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Dilemma: Surgeon MD or DVM?

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Herpeto

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This past year I applied to both medical school and veterinary school. I now have the tough choice of selecting one as a career. I am trying to attain as much information about the constraints and pro and cons of each. I figure everyone here would have some idea as to the human side. To become a veterinary surgeon I will have to finish four years of schools, 1-year general internship, 1-year surgery internship and a three-year residency. This means it will be about the same time commitment as human surgery.

I am wondering which is easier to raise a family under. Considering I am now 27 and I will be about 37 by the time I finish a residency for general surgery, I will most likely have to procreate while finishing my residency. How logistical is this? What is the average malpractice insurance rate for general surgeons? I have also heard that most practices look down on partners who don't work at least 60 hours a week, is this true? What is the average take-home salary for a general surgeon after malpractice and taxes? I assume you work 80 hours a week throughout the entire residency. Is it easier to attain a residency spot because so many doctors are competing for the Derm. and Rad. spots? Do you have to be at the top of your class to land a surgery residency? It would also be great to hear and other pros and cons that I didn't cover.


Herp
 

bigmuny

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in general,vet less money, less hours, less stress. md/do the opposite. also, as a vet you need to be a bit more of a hustler(business minded) to make it in private practice
 

apma77

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ask yourself one question : "do i want to take care of people or horses/cattle/dogs for the rest of my life?"

the answer will be clear...if it still isnt then see a psychiatrist!
 

Herpeto

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I wish it were as easy as choosing which I would prefer to do surgery on. However, in my opinion, once you open them up, the job is the same. I am really torn between the two and am having a hard time deciding. On the one hand I would have more free time in Vet med, but would probably only make $150K. On the other hand, I would enjoy human surgery with all the added financial benefits, but I would have to deal with more bureaucracy and time management. It would be unlikely that I would select a practice in Vet med where I would have to do emergency surgeries. Could I get into a human surgery practice that works semi-normal hours?

Herp
 

NE_Cornhusker1

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Consider military medicine if you want to cut without all the BS that goes with it. Getting school paid for [HPSP and Reserves] isn't bad either. The paycheck isn't quite what you'll find in private practice but the benefits [no malpractice, educational benefits, and other benefits of the military] make for a competitive compensation package.
 

hemoccult

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Why not do both? We have one of the best trauma attendings known to man who has a DVM and an MD behind his name. The man is a genius and can handle anything man or beast coming through the door at any time of day!:clap:
 

Kalel

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Malpractice is leaking it's way into vetinary medicine too. I recall reading a news article about a pet owner who was suing a vet for emotional damages and loss of companionship that far exceeded the actual cost of the pet. The vet association was complaining about this case setting a precedence of course, but I don't know what ever happened with this case. Those lawyers are aggressive and there are too many of them; I'm certain that it's only a matter of time before the leak their way into vetinary medicine too.
 

avendesora

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Originally posted by Herpeto
Considering I am now 27 and I will be about 37 by the time I finish a residency for general surgery, I will most likely have to procreate while finishing my residency.

OK, THAT line was one of the most "surgeon-like" things I've ever heard here :)

Seriously, this is something you gotta choose for yourself. You also need to look at the fact that you may not LIKE surgery. In people medicine, there are lots of other opportunities outside surgery where you can make a buck. I looked at vet med before medical school, and one of the things I disliked was the financial insecurity of general vet medicine after borrowing all that money for school.

Also, looking at your schools, the DO degree is much less accepted in surgery than it is in things like EM, IM, and FP -- at least where I am. You would have a tough time landing a surgical subspecialty (ENT, Orhto, Optho) with a DO, I think. Not because DO's are bad or untalented, but because surgery is so damn traditional. Of course, with all those schools outstanding I'm sure you'll have your pick. If I had med school to do over again, I'd bend all my will to getting into UVM. Burlington is a great town.
 

VentdependenT

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Are you insane? Be a vet! If you kill Mr. Friggles pet goat during a billygoatlaprotomyotomy so be it. He'll get another goat. Plus you would be in Colorado. Man, there is no choice here.

You can swing a decent allo gen surg residency as a DO but you must do a couple of strong audition rotations for letters and kick some serious tail on your USMLE (unless you just want to go community general surgery). It is traditional, but can be done without major difficulty. Surgery is a wonderful field, but it is ennervating and most likely not what you think it is.

