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How did you know medicine was the right field for you?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by whamthankyoumam, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. whamthankyoumam

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    Hey everyone.

    I studied economics in college and am thinking about going the post-bac route to medical school. I'm not sure, however, if medicine is the right field for me. I'm interested in some of the science (bio and physics; i don't like chem) and I think actually practicing and interacting with patients would be kind of cool. I'm also pretty sure I'm capable of handling the material if I applied myself, too, though math and science aren't my strengths. That said, I'd really rather be studying something less profitable (and risky), like Middle Eastern history or something. I see medicine as a ticket to a comfortable life, doing something I can at least tolerate.

    So I guess what I'm wondering is, what motivated you to study medicine? In a perfect world, would you still choose to study medicine? How does a person even know if medicine is the right field for them?

    Thanks, I'd appreciate any insights.
     
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  3. sirus_virus

    sirus_virus nonsense poster

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    If you don't mind getting sued every now and then, and being sleep deprived then medicine might be a good fit. BTW, the jury is still out on the how much "comfort" you could acheive as a dcotor.
     
  4. Ashers

    Ashers Bacteria? Don't exist.
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    My dad told me, "If there's anything else that you could do that would make you happy, don't go into medicine, however, if medicine is the only thing that will make you happy, by all means, go to med school."

    I shadowed doctors, looked at the classes I liked in college and decided that I wanted to medicine after saying for all of my life I didn't want to (until my senior year of college). I can't see myself doing anything else. My dad's a doctor and my mom's a nurse -- my dad didn't discourage or encourage me, my mom sorta encouraged me, but only so I wouldn't not take a physic lab because it wasn't required for my major, so I wouldn't close any doors. Once I decided to go into med school, my dad encouraged me, but not the initial decision.

    Though, I guess my dream job would to be a trainer for Shamu (as long as Shamu doesn't attack me), or something where I could swim and play with whales and dolphins.
     
  5. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member

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    I don't think that financial comfort is a good reason to choose medicine by itself. If you don't enjoy what you do everyday, and work in a proffession that usually requires >40 hours per week of that work, you'll probably be miserable even if you are financially comfortable. I'm not saying it shouldn't come into the equation, like if choosing amongst multiple things that you think you would enjoy doing for the rest of your life, but definitely shouldn't be your primary motivator.

    I chose medicine because I am intelectually stimulated by the science, I am a "people person" so I really enjoy the patient and collegue interactions inherent to being a physician, I like the fact that you can choose a field that is fast paced and constantly changing, I like the fact that the routine will always be a bit different each day as you are presented with different challenges and different patients, and I like the fact that I will be financially comfortable while helping people (as I've found that jobs that have larger financial benefits don't tend to also benefit society as a whole). I also like the fact that by being a part of the system I might be able to exert some influence to improve it. I also like the fact that I have a skill that will alow me to donate my time to improve the lives of those who can't afford my time otherwise. All of these things together added up to a decision for me.

    I suggest you shadow doctors in different types of practices (private hospital/private practice/academics . . . ) in different fields and keep track of the things that you like about their day and the things that you hate. In the end you can look at this list and decide if you think you could be happy doing this for the rest of your life. Sure being less well off can make you unhappy but having a job that makes you miserable will too.
     
  6. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    My dream job would be to own a ridiculously nice sailboat (like a Beneteau 57), rent it out for charters while my hot wife and I crew the vessel doing the actual sailing, cooking, maintaining fishing and scuba equipment, etc.

    However, I didn't have enough capital for this plan.

    So now instead of sailing I am studying the renal system.

    Medical school is a long, hard slog (and this is my perspective from what many say is the easiest part of medical training, except perhaps for 4th year). And at the end there's residency, which is a long, hard, slog.

    I enjoy pt contact (as per being an EMT) and have the skill set to pull through, but if there was anything else I could think of that would make me happy and allow me to eat, that's what I'd be doing. No question.

    The worst thing you could do would be to start medical school uncertain about whether you want to do medicine, because once you start second term you might already be $50k in the hole and have too much debt to consider doing anything else.
     
  7. -Goose-

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    I share your dream. Only not a beneteau... more like a Hinckley. :laugh:

    Seriously, I'd be more than happy with an ol' junker thats fixed up right and has enough sleeping room for my fam.

    Thats all I need.
     
