and amazingly common.

                  Ask your dermatologist friend if he's willing to scale his lifestyle back to the $75K that a very hardworking average MBA gets after many years of experience. The answer should be very revealing!! :smuggrin:
                   

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                    ONLY go into medicine if what you really want to do is practice medicine, be a clinician. This is what medical school is designed for, and you will be miserable trying to shoehorn this well defined education into some other shape. The doctor who spoke to the OP didn't sugar coat it, and folks shouldn't make career jumps with some pollyana view of medicine being something other than it really is. It is a field where you work long hours, are often not paid as richly as some in pre-allo seem to think, and increasingly you have to jump through hoops with insurance companies to earn your keep. Which is all fine if it's something you really enjoy. But not so fine if you had other reasons for coming aboard.

                    I agree...and I wish I could have made it clear to the doctor with whom I talked tonight that I'm not considering medicine because I think I'm going to be rich. If that was really my goal, I would go into business or finance. Also, I really do want to practice medicine; I don't want to be a research scientist, even one who runs clinical trials, and I certainly don't want to be a lawyer or hedge fund manager (his other suggestions to me). I should have communicated this more clearly when I was on the phone w/the dude. However, when he asked me if I had academic interests in medicine, I panicked and made the mistake of saying that I was kind of interested in potential links between endocrine disruptors and certain cancers, which led him to tell me to "just" get a PhD. :(
                     

                    musashi

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                      I shadow in the ED now and again and the ER docs are all freakin hilarious. They all love their job and all have encourgaed me to go for it. But all have said that yes, you need to understand the road ahead of you. Many of the docs in question have inspired me to complete the journey. Btw, they make excellent $ have a great lifestyle, never on call, and average 10-12 shifts a month. IMHO, not bad for 7 year investment (excluding premed). It's all what you make of it. Following eastern philosophy, it's the journey and not the destination that make the man.
                       

                      Nasrudin

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                        Yes, but you certainly don't get as much leverage as you could have had if you spent that same 4 years in business instead of getting the degree, so you wouldn't want to make this move with this plan in mind.

                        ONLY go into medicine if what you really want to do is practice medicine, be a clinician. This is what medical school is designed for, and you will be miserable trying to shoehorn this well defined education into some other shape. The doctor who spoke to the OP didn't sugar coat it, and folks shouldn't make career jumps with some pollyana view of medicine being something other than it really is. It is a field where you work long hours, are often not paid as richly as some in pre-allo seem to think, and increasingly you have to jump through hoops with insurance companies to earn your keep. Which is all fine if it's something you really enjoy. But not so fine if you had other reasons for coming aboard.

                        Good post. Most predictions I've heard also forecast declining income potentials in the future which further serves your point.

                        Op, I know exactly where you're coming from. I've heard the same things from all the physicians I've worked for. Not necessarrily negative things but just kind of suggesting that other careers might offer better lifestyles especially being that they are only a couple of years older than me.

                        What they don't know for the most part is what its like to work on a roofing crew, a short order cook, a construction laborer, or the dozens of other ways I've paid my bills not the least of which was taking all their orders to do this and that. So I just listen to what they have to say, put in the work for them, and keep moving along to get where they are. I know I'm going to really appreciate being in their shoes I don't care what anybody thinks or has to say about that, I know it in my heart to be true, and I'll come back to the pre-Allo board or here 10 years from now and make good on this statement.
                         
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                          I know I still have a lot of research to do and more people to talk to before I really commit to this, but this was really discouraging. Has anyone else encountered docs that have vehemently advised prospective applicants to -not- pursue medicine? I'm not letting this one doc's opinion stop me from pursuing my dreams...I guess I just wanted to vent, and to see if anyone else has been told similar things. :rolleyes:

                          Of course I've heard and talked with naysayers. And yet, after all that, I still resigned from my job, moved my family, and taken out huge loans to pursue an interest. People may suggest Wall Street. Who cares if Wall Street is where the action is? I wouldn't be happy on Wall Street! People may advise business school, law school, accounting, dental school, or owning a home building company. Maybe so...maybe they are better careers. But, they're not interesting to me at this point and I can only go with what I know now.

