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In it for the money or the passion?

Discussion in 'Postbaccalaureate Programs' started by alEXatosu, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. Ok guys, I am currently doing a post bacc right now taking medical school classes, and everything is going well. However, I got to thinking when i found out about another profession--anesthesiology assistant, which is pretty much a PA in anesthesiology. I got to thinking because as I look at it right now, i won't graduate medical school for another 5 years (2 year post-bacc, 4 years med school). So I'll graduate at age 27. 3-5 years of residency puts me at 30-32, before I start making anything. My thing is I want to find the specialty that makes the most, works the least, and gives me the greatest sense of self-gratification possible, not necessarily in that order. I do value my personal time and personal life, and unless I'm really lucky I'll be working a lot after residency (Ideally, I would work 40-50 hrs). Additionally, I'll probably graduate with somewhere around 200,000 dollars in debt. I don't really want to think how long it will take to pay that off. I'm not thrilled about losing my 20's (our supposed golden, young, and fun years) to studying and being a nerd, while going out once every month. I can say I like medicine and have a definite interest, but I would not call it a passion.

    On the flip side there's the anesthesiology assistant. 2 years of training post college, and you're done, making (From my research on job posting boards) 120,000-160,000-not as much money as many doctors, but still a lot nonetheless. Plus you have normal 40 hr work weeks with overtime if you want. Normally, graduation would put you around 24. No residency, and making 6 figures in your low to mid 20's sounds pretty damn nice. You have debt but nearly as much as medical school. However, you dont have MD next to your name and you're an assistant to someone. Personally, I can't figure out if I would truly be unhappy being someone's assistant.

    Basically, I don't know what I want. I know I don't like school, and maybe the AA is a shortcut or an easy way out, but it has its advantages.
    One important question that I'm sure will be different for everyone: Which will lead to a better quality of life?? As a doctor, your life will most likely be dominated by your profession, while as an AA you have more personal time for your kids, wife, fun stuff, etc. I think one of the reasons I worry about this is that my parents worked all the time, made money, but I never saw them, and they weren't happy. Also, many doctors (not all) are saying not to go into medicine. That's enough, what do all of you guys think? Am I crazy and not thinking straight??
     
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  3. microgin

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    A few things...

    1) 27 is not old to be graduating med school. My best friend will be 30 upon graduation, and I know several people who won't even be entering med school by 27.

    2) You really seem fixated about the $$ aspect of things. This coupled with your statement that you don't want to be throwing away your 20's ("the supposed golden, young, and fun years"), and the fact that you don't like school, would lead me to advise you to forget about being a doctor and find another career path, like the anesthesiology assistant gig you mentioned.

    BTW, if you do decide to stick with medicine and actually go through the application/interview process, I would advise that you not respond to the commonly-asked question, "What medical specialty appeals to you at this time?" With "I want to find the specialty that makes the most, works the least, and gives me the greatest sense of self-gratification possible" - don't think that one will fly. :laugh:
     
  4. Sundarban1

    Sundarban1 Devil in disguise
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    Wow, life were just money and hours worked, than it would be oh so simple. There are checks and balances in every profession and stage of life. Think about it from a more realistic view point, what are your real responsibilities, what do PA's do? You're taking docs and NPs and patients orders all day!! Think of your 3rd year of medical school for the rest of your life. No thanks, no matter how much you pay me, I'd like to be the doc not the scut, thanks.
     
  5. Maxprime

    Maxprime Higgs chaser
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    I think that if there is any question in your mind, you shouldn't do it. It is NOT worth the pay - you'll have incredible debt to math your salary after you get paid squat to be a resident. If you don't want to get into it for the medicine, there are a number of other professions with better hours and pay.
     
  6. USArmyDoc

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    I am on the fence about the statement bolded above. I think it is totally normal to have doubts/questions in your mind. With that being said, I think the OP would be happier in a different profession. However, he could just be having a bad day. Good luck! :)
     
  7. queenbee

    queenbee Junior Member
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  8. Barfalamule

    Barfalamule Member
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    This is really the predicament of youth. When I was 17 years old, I said I wanted to be a doctor and I said this with dollar signs in my eyes. Money is such a driving force, but it can't really hold a candle to passion. Money is a quickfix, a rush, and that desire must be tempered with maturity and passion, especially in the field of medicine.
    My advice is take the easy route. I did. I went computer science and came out making a good salary. Within 3 years, I had a house, a new truck and was travelling the world. It took that long for money to lose its hold on me. I sold everything and I'm now spending it all on a postbacc. I want medical school because I feel it now. Money is still there, but it's background noise. Go the easy way and if it doesn't work out, you'll come back full circle to the decision when you are more mature and know what you want. If that passion is there, it'll bring you back. It did for me. I wouldn't change my journey for anything...well, maybe for gold, or perhaps cash money.

     
  9. Maxprime

    Maxprime Higgs chaser
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    HUGE +1
     
  10. crrchngr

    crrchngr Junior Member
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    Ok...so after reading all your posts...I feel ancient...