  8. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Agree with the others. From what I read in your post, you probably shouldn't be applying to medicine at this juncture. If you are more interested in things like physics, Mid Eastern history etc, then do not go to med school. Those who "see medicine as a ticket to a comfortable life" either will decide it's not worth it when they understand the true impact of the 4 years of schooling followed by 3+ years of training ahead of them and ultimately scrub this mission, or else muddle through it endlessly bored, bitter and whining. Medicine is a very hard road, and you can expect to have to spend extraordinarilly long hours and devote a substantial portion of your life to it for the rest of your working life. If you don't enjoy what you do, a decent paycheck in your bank account isn't going to motivate you to get out of bed each monday morning. It's hard to convey this to folks who really haven't worked before, but happiness at your job is more important than a few extra bucks in the long run.
    Also medicine, although very decently salaried, is not quite as rich a career as it was in days past, so you can generally expect to work longer hours for less pay than the prior generation.
     
  9. Critical Mass

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    I'm really only doing it to pay off my student loans which were too high coming out of grad school to be able to pay off with my previous career.

    I plan to practice for a couple of years and then move on to something else. So to answer your question, it's not right for me; nor is it right for a pretty significant chunk of my class.
     
  10. lilnoelle

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    This is me as well. Add to the fact that I want to contribute substantially to a community and value being in a respectful field. (yes, respect isn't like it used to be in medicine, but it is still there)

    There are tons of other things I'm interested in and that could potentially have made a more exciting career and perhaps I should have pursued a few of them before jumping into medicine, but it seems most of those careers are so uncertain i.e. I like art, I can get the degree but am unlikely to end up surviving purely as an artist. Doctors, while there is currently some uncertainty in the profession, are unlikely to be without a job and will probably always be able to provide sufficiently for their family.
     
  11. lilnoelle

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    Are you being serious?
     
  12. ForbiddenComma

    ForbiddenComma Tanned for Bowling

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    I think I decided to get into this because I enjoy debt, and want to see how much I can accumulate in a four-year span.

    I also hated feeling like I actually knew stuff, and wanted grumpy old farts to make me look like an idiot every week.

    And then there is the whole "sleep" habit that I was trying to kick.

    Also, paperwork gets me aroused. Filling out medicaid forms will become my new love life.

    Well golly... I can't narrow it down to one reason! :D
     
  13. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    You left out all the hanging out with diseased and dead people.
     
  14. OncoCaP

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    You're losing your edge, Law2Doc ... med school will do that to you. Here I corrected your comment:

     
  15. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    I love the classic lines found on Hinckleys.

    My more realistic plan is to have a seaworthy 30-40' that I can sail with the family when I have some time off, make overnight trips, etc. Then when I retire, sell everything, upgrade to a 50' and spend a couple of years doing circumnavigations of the caribbean. Maybe work summers as an EM attending in Maine.

    Ok, maybe the relalistic part ended after the first sentence.
     
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  17. -Goose-

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    We are definitely on the same wavelength. We should do a timeshare.:idea:

    Would probably work out best for you, if you go into EM at ~40 hrs/wk vs my surgery schedule of 60+/wk. lol.

    Back to glycogenolysis. :(
     
  18. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I know a lawyer who practiced law out of a large sail boat -- had the whole cabin made into an office. It probably wouldn't be too hard to have one made into a floating OR.:laugh:
     
  19. Dakota

    Dakota Senior Member
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    Bring neurosurgery straight to the underserved! Now if we could just stop the rocking . . .
     
  20. cfdavid

    cfdavid Banned
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    I'm usually very encouraging and supportive of others (especially people with "non-trad" backgrounds- I was a finance major and worked for 9 yrs prior to med school), but it really doesn't sound like you're all that taken by medicine. Personally, while the basic sciences don't make the doctor, you should at least be someone that has intellectual curiosity w/r/t the sciences and how they apply clinically. That's just my opinion.

    I've reflected on why I am enjoying (so far... I'm just an MS1) med school. And, I think one of the big reasons for that is that I love to learn how stuff works relative to the body and science. That makes it so much "easier", because whether you like it or not, you're going to have to learn it during the first two years of med school.

    That being said, I'm not someone that views medicine as some sort of spiritual calling. If one does, good for them. But, it's not necessary in my opinion. Nor is loving the first two years of med school really all that necessary in the scheme of things.