                          I had a friend who wanted to be an actor. He was told that he should only pursue acting if he couldn't imagine himself in any other line of work. The acting industry was just too hard, too brutal. He chose acting. Likewise, I chose medicine.
                           

                          relentless11

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                            For the amount of time and effort you put into becoming a physician, the yield isn't as quantifiable as say other professions. As others have elluded to, being happy as a practicing MD depends on the more qualitative aspects. To answer the OP's question if anyone else ran into "negative comments" about medicine, I say the following:

                            From an academic medicine point of view, many of the clinical professors are ecstatic about students (e.g., teaching, and developing ideas), they do enjoy the field, BUT I have encounted some that have become cynical due to the realities of society and/or the bureaucracy of health care, not to mention the bureaucracy of academic institutions.

                            Although I do not have any literature to support this, my PI stated that the average life-span of some population of internists is actually 65! Whether that be mortality, or the age which they stop being internists, I do not know. But many have attributed this average age due to the stress involved the ever increasing issues with the US health care system.

                            The first time I did morning rounds, I ran into a resident (PGY III?), and the first thing he said to me was "run away while you can!"...haha. He later told me he loves the field, but god in contrast with his non-healthcare friends from high school and college, he in some ways felt he got the "short end of the stick". Over the past six years, I have seen numerous residents, attendings, and so on. All look tired...lol. However I'm willing to be deep down they have something happy to think about that keeps them going.

                            Ultimately it is what you make of it, and everyone has their own view of the good, bad and ugly of the profession. Clearly, as you can see on these forums, other professions are viewed differently among members of these forums. I would feel discouraged if a physician told me that being an MD/DO was the worst thing I can do with my life, nor would I feel substantually encouraged by an MD/DO saying its the best thing I can do with my life. In the end it IS MY LIFE, and we are all different, but one should be thankful to see BOTH sides of the story before setting foot into something that is so long lasting, and demanding. Good luck!
                             

                            Nasrudin

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                              For the amount of time and effort you put into becoming a physician, the yield isn't as quantifiable as say other professions. As others have elluded to, being happy as a practicing MD depends on the more qualitative aspects. To answer the OP's question if anyone else ran into "negative comments" about medicine, I say the following:

                              From an academic medicine point of view, many of the clinical professors are ecstatic about students (e.g., teaching, and developing ideas), they do enjoy the field, BUT I have encounted some that have become cynical due to the realities of society and/or the bureaucracy of health care, not to mention the bureaucracy of academic institutions.

                              Although I do not have any literature to support this, my PI stated that the average life-span of some population of internists is actually 65! Whether that be mortality, or the age which they stop being internists, I do not know. But many have attributed this average age due to the stress involved the ever increasing issues with the US health care system.

                              The first time I did morning rounds, I ran into a resident (PGY III?), and the first thing he said to me was "run away while you can!"...haha. He later told me he loves the field, but god in contrast with his non-healthcare friends from high school and college, he in some ways felt he got the "short end of the stick". Over the past six years, I have seen numerous residents, attendings, and so on. All look tired...lol. However I'm willing to be deep down they have something happy to think about that keeps them going.

                              Ultimately it is what you make of it, and everyone has their own view of the good, bad and ugly of the profession. Clearly, as you can see on these forums, other professions are viewed differently among members of these forums. I would feel discouraged if a physician told me that being an MD/DO was the worst thing I can do with my life, nor would I feel substantually encouraged by an MD/DO saying its the best thing I can do with my life. In the end it IS MY LIFE, and we are all different, but one should be thankful to see BOTH sides of the story before setting foot into something that is so long lasting, and demanding. Good luck!


                              I get what you're saying and its true the foreboding advice of current physicians definitely cast an uncertainty over my mind....but like you said its your own life in the end. I also agree with the poster who said its about the journey difficult or not.
                               

                              Law2Doc

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                                Oh, sure, lots of physicians who have been in practice 20 years or more will discourage you from medicine.

                                You hear this from people 5 years out of residency as well (I sure do). They frequently will say, if I had it all to do over again, I probably wouldn't. The issue tends to be not only that medicine isn't what it used to be twenty years ago, but also that it is too hard, too many hours, and too much of a drain on the rest of your life. Thus you have to really enjoy the practice of medicine, because the perqs aren't always worth it and may not even always be there.
                                 