    I will be 29 in April and I am making the mother of all career changes. I have wanted to be a doctor since about age 7. I used to talk about it all the time and I wanted to take over my Aunt's OB practice when I graduated Med school.

    But...life happens. After I graduated high school, I joined the Navy. I spent 6 years working on ships, etc. I absolutely loved it, but med school has always been an idea on the back burner, especially since I got married and had a kid when I was still on active duty. Hubby and kid and I moved to upstate NY so he could finish his last duty station. I decided to go to school full time. I knew med school would be too challenging considering I had to work and raise a kid, so I fell back on Spanish. I had taken it all my life. I figured I could teach...that was a quick scheme and I needed to start making some kind of income ASAP.

    So...fast forward to today...I am a high school Spanish teacher with two kids and a husband who is stuck in a rut with a mediocre wage. When I thought about being in a high school Spanish classroom for the next 30-35 years, I got scared. Teaching is a labor of love, for sure...you definitely don't do it for the money. This is a job I like, not a job I know I would love and really want to do (plus I can provide more for my family).

    I firmed up my decision in the last few weeks to really get ready for med school...my first passion and, a relief in a lot of ways. I am seriously nervous about how much time it will take me away from my kids, my husband, etc. Plus I have to keep teaching until I get accepted since we need the $$. My undergrad DID NOT in the least prepare me for med school. I am having to take almost ALL of the required science classes and Calculus. :( But, I feel like I am up to the challenge and I have to agree and belive that the passion will come after the pain, as one of you mentioned.

    So, I will most likely be 31 or 32 when I start med school...I'll be finished paying back loans about the time I retire. I look at my age as a benefit, at least I have lived a little and I KNOW this is the right thing for me to do.

    So, if you read this whole post, thanks for letting me get on my soap box for a few minutes. Please tell me I am doing the right thing!!!

    Always,
    crrchngr
     
  11. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    If you check out the nontrad board, you will see that you are not nearly the oldest making this kind of jump. Also there are lots of schools that don't require calculus.
     
  12. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    I m in it for both. :thumbup:
     
  13. Febrifuge

    Febrifuge Grizzled Old Newcomer
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    "I got into medicine for the same four reasons everybody does -- chicks, money, power, and chicks..." --Dr. Cox, from Scrubs

    I'm a postbac at 35, and I don't consider myself old at all. I want to give a huge "hell YEAH!" to the person who said that the easy way leads around in a circle. That's exactly it. :thumbup:

    If you want money, go into sales or investments. If you want to work your butt off and get only about half the respect and glory you should, go into medicine. If you don't care about glory, and can live with only that sliver of respect you can actually earn from demanding, self-centered, competitive people like me, my classmates, and probably everyone here, consider PA. It's what I'm going to do.

    And no, it's not like 3rd year of med school forever. It's more like 3rd year of residency forever. Except the hours are much better. I think it's a nice balance between insanity and reward. It's practicing medicine, only without a lot of the stuff I'm too old to put up with anyway.
     
  14. run4boston

    run4boston formerly Run
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    Firstly, I know physicians who went into medicine with questions. And practicing physicians have questions about the future of medicine. So, I think it's OK to have questions about the future even when working on this goal. Somewhere along the line, you learn to love it and if you grow tired of it, you leave.

    But, money cannot be the SOLE reason for doing medicine. It doesn't make sense. There are so many ways of making money with much less stress and time away from doing the things you really enjoy doing.
     
  15. Dr Trek 1

    Dr Trek 1 Senior Member
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    What I've never understood is people thinking all doctors are rich. I mean, sure, they do well. But, the highest paid surgical specialty only averages about $150,000 per year. That's not even the top income tax bracket. Keep in mind that is before taxes, malpractice insraunce payments, and student loans. I don't know about you guys, but that comes to about $95,000 per year (we are talking surgery here- all other medical professions are less). That's not bad for someone single, but you can't exactly live a wealthy lifestyle if you are trying to raise a family on it.

    I have always wanted to have a lot of money, but always knew that medicine is not the way to do it. That is why I am planning on starting some companies (that have nothing to do with health care) as hobbies when I get older/retire and have time to make some real money.

    Medicine for me is all about the passion and the people, if I just wanted to make money- believe me I'd go into business. There is not enough money in medicine to make it worthwhile just for that.
     
  16. scpod

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    There are only thre accredited AA schools in the country. It is extremely competitive. What makes you think you could just waltz right in the door and get accepted? Plus, I believe it's less than 15 states now that actually license AA's. And...if you really think AA is working 40 hours a week and overtime if you want it, then you are sorely mistaken. I live in a state where AA's are licensed and I work part-time in a hospital where they work as well. They work there a$$es of from 5AM to 5PM (or later) at least 5 days a week, sometimes 6 days. The good part--they don't actually do call. Anesthisiologists do that. The rest of the good part-- they are paid well and have great benefits. That's about it.
     