    But, it sounds like you need to do some more thinking on this issue. There are many other routes you could take that will be easier, take less time and money, yet will still provide you with a good life and financial and job security, within the healthcare field. Examples are advanced practice nursing, PA's, or anesthesia assistants. So, perhaps you could consider those.
     
  21. LJDHC05

    LJDHC05 Former Chicken Slayer

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    At one point I was damned sure it was right for me. Now I go through daily-weekly cycles of doubt, but ~$60k and 7 months of pre-clinical drudgery into it, I'm too broke to do much else. Don't waste your money unless you're sure or you'll be screwed. The idea of practicing medicine rocks and the meager glimpses of patients that I've gotten have been enjoyable (if you like taking histories in a peds office), but getting to that point sucks the life out of you.

    back to the physio/biochem pre-exam grind now.
     
  22. peppy

    peppy Senior Member

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    The usual:
    A loved one's illness made a profound impact on me.
    I've always been interested in science and health issues.
    I'm an idealistic type and enjoy trying to help people.
    I enjoy being the "expert" on a particular topic and having leadership roles (hence, the main reason I decided not to go into nursing instead)

    So far, I'm pretty happy. All jobs have tedious moments sooner or later, but I think medicine is a good career because it fits into what I actually find interesting. The key is to get some exposure to what being a doctor is TRULY like (shadowing doctors and such) so you can decide if you enjoy that sort of environment. I definitely do not think medicine is worth all the hassle just for the sake of money if your heart isn't truly in it. Heck, there are easier ways to make good money. For example, dentists make about the same amount without having to suffer through residency. Nurses make quite good money without even having to get an advanced degree, and are never hurting for job prospects.

    Good luck!
     
  23. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon

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    Unfortunate as it is, you don't until you're at least an M3. Probably not even until you are a resident.

    I am open to other opinions on this issue, but I am strongly of the opinion that NO pre-med/life experience can adequately expose you to the field of medicine. 1000 hours as a nurse/RT/EMT/OR tech don't even cut it. Until you are in it, medicine is cloaked in glamour.
     
  24. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    While this is likely true, there are certain indicators that would suggest it is not right for the OP long before he gets to the rotation/residency stage. Not being interested in medicine (other than as a "ticket to a comfortable life"), or being more interested in something like middle eastern history, as the OP has suggested, are big. If you aren't even "cloaked in glamour" at the onset, then even the parts that aren't so bad are going to su<k.
     
  25. TheMightyAngus

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    Yeah. Maybe after postbac + med school + residency + fellowship + debt repayment then you start to glimpse the comfortable life. So about 15-20 years from now. Not really a ticket, more of a long circuitous route of burden and toil.

    If you can be happy doing something other than medicine, do it. Quick. Before the indoctrinating begins.
     
  26. GodoShingo

    GodoShingo Intern

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    Medicine has always interested me. I remember that ever since I was a child I wanted to become a doctor. I have had to choose between medicine and dentristry, but medicine seemed like a better choice as I would have more options. There are so many directions you can take as a doctor, only as a surgeon there are endless fields, like thorax, abdomen ect.
    Plus, you have the opportunity to do what you are interested in. If you like vaginas then you do gynaecology (spelling?). j/k.
    I am very interested in pacemakers for the moment, and thus I can be a pacemaker-surgeon if I want to.
    I also like to work hard, the more hard work, the more I enjoy it, because then I haven't wasted my time. I like to be occupied and have stuff to do.
    Then I want to be able to take vacations ect without having to worry about one month of lost salary.
     
  27. turkleton

    turkleton Capeless Crusader

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    Admit it... you're just a rabid anti-dentite bastard. :)
     
  28. Hoo\/er

    Hoo\/er if($profit){replicate();}

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    Your dad is absolutely right, too. People, DO NOT overlook this quote. It has more importance than you'll ever know.
     
  29. Tired Pigeon

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    There are easier ways to achieve a comfortable lifestyle. I can't imagine voluntarily going through all this crap if there was anything else I felt passionate about doing. For whatever reason, I just know medicine is my calling -- and believe me there are days I wish it wasn't.
     
  30. mjl1717

    mjl1717 Senior Member

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    when I was very young, say 4 or 5 years of age I urinated in a pediatricians face.. And I thought the only one who could take this is the doctor.. so I knew Id become a doctor!
     
