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Health Career Mythbusters

Discussion in 'hSDN' started by Depakote, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
    Rocket Scientist Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    This thread will address myths about careers in healthcare, the application processes, residencies, etc.

    Myth:
    If I don't get into a top XX college, I'll never get into a top XX medical school and never get into the residency I want.

    The Facts:
    While attending a university known for it's prestigious name may give you the brand name, it does not promise you success. You are responsible for your own achievements in college and in the end a high MCAT and strong GPA from your state university will get you much farther than a lackluster performance at a big name institution. This goes on to residency placement as well, you do not need to go to the big name medical school to get into a competitive residency. High board scores, good clinical grades and making the right impressions will help you match more than the name of your school.

    Summary:
    You are responsible for your own success in medicine. Names sound nice, but the work you do will decide where you go next.
     
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  3. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
    Rocket Scientist Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    Myth:
    This forum is completely anonymous. People can't figure out who I am.

    Facts:
    Admissions Committee members can and do read this website. Depending on the amount of information you post, it is quite possible to determine who you are.

    Use discretion when posting sensitive information that might be pieced together (or obvious clues to your identity such as Facebook/Myspace profiles). Using your real name and/or date of birth in your username is probably not a good idea.

    It's always a good idea to post in such a way that you'd want your online persona to be a positive reflection of you should someone identify you.
     
  4. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
    Rocket Scientist Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    Myth:
    If I got arrested for/convicted of _____, I'll never get into medical school.

    Facts:
    (the following is simply guideline advice, your best course of action would be to consult a lawyer regarding your specific circumstances)

    Many medical schools/hospitals perform background checks. It is important to know exactly what your legal situation is if you have previous legal action taken against you.

    A lot of this is subjective on the nature of the crime and whether it was a juvenile offense (which may be expunged/sealed).

    If the crime is on your juvenile record, it will likely be sealed before you apply to medical school and it will be like it never happened in the eyes of the law/med schools.

    If the crime is a misdemeanor, it may be worth consulting a lawyer and attempting to have the charge expunged from your record. This will again make it like it never happened in the eyes of the law/med schools.

    Less of a concern:
    While not condoned, most schools are not going to reject you for a few speeding tickets or a MIP as long as you have not made a pattern of any reckless behavior.

    Likely to cause problems:
    Anything regarding illicit drugs. Especially the intention to distribute. Schools and hospitals do not want to risk licensing someone to write prescriptions if the person has already violated controlled substance laws.
     
  5. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    My mother/sister/father/brother/cousin/uncle is a doctor, therefore I have to be one too.

    Facts:
    A life in medicine is a very personal decision. Just because someone decided that it was right for them doesn't make it right for you. This is an extreme commitment, you should go into medicine because it will make you happy, not because someone else did it.
     
  6. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    Being a physician is the ONLY worthwhile health career. If I can't be one I'll die!!!!!

    Facts:
    Being a doctor requires years of thankless work and exhaustive training. You are rewarded with supreme responsibility, the hours and the liability that come with it. You will likely pay several hundred thousand dollars for this privileged. There are many ancillary and mid-level health fields that will get you working sooner for a very decent pay. You see patients. Your hours will be better, you will be paying off your loans sooner you could even be writing prescriptions.

    This does not even begin to address the other professions such as Pharmacy, Dentistry, Podiatry, etc. All award doctoral level degrees, have comparably better hours and lifestyle to the majority of medicine.

    Summary: there are many very rewarding careers available that provide patient interaction, a good lifestyle and are financially rewarding.
     
  7. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    To get into a top medical school you need straight A's and a 45 on the MCAT or you better have a wing of the building named after someone in your family.

    Facts:
    The most selective school in the country had a average 3.91GPA (almost straight A's) and a 37MCAT average last year. Other schools were less selective, with GPA averages closer to 3.8 and MCAT averages closer to 35. These are for the "Top Ranked" schools in the country. The average for for medical schools in 2007 was 3.65 and 30.8. So you don't need Straight A's but as many as possible (average a little over A-) and an MCAT somewhere above 30 will put you in good shape.
     
  8. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    If I don't go to a "top ranked" medical school, I won't get as good of an education.

    Fact:
    All accredited medical schools in the United States are required to teach you the same thing. You may have different opportunities during your clinical rotations at some schools and you may have different opportunities for research at other schools but by the time you graduate a doctor from Unranked State Medical School will have learned everything a doctor from John's Harvale Medical School. The rankings that distinguish the two are largely determined by research funding (something that rarely affects the education of medical students). John's Harvale receives millions of dollars in federal research money every year, Unranked State Medical school might only receive a few thousand. So John's Harvale is ranked #1 and Unranked State doesn't even make the list. Does this mean that Unranked State isn't going to teach you how to be a good physician? No. In fact, the kicker just might be that since John's Harvale's residency programs are so big, medical students have to fight the residents to do procedures. At Unranked State, the residency programs are fair sized so the students get good hands on experience in clinic.
     