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                                  Oh, sure, lots of physicians who have been in practice 20 years or more will discourage you from medicine. Medicine was tons more fun 20 years ago when there was much less managed care and all physicians were Gods who could do just about whatever they wanted to without being questioned. It was nice while it lasted. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy a life of being of service in medicine.

                                  What does really get up my nose is physicians who tell me (and I heard this throughout my 20 year career as a healthcare CPA before I went to medical school) that they "should have gotten an MBA." If you question them about that statement, they'll tell you that they could have replaced a $250K/yr dermatologist salary with an MBA and had better hours.

                                  That a physician who graduated in the middle of his class just assumes that, if he'd had an MBA, he would have the right combination of both skill and talent to reach the top 0.001% of MBA pay is, to me, absurdly arrogant - and amazingly common.

                                  Ask your dermatologist friend if he's willing to scale his lifestyle back to the $75K that a very hardworking average MBA gets after many years of experience. The answer should be very revealing!! :smuggrin:

                                  I just love this post and think it's so true. :thumbup:
                                   
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                                  Eric Lindros

                                    Being a physician seems like a sweet career choice to me. I've been in and out of pre-med for about 5 years now. My gut feeling says this is what I need to do. This is what excites me. I'm going to therefore proceed with medical school this time. If I hate my job in 20 years, well I guess that's my own tough luck. But then again, doctors aren't the only ones who hate their jobs. And they certainly aren't the only ones who work hard and/or have difficult lifestyles.
                                     

                                    Sol Rosenberg

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                                      To me, the proof is in the pudding. Lots of doctors complain about salaries, etc, but they STAY doctors. If life as a manager, stock broker, etc, etc was so much more lucrative/appealing, they could just change careers. Earning an MBA is so, so much easier than an MD, so why aren't doctors by the thousands running out to get their MBAs and make millions? (I'm sure there are SOME doctors that do this, however)
                                       
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                                      QuinnB

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                                        Hey Jota, to be honest I think most people stay in medicine b/c the investment is so significant that they can't back out. After your first year of med school you're already 40K in debt. Many people don't pay off their loans until they are well into their 30s and 40s and at that time, after 8 years of schooling after high school followed by a 3-10 year residency, many people are very turned off of going back to school to learn a new trade or to start from the bottom again in a new career.

                                        Re:the OP, I appreciated the bitter folk's remarks when I heard them, b/c for the most part I felt that they were being real about medicine. Medicine is not full of glory (paper/computer work eats the majority of your time, healthcare is painfully discouraging, sick people are not always fun and don't always get better) and yes you may have moments of gratification, but you quickly forget them after you've been up for the last 30 hours admitting patients to an understaffed ward without any sense of gratitude from anyone (maybe actually the opposite). This is the reality of medicine.

                                        Honestly, bitter people have tendencies to be that way. Sometimes medicine breaks people but so does the equally as back stabbing corporate world or PhD environment. In the end, just imagine what you see yourself doing when you're 55...the life of an attending is not the same as the life of residents or students and can really be as good as you want it to be.
                                         

                                        Law2Doc

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                                          To me, the proof is in the pudding. Lots of doctors complain about salaries, etc, but they STAY doctors. If life as a manager, stock broker, etc, etc was so much more lucrative/appealing, they could just change careers. Earning an MBA is so, so much easier than an MD, so why aren't doctors by the thousands running out to get their MBAs and make millions? (I'm sure there are SOME doctors that do this, however)

                                          Well, speaking as a profession changer I don't really agree with this analysis. It takes a ton of ba11s to step away from a nice income and comfortable routine, to effectively "start over" in another field. You are effectively stepping off a cliff into the unknown abyss. Everyone you know thinks you lost your mind and you aren't completely sure they aren't correct. Friends and family need to be supportive, notwithstanding that most won't get it. And you are taking your relatively safe, predictable future and make it totally unpredictable. It is not a path for most people, regardless of how frustrated they are with their lott.
                                          Lots of lawyers complain about the law, but few make a change of careers -- that doesn't make the complaints any less valid or their issues with the law nonexistent. So the same holds true for physicians. Heed their advice, and use it to balance out some of the puffery you may hear elsewhere.
                                           