However when Mr. Friggles Father dies in the SICU from septic shock because you did a primary anastamosis, instead of opting for leaving the man with a degrading colostomy bag, its going to sting quite a bit. Folks will die at your hands despite your best intentions and justifications. So will goats and race horses, but like I said, not that big of a deal.

You must also endure scathing reprimandations during an allo/osteo surgical residency. For dog gen surg residencies I doubt you'll feel like quitting every day of your life for having your pride crucified daily.
 

Herpeto

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OK, THAT line was one of the most "surgeon-like" things I've ever heard here


Aven,
I know the quote may not have been full of feeling, but I aim to think as logically as I can. I try to remove emotion from most decisions so that I can think clearly. It just makes more sense to me. Why would you have chosen Vermont? Did you apply there? What I dislike about Vermont is that $40K tuition price tag. Spending $160K on tuition alone is something I am trying to avoid. I have never been in debt and despise that fact that I will now have to go into a huge amount of debt to attain the ultimate objective.

Vent,
What if I get into CU medical school, then I will still be in Colorado? I understand that people may die under my care at some point and I believe I can deal with that. The thing I like about surgery is that once you open the specimen up, the job is the same. Remove, fix, adjust, its all just playing with organs, and a bit more.

I definitely see where everyone's coming from with the fact that veterinary medicine is a bit less stress because if an animal dies, there are few repercussion the patients' owner would consider taking or care to take. One the other hand, unlike in human residency, veterinary residencies don't restrict their hours. I have a friend doing an internship right now and she is working about 18 hours a day at least 6 days a week. I'm sure there are some of the same recriminations and disheartenment in vet med, maybe just not as many.

The DO issue is another conundrum I am dealing with. I know I want to specialize in either cardiology or surgery and am wondering how difficult that is as a DO. I too agree that DO's are very good doctors, however, their is still a bit of a stigma attached to the discipline. I didn't realize how traditional surgery was and that it may be difficult to land a general surgery spot.

The other thing I have to consider is that surgery spots in vet med are fewer and there are many, many applicant for each spot. This makes it that much harder to attain a residency in comparison with human medicine.

One other thing. I have a deposit due at a DO school on March 15th to the toll of $750. Should I risk it by not sending in the money and hoping I will gain entry into an allopathic school? So I assume you would recommend MD over DO if I am planning on specializing?
 

VentdependenT

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As previously stated, you can land a gen surg spot as a DO. But it'll be a middle tier school at best unless you really blow away someone during an away rotation. You will cut at a decent academic program if you want to. It always depends on how bad you want it.

As far as specializing goes, I know of many DO's specializing in internal medicine. However landing an ortho, uro, or other specialty position will be extremely challenging (going military will increase your chances). Stellar letters, research, and outstanding USMLE scores are the minimum. Even then it can very difficult, but not impossible (had a guy match allo ortho in phoenix last year). So if you see a possibilty of entering a specialized surgical field, or second guessing your decision of being an osteopath, go allo.

Best o' luck
 

avendesora

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Herp--

Hey, I just like the state of Vermont and Burlington. I interviewed there for IM this year, and while I loved the city, the program is not exactly top tier. The medical school, from what I understand, is pretty good, but I don't know that much about it. Definitely worth an interview, though.

I like it because it's on the water and only 20 minutes from the best east coast skiing. Also, people up there just tend to have a certain quality that's hard to describe. You have to take this in the context that I'm from Ohio, so there's a "ooohhh - look at the pretty mountains" factor too :)

Don't sweat the debt thing. Everybody's doing it... Seriously, I'm at a state school, but had to borrow for living expenses so am looking at something like $125K. You can defer payments or make income adjusted payments during residency. 160K debt will come out to something like $1800/month for 120 months or $900/month over 360 months. Interest rates are currently so low that it makes sense to stretch the payments as long as possible. Check out the financial aid forum for a more in depth explanation of this, as I'm no finance major.

Bottom line -- as a general surgeon in practice you're looking at - worst case - 10-12 G's per month in gross income, 6-7 take home. $900 out of that is significant, but not overwhelming (and I think you can deduct the interest?)

Also, about the procreating comment, I was not trying to be hurtful or mean, but it just struck me as funny. Knowing some surgeons, you do sound like you'd be a good fit :hardy:

Best of luck in your decision making process.
 

FliteSurgn

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avendesora,

FYI, the income tax deduction for student loan interest can't be taken if your income is greater than $65k. ($130k if married)
 
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