  31. MarzMD

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    Couldnt have said it better.
     
  32. OncoCaP

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    I'm a pre-med; what would you say are characteristics of med students who seem to be more successful in that they suffer less or seem to have less regret for going into medicine, and *gasp* seem to enjoy themselves sometimes. Here are the kinds of things that I would expect:

    * Does not have idealistic notions of what a physician is and has checked out alternatives.

    * Willing to work very hard and efficiently for months on end and, at times "lives the job." Workaholism is a potentially good thing here. Perhaps knowing when to put the work aside and do something fun would also be important.

    * Has great stress coping and reduction skills, both for stress due to workload and stress due to stressful interactions with peers, instructors, and patients.

    * Very comfortable with delayed gratification. Unphased by friends who are living a good life while the med student is slaving away.

    Are these on the right track? Any others?
     
  33. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I think mainly show up expecting to put up with crap, being the low man on the totem pole, being made to feel like you know nothing, being yelled at for things that may not actually be your fault, being able to function in a sleep deprived status, and being able to let abuse roll off your back. The people who show up having been ego stroked throughout college and med school and told how great they are by friends, faculty and family tend to be the hardest hit when all that reverses. Similarly folks who have unrealistic expectations in terms of hours, post-school salary and the like often tend to feel the brunt of it.
     
  34. GodoShingo

    GodoShingo Intern

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    No, I'm rather a rabid rabbit anti-dentite special agent form the FBI specialised to keep people from being dentists, because we believe dentists are criminals.
    My name is Agent Rabbit. And I'm the best they've got.

    j/k
     
  35. mjl1717

    mjl1717 Senior Member

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    Oh Yes!! Ashere's Dad said something so true!! So daggone important and not recognized!!:)

    Also when I Listened to the once enthusiastic psyche guru- Barbara Fadem who published-- eg. BRS Behavioral and BRS psyche I believe at Kaplan.. One of the first things she said was "you dont go into this field for money but if you happen to make some $ along the way its OK" This is so true also!!

    Also the Surgeon at Kaplan was actually putting his reimbursement checks from insurance companies on the overhead projector.
    And he showed us one that totaled 0.01 $ [the class busted out in roar]
     
  36. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Medicine is probably an OK job once you finish residency. There has not been a day, however, in the last 20 months I have been slogging through it when I have not thought, at least once, how much I wished I had never got it in my head to go to medical school.

    The problem is that a lot of you have an idealized view of what's facing you. And I'm not talking about the goofy. "I want to hep'" stuff either which most of you are smart enough to realize will not sustain you for the next eight or more years but more how you look at the years of hard work you are facing.

    I know most of you are prepared for the hard work and long hours. What you don't realize is how pointless and redundant a lot of it is. I spent 30 hours starting Friday morning admiting patients, half of whom could have probably gone home for all we could do for them in the hospital and a good portion of the rest were so sick that all we are really doing is managing their death.

    Why on earth, for example, would you admit a demented, 90-year-old with an exacerbation of congestive heart failure (along with a page worth of medications and other conditions). That person needs to go home to die if the alternative is that we're going to save her for another six months of pseudo-life as an exhibit in some fly-blown nursing home.

    I'm on call again today (Friday-Sunday Call: The Worst Call Imaginable) and will be repeating this with lovely Thursday-Saturday call later this week. It blows. Why anybody would go into medicine, surgery, or any specialty with that kind of call escapes me.
     
  37. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Do yourself a favor, stick with economics. What being interested in science has to do with anything is beyond me. Everybody is interested in science which explains the popularity of the Discovery Channel. There is, however, a huge difference between laying on the couch watching television and exclaiming, "Gosh, that science stuff is cool," and sitting down to study the detailed minutia of proteoglycans. Nobody could possibly like that sort of thing.

    Interested in science. That's a hoot.
     
  38. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon

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    :thumbup:

    Plus medicine is not really science for the vast majority of providers. Clinical thinking is not the same as the scientific method.
     
  39. humuhumu

    humuhumu nukunuku apua'a

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    Interest in science certainly helps you make it through the first two years. I hear classmates say they couldn't care less about biochemistry, and I don't really relate. I think biochemistry is cool. Ion channels are amazing. Pharmacology is fascinating. Sure, I can get burned out, and some of the details seem unimportant, but in general I enjoy studying science and medicine every day. In contrast, my idea of hell would be law school or business school, because *those* are things I couldn't care less about.