                                          mird

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                                            Here in New Zealand I think the system is a little flawed, in that the majority of people applying for med school are practically straight out of high school, with only a single year of university under their belt. I think one really needs to experience RealLifeTM at least a little bit before making such an important decision to commit to a career in medicine. Having just completed the first year of study it is clear to me that a number of my classmates made the decision to pursue medicine for all the wrong reasons, and I ponder about how many of those who will either during their studies or soon after realise their mistake, but feel obligated to honour their investment.

                                            Such actions would clearly breed great resentment towards the profession.

                                            Having said that I've yet to come across a physician who hasn't encouraged me in my endeavour, although said encouragement has never come without at least a sigh or a shifting of eyes, and the obligatory warning about the level of commitment required. They all seem to agree however that despite all the challenges, a career in medicine is a very rewarding one.
                                             

                                            MJB

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                                              The docs I've spoken with have run the whole spectrum from flat saying 'don't do it" to saying "don't give up on it"...

                                              I've lived a comfy life making what a person with an MBA might make...It's boring as hell...beyond boring...and meaningless.

                                              I want more.
                                               

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                                                To me, the proof is in the pudding. Lots of doctors complain about salaries, etc, but they STAY doctors. If life as a manager, stock broker, etc, etc was so much more lucrative/appealing, they could just change careers. Earning an MBA is so, so much easier than an MD, so why aren't doctors by the thousands running out to get their MBAs and make millions? (I'm sure there are SOME doctors that do this, however)

                                                There definitely are some doctors that are doing this...there was a NY Times article a few weeks ago called "The Very Rich are Leaving the Merely Rich Behind," or something like that. It talked about how some MDs are getting their MBAs and going to work for consulting firms. It's an interesting read.

                                                Here's a link to the article: NY Times
                                                 

                                                MJB

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                                                  There's an article in the latest Kiplinger's about a husband/wife that were both physicians that moved on to become a painter and a financial planner.

                                                  Financial planning is about the only other thing that really interests me at this point.
                                                   

                                                  MiketheAnimal

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                                                    I too have heard lots of negative comments towards the field of medicine. One, from my mother, who has been an RN in OB/GYN for the past 35 years and has come across scores of doctors in her career. Whenever I would bring up interest in medicinei in the past, she always brings up the debt they must climb their way out of, the long hours, etc...

                                                    Another case, I was shadowing an anesthesiologist about 3 months ago at my the hospital my mom works at, and on the way to observe an operation, we bumped into the head of the anesthesiology department. He was a very friendly man, and I expressed my interest in medicine. He quickly responded with a firm "No...you don't want to do that...trust me. You see these nurse anesthetists, thats what you need to do. They have it made...no responsibilities, no liability, none of the paperwork, they make great money and they don't spend a decade in school." He then asked, "Do you have a girlfriend?" I said yes, and then he asked, "Do you ever want to see her? Because if you do, you shouldn't go into medicine."

                                                    My mom agreed of course, but when I see a surgeon performing a procedure to help someone live a happier, healthier life, I really cannot envision myself doing anything else...especially after you see it with your own two eyes. It's truly an amazing thing, even if it takes a decade to get there.
                                                     

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                                                      Yep, a painter...like an "artist".

                                                      I have had similar experiences with anesthesiology folks...and I'm sorry, but I've seen CRNA's get absolutely ABUSED...My wife works with all of them, and sees what they actually go through. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

                                                      I've had ONE gas passer be really encouraging about going into medicine...the rest were lukewarm to it at best. Seems odd that one particular specialty would be a common theme.

                                                      The internal med guy LOVES medicine and encourages everyone he knows and believes could do it to move forward with their decision. He's a GREAT doc as well...being named best physician at the hospital for a few years running now.
                                                       
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                                                        I meant to add that I take all of them with a grain of salt...no one can tell you if you will like it or not..and you won't know until you do it.

