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Burned out pre-med?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by marydee, Jul 13, 2002.

  1. marydee

    marydee Member

    Jul 1, 2002
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    I would like to hear some honest opinions from those med students who have taken on themselves to become CNA's and EMT's. Tell me your honest stories of this scut work. I have a friend in my undergrad who has rec'd both of these certifications
    between his fresh and soph year of college to get a feel for med school. He has had wonderful firsthand opportunities all over the hospital. He has told me stories of having 9-10 patients for his shift and having responsibility to their needs. Also stories of 24 hour shifts as an EMT doing "code" calls and actually saving lives. On the other hand, he sounds burned out and is comparing CNA work as the lowest of all jobs. He admits it has opened many doors for him?like observing surgery, working in ER, working in ICU, and continuously being challenged. But he also seems burned out and thinks CNA work is the pits. This guy is a very humble and compassionate guy so it's hard to understand this preliminary line of work. Is it true? Those of you that have taken this on-hands approach to clinical experience?do you agree?
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  3. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader Banned

    May 5, 2002
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    I did not have extensive clinical experience as an undergrad and in a way, I am actually kind of glad that I didn't. I did notice in undergrad that those individuals who had "important" clinical experience such as EMTs often became so engrossed in their experience that they lost sight of their goal of becoming a doctor and let their GPA slip due to the huge time commitment of being an EMT. There is plenty of time for clinical experience in medical school and beyond, if you are sure that you want to be a doctor, I always suggest people to do the minimal clinical experience to satisfy adcoms. I think that people should use college to obtain other experiences that they could not get in medicine while maintaining good time management skills that keeps their focus on the goal of getting into medical school (ie if your spending over 10 hrs a week on some EC while studying, you are probably spending too much time there). The key is to minimize the time you spend doing anything while maximizing the amount that you get out of it (resume or general experience-wise). My 2 cents. Oh, and the nurses in my med school class have spoken about burn out in dealing with patients as nurses; their angle in pt care is very different then how physicians deal with pts and shouldn't be used as judge to see if you will enjoy doing medicine.
  4. orthoman5000

    orthoman5000 Senior Member

    Apr 1, 2002
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    Well I'm about to finish 14 months of full-time CNA work on 11P-7A shift and it's not a moment too soon. My last day is this next Friday night and I'm counting the days. I start Med School at UAMS August 6th.

    Here is my take on CNA work. I needed some sort of clinical exposure to look good on my application and I hadn't had any (I only decided I wanted to go to med school my last semester before I earned by BS). Anyway, my Mom's friend was in HR at this hospital and she set me up with this job, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

    At first the work was kind of cool because I was interacting with patients and working in a hospital, but it got old pretty fast. You are the lowest of the low on the totem pole, and even though I had more education that almost all of the nurses I worked under I felt like I was treated like I was stupid quite a bit. The work is repetative (ie vital signs), boring (emptying foley catheter bags), frustrating (trying to get someone up to weigh them that has every drain and IV in the book on them), and just unintellectually challenging. Now thats not to say the job is easy, because physically and emotionally it's quite rough.

    It's unbelievable some of the things that patients do and say during the night. Rule number one is that no one sleeps at night in the hospital!!

    It's been a good experience but yes it can burn you out really quickly. During the past year I've done this I've seen CNA's (and nurses for that matter) come and go, yet I'm still here!

    I'm just looking forward to dealing with patients from the physicians angle. I'm sure it's still tough at times, but it can't be as bad as this.

    Oh well, 5 more nights!

    To slightly change the words to a GNR song: "It's been 14 months of sorrow, it's been 14 months of pain, it's been 14 months that are gone forever that I'll never have again":)
  5. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

    Jun 6, 2002
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    Attending Physician
    I would not advise anyone to take time off from college to become an EMT. The pay is horrible, and if you are only certified as an EMT-Basic, then you aren't likely to run emergent calls. Most EMT-B's are stuck running "gomer" calls -- nursing home transfers, hospital "carry homes," and other non-emergent calls. Nearly all of the life-threatening calls are responded to by EMT-Paramedics. However, there are some EMS agencies that allow an EMT-Basic or EMT-Intermediate to partner with a paramedic to staff an advanced life support ambulance.

    Being an EMT can be demanding. I worked a 24-hour shift every Saturday while in college. I remember countless nights of no sleep. I really enjoyed it -- I guess I'm a gluten for punishment. The pay is fairly low (about what you would make as a CNA) if you are an EMT-Basic. EMT-Paramedics make a little more, but it's still not a great living. The primary benefit I saw in being an EMT and later a paramedic was the clinical knowledge I gained and the familiarity with various drugs. I had a very easy time with medical school pharmacology because I had seen most drugs before. Many of my classmates were timid around real and simulated patients. I didn't seem to suffer from this.

    If your plan is to become an EMT or CNA just to increase your chances of getting in, then you are doomed to failure. If, however, you are interested in doing patient care now and having some fun, then it may be for you. Where else can you legally drive above the speed limit or go through red traffic signals (after clearing the intersection of course)?
  6. LeslieKay

    LeslieKay Member

    May 27, 2002
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    I was a CNA for awile, and although it was a great experience, don't do it if you want to see what being a doctor would be like. You are the lowest on the totem pole--just doing all of the things that the doctors and nurses don't want to do. I think shadowing is better if you really want exposure to doctors. However, if you are done in school and need a job before starting med school it's not a terrible way to go.

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