    Science is the foundation of medicine. If you don't really like your science classes in college (especially upper level biology courses), I think that's a red flag.
     
  40. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Very true.

    On another note, the OP needs to find a teaching hospital and ask to shadow an internal medicine or a surgery resident for a few days. And I'm not talking about a few hours but all day and all night. I know I would never have gone to medical school if I had done that.

    Fortunately I am almost done with call forever. But it has been a long, often pointless two years.
     
  41. Doctor~Detroit

    Doctor~Detroit this poll sux!!!

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    i thought you were in em residency. you have to do call for em???
     
  42. humuhumu

    humuhumu nukunuku apua'a

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    Yeah, I often wonder what I'm going to think about call. I'm sure I won't like it, but will I hate it with every fiber of my being? Time will tell.
     
  43. yadayadadude

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    OP, I pretty much could have written your post myself a couple of years ago.

    I disagree with much of what's been said. (Med students sure do love to martyr themselves.) Personally, I'm a very happy M3 who:

    1. Can think of a million other jobs I'd probably also like,
    2. Doesn't really like science, and
    3. Thinks my career medicine will likely net me a comfortable life.

    I entered medical school feeling very unsure if medicine was for me. The first two years were A-OK ... I studied at home, excersized and slept well, pursued research and hobbies. Studying for Step 1 overwhelmingly sucked, but it only lasted six weeks. This year, my third year, I discovered that I really enjoy hanging out with patients. I also like the "puzzle solving" aspect of working up a new admit. I just came off my IM rotation and I absolutely LOVED it. So right now I'm planning to pursue one of the less intense IM subspecialties (endocrine, maybe). And I'll probably work part time someday. Sure, the hours in training can be long, and the paperwork is undeniably absurd, but ... overall, I'm happy. This was the right call for me.
     
  44. gujuDoc

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    The first part of your post, I can understand. You don't want to do anything you are not passionate about. However, don't ever ever ever call medicine a calling. nothing and I mean nothing is a calling. Medicine is not some calling, it is a job at the end of the day that pays the bills and that gets you through life. But if you after going through everything still are passionate for your job then you get my respect. Just don't use the word calling because no job is a calling in my opinion no matter how passionate you are about it.
     
  45. gujuDoc

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    He had a short stint of call in EM residency but mostly he was in another residency program in family or general practice for a year before going through the match process a second time to land his current residency position.
     
  46. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    I wonder if soldiers, or students who have been in the military tend to be the ones who do the best given the amount of abuse they take by superiors during training and in exercise.
     
  47. gujuDoc

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    Paging Panda Bear!!

    Panda's an ex military person and my understanding from his blog is he thinks that even military people are less abused then some malignant residency programs. Correct me if I'm wrong but that's what I got out of your humbling blog.
     
  48. Tired Pigeon

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    Actually, some people do have a calling. I imagine this is hard to understand if you feel you are doing something "that pays the bills and that gets you through life". Strange as it may sound to you, some of us have other (in some cases easier and more lucrative) options for paying the bills and getting through life, but we feel a strong sense of purpose about our pursuit of medicine as our profession. Just because this is not the case for you, please don't denigrate those of us for whom it is an important element of who we are.
     
  49. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member

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    Some definitions of a calling found at dictionary.com:
    I think many of us could use this term to adequately describe why we chose medicine. Alot of it for me was a gut feeling that this was how I could best positively impact the human community with my lifetime, which for me was a very strong prompting or inner urge to pursue medicine as a career, thus by definition a calling.
     
  50. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Correct. Most MD EM programs are three years with about one year of off-service rotations where one does call. I was a motard and am doing a repeat intern year so I am now in my 20th month of intern year...which explains my antipathy towards medical training.
     
  51. 8744

    8744 Guest

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    Other than boot camp, I was never abused as a Marine by anybody other than the enemy.
     
  52. humuhumu

    humuhumu nukunuku apua'a

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    Absolute statements can be hard to defend, young Padowan. Probably true that for many (if not most) doctors, medicine is not a calling, but there are exceptions, and I think I've met a few of them....
     

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