                                                        So, I just take in the information and make use of it as I can.
                                                         

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                                                        1. Medical Student
                                                          That a physician who graduated in the middle of his class just assumes that, if he'd had an MBA, he would have the right combination of both skill and talent to reach the top 0.001% of MBA pay is, to me, absurdly arrogant - and amazingly common.

                                                          Ask your dermatologist friend if he's willing to scale his lifestyle back to the $75K that a very hardworking average MBA gets after many years of experience. The answer should be very revealing!! :smuggrin:

                                                          Very true. People just assume that they could 'make millions' doing something else....grass is always greener and all. I worked in the IT industry for a couple of years after graduation and still have friends there. One is hitting 60 hours/week as a consultant and he doesn't get paid nearly as much as a surgeon who works the same hours. Does he wish he's a doc? Well, he wishes he can make the same salary considering his putting in similar hours. I worked at a company that expected people to put in 50 hours on a regular basis. Doctors may complain about their hours, but everyone's putting in longer hours these days.

                                                          The thing is, it's always easy to see the money people makes, harder to see the sweat that they had to pour into the work to earn that keep. Doctors make money. Doctors work hard. I think doctors should stop trying to think they are all business geniuses who sacrificed their income potential to 'save lives' because I'm pretty sure most of us could never be the next Bill Gates had we not gotten into med school. In fact, I think it's this self-sacrificing mentality that gets doctors into trouble. They think they are making such a huge sacrifice and then expect to see a huge return on their sacrifice that they end up disappointed when it doesn't show up.

                                                          To me, the proof is in the pudding. Lots of doctors complain about salaries, etc, but they STAY doctors. If life as a manager, stock broker, etc, etc was so much more lucrative/appealing, they could just change careers. Earning an MBA is so, so much easier than an MD, so why aren't doctors by the thousands running out to get their MBAs and make millions? (I'm sure there are SOME doctors that do this, however)

                                                          That's very true. I'd say that there's quite a bit of career changers in business and law, more so than in medicine. I'm not saying that a doctor's life is great or better than other profession, but the job can't be as hideous as some on these boards make it out to be if people are willing to stay at it despite the horrible ordeal that they make it out to be.


                                                          As for me, I have yet to meet a doctor who discouraged me from it. However, I have met doctors who cautioned me about my reasons for going into it. One told me that money is not a good reason to go into it because it's won't make you a happy doctor. Another told me that I will earn every penny of that pretty salary, while another told me to go into derm ( :rolleyes: ). However, none told me that it was a horrible job and that they wouldn't go into again.

                                                          I just think being the job of a physician is put on such a high pedestal by some people (not just premeds) that MDers try to caution those that are overly idealistic about the realities of the job. Unlike other professions (such as say.....accounting) where there may be fewer people with romanticized notions of the job, medicine is a job where most of us at some point probably had some fanciful notion about being the heroic doc that performs the emergency surgery in the middle of the resturant with only a spoon and whipped cream and saves the young child's life. And perhaps it's this high expectation which cause problems when the reality doesn't jive with the fantasy. I think that's why some doctors try to impress upon young premeds the negatives of the profession.
                                                           

                                                          sketcham

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                                                          1. Pre-Medical
                                                            In the years i've spent as a nurse and as a NP (nurse practitioner) I have met and worked with many different Doc's. They're just like everyone else who complains about their job, some people complain more than others and some people are just unhappy with life period. I have found though that some specialties are happier than others. I for one would never encourage someone to be a nurse or an NP, but thats just me.
                                                            For the last year I have worked with a urogyn surgeon, she knows me well and she has encouraged me non-stop to go to med school, but yesterday I was speaking with a repro endo doc that I don't know at all and mentioned that I was taking pre-reqs for med school. He told me that he loves his job but if I wanted his opinion he would recommend being an NP or PA (good $, less responsibility, less education time). When I said that I already tried the NP gig and wanted more he then encouraged me to go ahead with med school.
                                                            So....i've decided that most just don't want to be responsble for someone's possible future unhappiness and debt.
                                                            Who knows right? However, the great thing about nontrads is that usually we are mature enough to make a responsible decision and not just jump in for $illy reasons.
                                                            At least one would hope....
                                                             

                                                            jules922

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                                                            1. Pre-Medical
                                                              In my experience, and it seems the experiences of many who have posted, the doctors who discourage people from going into medicine are those who are concerned about money ... are those really the kind of doctors who you want to take advice from? I work for a pediatrician who is in it for the right reasons - caring for and about patients and communities - and she is nothing but encouraging.
                                                               

                                                              Law2Doc

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                                                                In my experience, and it seems the experiences of many who have posted, the doctors who discourage people from going into medicine are those who are concerned about money ...

