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I'm certain I don't want to do clinical medicine,now what?ANY advice welcome

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by pufftissue, May 12, 2007.

  1. pufftissue

    pufftissue Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    Hi guys,

    It's pretty sad, but I'm just now realizing that I became a doctor primarily because of family expectations.

    I finished an internal medicine residency, and I hate primary care. I am certain that I want to leave clinical medicine, but I don't know what else to do with my life. This is also not a mood swing as I've gotten comments from people that while I can do a decent job as a doctor, I clearly don't seem happy.

    My interests are in consumer technology, i.e., gadgets.
    My passion is in helping the working poor. I very much believe in helping the underdog, especially outside of America or in minority populations in America.

    What I realized that I truly dislike about primary care is:
    1. Demanding patients
    2. Paperwork
    3. Lack of control over schedule
    4. Being on call

    I realized that I simply do not have the personality to speak to, comfort, and be patient day in and day out without completely draining myself and feeling abused. I simply need my own life back. I still want to help people, but indirectly.

    I am absolutely certain that I seeing patients more than 10% of the time will be too much for me. What are my options now?

    Any advice, bad or good, or abuse, would be appreciated. Someone give me a future.
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  3. Shredder

    Shredder User 5+ Year Member

    Dec 14, 2004
    Common complaint I think, whether ppl vocalize it or not. What made you decide on that residency in the first place+why not ditch it sooner? I thought after 1 yr it there were opportunities in other fields like rads or gas. Just wondering. Don't mind me too much I'm only a lowly first year. But mainly how did it take so long to come to that realization is what comes to my mind
  4. lunamoth8


    Oct 16, 2006
    To the OP:

    You are not alone in this boat. I have 2 family friends who completed med school and at least part of residency before each realized that he/she did not enjoy patient care. The first finished a year of FP residency and went on to a position at Goldman Sachs doing health care related banking. The second completed her peds residency and currently works for the CDC in Atlanta doing epidemiology research. On an anesthesiology rotation, one attending mentioned to me that his son opted to do an MBA during his surgical residency "research years," and decided to leave his program for a consulting position at McKinsey.

    I'm not sure if any of these fields appeal to you, but these are just a few options that are available.
  5. pillowhead

    pillowhead Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 25, 2002
    Definitely check out stuff with the CDC like EIS and other things. My father in law works for the CDC and he's always saying how hard it is to recruit physicians to work for them. It's a slight pay cut, but it's truly a federal government work--40 hours a week.
  6. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    You are definitely not alone - I've also known people who have left medicine, both during residency and after. Interestingly, mostly for a career in business.

    Of course, you could choose a different specialty, one without much patient contact or call. That would necessitate repeating a residency and it sounds as if you have decided that medicine, in any form, is not for you.

    Or perhaps a career in academic medicine is for you - there are positions, especially as department chair or program director, in which you limit your clinical activities and replace them with administrative duties.

    The trade journals often run ads looking for physicians to work in industry - often pharma, or with the CDC, NIH, NCI, etc. And I agree that organizations like the CDC and DWB often have trouble finding someone willing to devote their career to them.

    Perhaps going back to school and getting an MPH will also open new avenues for you and your interest in helping the underserved.

    I"m sorry you've found yourself in this position, especially after having going through so much. But it is possible to start over, or at least head down another path.
  7. tibor75

    tibor75 Member 5+ Year Member

    May 11, 2006

    This reminds me of a Wonder Years episode where Kevin is complaining to his Dad that his after-school job isn't fun.
    And the Dad exploding saying that Work isn't supposed to be fun. :laugh:

    What about being a hospitalist? The demands of the patient are less since your only goal is to get them out of the hospital. You have complete control of your schedule (well, in theory at least). And you're not on call. You're just working.

    And if you don't care about bieng paid less, you can work less. Work for 1-2 weeks and then go on "vacation" for 2 weeks and recharge your batteries.
  8. Hard24Get

    Hard24Get The black sleepymed 7+ Year Member

    My thoughts are - how about working for a medical technology company like Medtronic, Boston Scientific, or Ethicon? They also have a large degree of charitable activities, so you could get involved in helping the less fortunate that way, as well. You could also do charity work on the side, say spending that 10% of your time at a free clinic, which you might find more rwarding than what you are doing now.

    As a hospitalist in an academic place, you will have to do very little of the paperwork....
  9. Bitsy3221

    Bitsy3221 5+ Year Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    The Hub
    Ha! I remember that Wonder Years episode....

    I don't know how keen you are on going back for MORE schooling, but as previous posters mentioned, getting an MBA or MPH combined with your MD degree could certainly put you on the path to develop your very admireable passion of helping the working poor. Also, a degree in Public Policy may be of interest to you--often these programs have many options but combine business, law, economics, public health, etc. and could be of great help to you in your work with the poor.

    As far as how to incorporate consumer technology? Hmmm....can't help you there, but now I want to go to Best Buy.
  10. pufftissue

    pufftissue Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    Thank you for your kind words. I REALLY appreciate it. I somehow feel better just knowing that others are out there who feel like I do.