  9. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth: I need to start studying for the MCAT, PCAT, OAT, etc in high school in order to do well!!!

    Fact (with a bit of advice):
    These tests cover material you learn in college. It is just as pointless to study now as it would be for you to start studying for your medical boards. You cannot review material you have not learned yet. The best thing students can be doing in High School is nailing down their study methods so when it does come time to study for the MCAT, PCAT, OAT, etc, they're studying efficiently.

    (post 7,500!):D
     
  10. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    Doctors/Dentists have a high suicide rate.

    Fact:
    This is actually true (for the doctors at least). Every year 300-400 physicians commit suicide (a very high per-capita rate for the profession). Physicians are just as prone to clinical depression as the normal population, combine this with the extreme hours of residency and the stress of having a patient's life in your hands, it can be a potent combination.
    Here are two links worth looking into on the subject:
    http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/6/prweb996554.htm
    http://www.doctorswithdepression.org/
     
  11. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    To get accepted into medical school, I have to major in the natural sciences.

    Fact:
    Many medical students do not major in any of the natural sciences. (I was a liberal arts major). You may major in anything you choose as long as you complete the required courses for the schools that you are applying to.
     
  12. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    You have to start college right after high school. You have to start medical school right after college.

    Fact:
    There is no required time-line for progression. The average age of a first-year medical student is 24. This means that many students did something for a year or two before starting medical school. In a typical first-year class there will be many students straight from college and some older students that are changing careers, have children, etc.
     
  13. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    Medicine is just like House, Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, Nip Tuck, ER, etc.

    Fact:
    Each of these shows tries to represent medicine to a different degree, but they are all primarily entertainment. (I'm going to paraphrase Law2Doc, another SDN staffer for the rest of this comment) The first few seasons of Scrubs are widely considered the most accurate portrayal of residency. House does a good job showing how one goes through a differential diagnosis, writing possibilities on a board, figuring out ways to eliminate them, but any physician that acted that way would be immediately fired, plus the physicians on the show never refer-out or utilize specialists, they're experts in everything. Grey's Anatomy has turned into a soap opera. ER was good for the first season or two, but then became more of a drama than a medical show. If you want a realistic medical show, something like Trauma: Life in the ER would probably be your best bet.
     
  14. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    I really should know what field of medicine I want to go into at the beginning of med school...

    Fact:

    College freshmen generally change their minds multiple times before settling on a major. Medical students are the same way. You might show up day 1 with an idea but you will be exposed to many different things along the way and something will probably click in your 3rd year when you start your clinical rotations. You really don't have to figure it out until you're applying for residency at the beginning of your 4th year.
     
  15. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    If I go to med school, I'll get into SO much debt I'll never be able to crawl my way outta that hole.

    Fact:
    Med school, while expensive does (eventually) lead to a high paying job. There are scholarships that will pay for your medical school (such as the military), but even if you don't take those options, very few physicians are unable to pay off their loans.
     
  16. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    If I go into something like Family Medicine or Pediatrics I'll NEVER be able to pay off my med school loans!

    Fact:
    While primary care specialties (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics) are traditionally lower paying than other medical specialties, the average income for a practicing physician is still somewhere over $100k and probably closer to $150k. It may not be the ideal scenario if you're trying to buy your first house, raise children and dig yourself out from $250k of debt, but it is manageable.
     
  17. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    My parents "want me to"/"are making me" is an ok reason to go into medicine.

    Facts:
    The amount of effort involved in medical school and residency is enormous and requires substantial dedication. To get through this you will need to be pursuing something that will make you happy, not your parents. If you're feeling pressured into a career that you aren't interested in, you need to have a discussion with your parents. They need to see you as an adult and recognize this decision as one you are making as an adult. Remember, you are the one that has to be happy with the career you choose, not them (they should come around, though)
     
  18. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    You can't have a family and be a doctor/pharmacist/dentist/etc.

    Fact:
    Like pregnancy, the difficulty of professional school does not fall on your lap all at once. There is a natural progression in difficulty from lower division courses to upper-division courses to the professional courses. If you pick up good study habits and time management skills early, the inreasing difficulty can be mitigated. This can allow for time to socialize, marry, and/or take time out to spend with children. While it is more difficult to do with a family, it is certainly not impossible, and in the end it may be more advantageous. (Assuming paying for your kids college while you're 50 with 15 years to retirement is less of a burden than doing so at 60 with 5 years to go.)

    Thanks to Farmercyst for contributing this response.
     
  19. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    Myth:
    All doctors make over $200K a year with many doctors making millions of dollars.

    Facts:
    While many specialists do make over $200k, the average family physician makes $155k. Is it possible to make millions? It has probably been done, but these would be the exceptional cases.

    Where does the money you're getting go?

    Readers Digest cites a nice breakdown of the expenses:
    side note: you'd be lucky to get reimbursed $100 from an insurance company, Medicare pays roughly $86 for an office visit.
     

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