                                                                Not my experience - most of the docs who "encouraged me" to think twice about my decision did so because of the absurd time demands, frustrations and insurance company related red tape and paperwork. "It's just too hard" is a frequent comment I have heard.
                                                                 

                                                                Law2Doc

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                                                                  I believe that MDs should discourage pre-meds from the profession. Anyone who can be dissuaded from persuing this career should never go into it in the first place. They will lead a much more fulfilling life, and never have to endure the beating that comes with getting an MD and board certification.

                                                                  I'm not sure they should be discouraged, but should know the real deal. Hours are bad, money is often overblown, your ability to "cure" people is more rare than on TV. There are ample reasons to be frustrated. But if practicing medicine itself, apart from any perqs (real or imagined) is the role you think you will enjoy, then there are worse things in life you could be doing.
                                                                   

                                                                  jonathon

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                                                                  1. Other Health Professions Student
                                                                    I am a non-traditional student interested in becoming a genetic counselor. I just happened to visit this thread and wanted to add my .02.

                                                                    I grew up in a very rural area in the Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin area. Most of my relatives and family have either owned a farm, work for a farmer, or work for a company that fix farm equipment. My parents were farmers for 25 years (both mom and dad grew up on a farm as well). When I was 18 years old my parents finally called it quits on farming and have moved onto working for companies that fix farm equipment. So this past year my dad racked in $53,000 by working hard, working long hours, and being a great employee. My dad’s base salary for a base 40/hr/wk per year is $32,000. My dad almost doubled his base salary by working long hours.

                                                                    I have lived a whole life of living of just the basics. I have never had an expensive car, never had the expensive meals, and never have spent a thousand dollars to spend a week in some exotic location. Myself, and my family have worked really hard for what we have.

                                                                    I have some relatives who have a college education and struggle to make it in life finically as well.

                                                                    When I came home for Christmas break this winter, I learned that were 6 surgeons leaving the local clinic because they were not making enough money. So I asked one doctor that I have a connection with at the clinic and I asked him why they were leaving and where they would go and when they would leave? He said back to me “They don’t know when or where they will go.” He also said that these surgeons were only making ~100,000 dollars (in a very low cost of living area). But the real clicker for why they are leaving the local clinic, it’s because they don’t have enough patients to make it.

                                                                    So I said back to the doctor, well they can go to Chicago then and have more patients but they will be stuck working longer hours and have to pay a MUCH higher cost of living.

                                                                    A lot of his unhappiness comes from a person being unhappy about themselves. This unhappiness can come from having to work long hours, low pay, not enough family time, not enough patients, not a enough variety of difference types of cases, etc. Every pre-med should come to the realization that being a doctor is JUST A JOB. It is nothing more.

                                                                    I have worked a factor job, lab assistant, tutor, grocery store, farming, feed mill, and have worked in a hospital for 3 years. At every job I have worked there were people who hated what they were doing and a couple of people who were happy what they are doing. You will find this no matter what career you go into. The career I’m going to go into some of the negatives is lack of support, the hard work, very emotionally draining, lack of respect in the medical field, etc.

                                                                    I have spent more hours shadowing then any other application that has ever applied to the graduate program I will be applying to (director stated that as a fact). So I have been able to witness the wide range of situations that I will be facing in the future.

                                                                    While I’m an undergraduate student I am working more then 40 hours per week to pay back my student loans while going to school. I’m working my ass off while I go to school because it will help me financially in the future. I work Friday and Saturday 3rd shift and Monday night 3rd shift. I then work Monday, Tuesday, Wed, Thursday, and Friday night after school. I don’t care about missing out on the parties. I care more about my future then drinking 3 beers this coming Friday night. I’m already engaged and in love with my SO.