    My main struggle is that I don't know what I want anymore. Specifically, I think MDs who do not practice are typically viewed as "cop-outs" or not strong enough to handle the pressure, or not even real MDs. Or Sell-outs. I will tell you that bothers me. Even with my parents might feel that way, and I think it's not unreasonable to care what your parents think, even at our age.

    I also wonder if what I am experiencing is just burn-out and nothing more than that. A long vacation could fix things. I've also wondwered if I just have some personality defect where I want near total-independence and where I want everyone I meet to be nice. I have also pondered whether I am just afraid to listen to my own inner voice b/c of the years of "conditioning" (both external and internal) that I need to be a doctor. I liken it sort of to the matrix, where you suspect another world exists that could make you happy, but you're just not sure. I do not know if it's just a case of the grass being greener on the other side...until you actually get to the other side. Because the wildcard in every job is who you work with. If I left clinical medicine b/c of bad patients and paperwork, I'm sure there might be a bad apple or bad boss to work with, or some other substitute to bring me similar stress.

    Is it even "OK" to dislike being a doctor? And how do I know if I truly dislike being a doctor. Am I lying to myself?

    I realize I've said nothing new, hehe. But I did talk to a superior where I work and informed them that I'm strongly thinking about stepping down....I feel so good and free....but is the freedom from just having to work at this particular job and having a vacation, or is the freedom I'm feeling the kind from being able to do what you were made to do, even if you don't know what it is :>
  11. supercut

    supercut Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 19, 2003
    I totally hear you. I too have become increasingly disgruntled with medicine. I"m a surgery resident, PGY 3, and after being miserable all year resigned my position. Fortunately I live in a city in which moonlighting opportinuties are plentiful, and relatviely lucrative, so I'll be working taking call for admitted surgical patients several nights a week next year. The work is relatively easy and pays pretty good. I've told everyone that I'm switching to anesthesia, but honestly I don't want to be a doctor anymore and if I could figure out something else to do that would pay well enough to handle my large student loan burden, I'd probably get out of medicine altogether. Most of the same issues you address are the things I'm unhappy with...demanding pts, demanding families, paperwork, followup, trying to anticipate all the stupid things pts will do and tell them not to do it, defensive medicine...etc.

    You are not alone. I'm convinced that many more people than anybody realizes stays in medicine out of inertia or feeling trapped.

    I have about 6 weeks to go before I"m done with being a surgery resident. Every day I dread coming into work more and more and I feel like I'm just trying to survive till the end.

    You are NOT alone....medicine is not for everyone. Unfortunately, there is no way to get a feel for what it's really like until you have spent considerable time and money on pursing the career.
  12. EtOHWithdrawal

    EtOHWithdrawal 2+ Year Member

    Sep 27, 2006
    Just finishing a prelim med year... I can relate to the previous posters as well. For what it's worth, I decided that the IDEA of medicine is appealing , but the actual practice blows...
    I knew it was over for me when I spent 2 hours on the phone with an insurance company trying to figure out which medicines my terminal cancer patient could get (after all my scripts were denied when I discharged her to hospice at home). Here is a lady in extreme pain, couldn't get any meds, because the hospital formulary and what her insurance would cover were two very different things.
    I chose to go through the match again and I have now matched Pathology. I think it will suit, because the science behind medicine is interesting, drug reps and insurance agents are not. They get the :thumbdown:
  13. Miami_med

    Miami_med Moving Far Away Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    I think that a lot of people have that "personality defect."
  14. radonc

    radonc Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2002
    if you have the desire and personality, you dont need to do another degree to get a job in business (consulting, r&d, banking). your MD speaks for itself. it is worth much more than an MBA...and the fact you completed a residency (and hopefully will become board certified) is a definite advantage over other MD's who seek a career change.

    i would cold call companies (big & small) in whatever field you are interested in. setup meetings with them if time permits. they would be more than willing to help you. get in touch with your alumni association (college) for contacts. talk to friends, friends of friends, and friends of relatives.

    there is a job out there for you.
  15. McGillGrad

    McGillGrad Building Mind and Body 10+ Year Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Just make sure that you can actually be happy with a different career before leaving medicine. You may not have the ability.

    Do you have any hobbies that give you pleasure?
  16. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Some thoughts here -- I'm just a lowly first year med student so have nothing to say about medicine in general, but I did leave a profession I hated (law) and went through a lot of the same self doubt. About the cop-out thing, screw it -- it's your job in life to do what you can to not be miserable. You can't care about whether or not other people think you're weak. Doing something just because it's hard isn't a good reason to do it. Also, a lot of the people who are going to be critical of you for getting out are just hiding their unhappiness with their own jobs/lives.

    As for the burnout, address that, but it sounds like you've put in a lot of time and effort in medicine, so your thoughts now might very well be valid and not just because you're tired. You've got to reach a point where you make a decision and stop second guessing yourself. You know what's right for you -- nobody else can really bring any insight there.

    Is it OK to dislike being a doctor? Yes, it's OK. :) If anybody tells you it's not OK, they're full of ****, and again they're probably those same people who are just in denial about their own unhappiness.

    Anyway, good luck! It sounds like there are lots of good options out there where you can do some good and not hate your job. :luck:

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