                                                                    When I become a genetic counselor, I will have the highest base pay of everyone in the family. However, I will also have the most stress to deal with, the longest hours, the fewest free time hours, and have a lot more responsibility (beyond being a parent) then any other person in my family.

                                                                    I think what a lot of people do wrong when they chose a career is where they take the job. You won’t have much money at all being able to live in San Fran, New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other big cities when you have a wage lower then $70,000. Since I know this (I have a friend who works for the Department of Treasurer), I won’t be looking for employment in the biggest of the big cities because of the high cost of living.

                                                                    A mistake a LOT of pre-med doctor wannabes make is they make the mistake of not knowing what they are getting themselves into. Let me give you an example of 3 students who were in one of my classes this past semester:

                                                                    Me: Why do you want to become a doctor?
                                                                    Student 1: because I think it’s interesting.

                                                                    Me: Why do you want to become a doctor?
                                                                    Student 2: I don’t know, I just want to make a lot of money.

                                                                    Me: Why do you want to become a doctor?
                                                                    Student 3: because I want to help people. His reason for this is what took place in India a couple of years ago (the huge water waves…can’t think of what it is called at this very second)

                                                                    Here are my analyses on the students:

                                                                    Student 1: she is genuine, needs to mature mentally though, and actually is looking at all types of careers in medicine and not just being a doctor. I can see her getting a job in the medical field; most likely not a doctor

                                                                    Student 2: this girl is 25 years old and has not worked a single job since graduating high school. She lives of her mom and dad (they pay rent, bills, tution.etc). I told her that she might end up in 250k debt and if that bothered her. She said it don’t matter, dad will just pay the debt off for me. So I ask her what area of medicine she is interested in. She said anything in medicine that doesn’t involve working with icky people. She is bound for failure.

                                                                    Student 3: this guy is smart, but lacks common sense. His wife is a nurse. But he has not worked a single job in 2 years now. He is only taking 1 class this spring semester so he can concentrate on the MCAT. Next year when he applies he said he won’t get a job either and just hope he gets in some where. His wife is paying for his education, his MCAT pre-class, his gas, food, bills, rent, and med school applications.

                                                                    A couple of other students that I had class with last semester also want to go into medical school but one student is a total bitch with a capital B and another student has trouble understanding very basic concepts but does work as a pharmacy assistant. I can see the latter student making it into medical school because he is black (yes, I know it is mean to say that).

                                                                    In another class I had this past semester we had a guess speaker who was a physician and one student asked when the best time is to have a baby and the guess speaker said she left academic medicine to work in a rural clinic so she could have a family. This student is no longer applying for medical school but will get a degree in another field in medicine.

                                                                    Of all of my friends, guess who will be the most successful? My friend who is an economics major. He will be the most successful because he knows his field inside out, is working really hard at making connections, reads up on his field, learning what it takes to be a success in the field, learning about career option in the field, and already has ideas of what he wants to do and is making connections to make it happened. But then you go to the pre-med students that I mentioned above and all they do is spend all night staring at page 211 in their Organic Chemistry textbook and wishing for an A so they can get into medical school.
                                                                     

                                                                    notdeadyet

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                                                                    1. Attending Physician
                                                                      I also asked a family friend who started med school at a later age (post 30s), and she said that it is really "not that big of a deal," and that she absolutely loves her career choice.
                                                                      Yeah, I notice that the doctors most unhappy with their lot in life are the "traditionals" who have not held a job outside of medicine. This is why so many have very naive impressions about an MBA being a golden ticket to early retirement and whatnot.

                                                                      Most nontrad physicians I've met seem to be very happy; they know the grass on the other side of the fence isn't as green as you'd think.
                                                                       

                                                                      Law2Doc

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                                                                      1. Attending Physician
                                                                        Yeah, I notice that the doctors most unhappy with their lot in life are the "traditionals" who have not held a job outside of medicine. This is why so many have very naive impressions about an MBA being a golden ticket to early retirement and whatnot.

                                                                        Most nontrad physicians I've met seem to be very happy; they know the grass on the other side of the fence isn't as green as you'd think.

                                                                        Partly that, and partly that people who are going to ditch their prior career for medicine are more likely to have researched the medicine career more thoroughly. You tend to get less unhappy when you are less surprised.
                                                                        Also it's one thing to "talk" about an 80 hour work week and another thing altogether to have actually worked some. A lot of nontrads have a better sense of what this means in reality, not as an abstract concept.
                                                                         

                                                                        Wackie

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                                                                        1. Pre-Medical
                                                                          I know I still have a lot of research to do and more people to talk to before I really commit to this, but this was really discouraging. Has anyone else encountered docs that have vehemently advised prospective applicants to -not- pursue medicine? I'm not letting this one doc's opinion stop me from pursuing my dreams...I guess I just wanted to vent, and to see if anyone else has been told similar things. :rolleyes:


                                                                          That's one opinion out of thousands of practicing doctors. Just keep getting opinions and try to shadow doctors as much as you can so you can start to form your own opinions.

                                                                          I've gotten everything from a pat on the back and a hug to symbolize I've just been taken under their wing to "You must be f'ing nuts!!"
                                                                          :laugh:

                                                                          The derm you spoke with has a valuable opinion. There is an ugly side to medicine which needs to be explored. I learn more and more about it every day. Turf wars, insurance companies, pecking order (even after residency)...it's a long list, I'm finding.
                                                                          The worst thing possible, IMO, is to wade through all of the crap to becoming a doctor and having that ugly side biatch slap you out of nowhere.
                                                                           

                                                                          NonTradMed

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                                                                          Somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
                                                                          1. Medical Student
                                                                            [One morning I found my resident all broken up in the call room. Her baby had just rolled over for the first time, and the only reason she got to see it was that her husband sent the video clip to her cell phone. Think she would "do it all over again if she had the chance"?]

                                                                            Honestly, I can't imagine it's such a big deal to miss minor milestones. My grandmothers took care of me as a baby, up until I was three and my mother worked fulltime from the time I was 6 weeks old---as was standard for most urban Chinese mothers, including ALL of my cousins. And neither I nor my cousins feel we were deprived of our mother's love, at least not anymore than feeling deprived of our father's love since our dads all worked fulltime as well.

                                                                            Must be a a cultural thing.

                                                                            For me, I didn't even remember these things, so it's not like this is a hallmark moment that I could share with my mother. From the time I was in school, my mother never missed anything important. As doctors, I'm sure I will be missing out on some things in life, but isn't that true for many people who try to juggle home and work?

                                                                            Yeah, I notice that the doctors most unhappy with their lot in life are the "traditionals" who have not held a job outside of medicine. This is why so many have very naive impressions about an MBA being a golden ticket to early retirement and whatnot.

                                                                            Most nontrad physicians I've met seem to be very happy; they know the grass on the other side of the fence isn't as green as you'd think.

                                                                            If I see one more "if I wanted to make money I would have just gotten my MBA and made millions" post on these threads.... :rolleyes:

                                                                            However, I can't fault traditional applicants for being naive about what a job entails since I was one of them until I held my first 'real' job after graduation. I think my experience, despite putting me 2-3 years behind my peers, will actually make me appreciate medicine more as a career because I have had time to really reflect on what I wanted to do in life and I know about the crap that comes with having a 'real' job that I think my fellow classmates may never know until their first day in residency.

                                                                            Partly that, and partly that people who are going to ditch their prior career for medicine are more likely to have researched the medicine career more thoroughly. You tend to get less unhappy when you are less surprised.
                                                                            Also it's one thing to "talk" about an 80 hour work week and another thing altogether to have actually worked some. A lot of nontrads have a better sense of what this means in reality, not as an abstract concept.

                                                                            I've typically worked 45 hours/week, but I have seen people working 60+ hours and have spent a couple weeks working 70+ hours myself. I hated the amount of time we were forced to put in but I think I have a better appreciation of these numbers now that I have witness and experienced what it means to family life when one has to put in such major hours into a career. I think a nontrad who have never held a job and who went into medicine without much forethought are going to be in for a ruder awakening when their first job requires them to put in 80 hours. I can see why there would be bitterness for many people who have to endure such a hazing process as their first step into this profession.
                                                                             
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