  17. kittieruby

    kittieruby Member
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    haha. well said! :laugh:
     
  18. letsrun4it

    letsrun4it Member
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    Well I for one am not in it for the money, I sold my business for 1.4x million earlier this year so I am not going to need a large income for the rest of my life to be comfortable.

    Not really in it for the sole purpose of helping people, I simply think I'd enjoy it.
     
  19. gerido

    gerido Senior Member
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    Hi alEXatosu,

    Since you did such extensive research on AA, do you know what scope of their degree is? Also, are they recognized nationally in all 50 states? Thanks.
     
  20. Nalia B

    Nalia B Junior Member
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    Really? Do you want to throw about $50,000 my way for my post-bacc and living expenses? :D
     
  21. letsrun4it

    letsrun4it Member
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    in my younger days i would have asked if you were a hot chick with a big rack...
    but instead ill just say no
     
  22. UCIke

    UCIke Junior Member
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    Take some time and read this link to "USF Online Residency Handbook":

    http://hsc.usf.edu/medstud/resguide/residencyguide.htm

    Also, since you mentioned you valued your free time, focus on the "Lifestyle" section of each speciality. Personally, I found it particularly funny that the med student writer for the "Surgery" speciality began it with the words, "Nonexistent! If leisure time, hobbies, and sleep are important priorities in your life, perhaps general surgery is not the residency for you."

    At your age, which I am assuming 21-22 from your post, it's an impossible question to answer, because you haven't made a long-term commitment yet.
    Once you commited to something (marriage, raising a family, having a successful career, etc), this question will become easier to answer, because your newfound commitment will outline the goals in your life and reaching them will define happiness for you.

    Last but not least, I wanted to pass along something a mentor told me. This mentor is about 40-50 years older than me and has spent some time in academics (Ph.d in O-Chem). He told me that in academics, as well as life itself, "Aim high, try your best, and then see where you fall. And don't worry, you'll always land on your feet." I hope you use these words and apply them to your situation and the pursuit of your life goals.
     
  23. Nalia B

    Nalia B Junior Member
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    haha, I'm definitely a hot chick. But unfortunately it's not really my style to talk about the rest of my physical features. :p Guess I'll have to keep on working after all. Shucks!
     
  24. DblHelix

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    Where are you getting your statistics from? I'm not saying all doctors are rich but I know for a fact that the highest paid surgeons are making a TON more than $150,000. Hell, most primary care docs are making in the $100K range. I'm not saying money should be the only factor for going into medicine but your estimates are WAY too low. I'm getting my facts from not only my own experiences with physicians but SDN's statistics, too.
     
  25. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    Yea i know docs making a million plus. My boss was a neurosurgeon making 2 mill a year.
     
  26. LaMigra

    LaMigra Junior Member
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    Why on earth would you bother with becoming an AA when it sounds like you are limited to where you can practice? I would think the better route would be a nurse anesthetist. They make six figures, you just gotta become a nurse, spend a year in ICU, and then apply to a program.
     
  27. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Bear in mind that medicine is a changing field, and folks a generation or more ahead of people entering schools now got in when the getting was good. Salaries and successes are very different today. Still good, but not to that extent. No one going into medicine now is likely to repeat the success of those your "boss"s (or, elsewhere on SDN "parent"s or "uncle"s) age. Look to folks just finishing residency NOW as the best examples of where you can realistically end up, and then maybe shave off a percent or two given that medical salaries are not rising to keep pace with inflation in the current economy. And also bear in mind that only a small percentage of every med school class gets to choose to go into the most competitive fields, so don't bank on that either. Good luck.
     
  28. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    I know cardiologists, pulmonologists, and GI docs making a mill plus right now. I know a few FPs and IMs making 500+. They have said that their salaries have been going down over time.
     
  29. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    again, look to the generation -- if they didn't finish residency in the last couple of years, their numbers won't be reflective of your potential -- times were different when they entered the profession and it's now improbable that you anyone can mirror that kind of success.
     
  30. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    Why do you believe that? Do you believe it is tougher to establish a practice now than it was in the past?
     
  31. Trismegistus4

    Trismegistus4 Worried Wellologist
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    I see this stated so much, I wish there were a sticky around here somewhere making it clear this is not the case.

    From http://www.allied-physicians.com/salary_surveys/physician-salaries.htm :
    Malpractice insurance is considered a business expense. In general, when you see income statistics, the incomes you're looking at are before taxes but after all expenses (malpratice insurance, office staff pay, office rent, supplies, office utility bills, etc.) In other words, if a particular doc says he "makes" $180k per year, that's the equivalent of somebody working for a company saying their salary is $180k per year. That's what appears as the gross figure on his personal W2. Personal expenses like taxes and student loan payments haven't been considered yet, true, but business expenses like malpractice insurance have.
     
  32. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    yes - It's nearly impossible to get to that level of income in these days of PCPs and reimbursements (unless you can get yourself regularly featured on Dr 90210 or something). talk to folks finishing up their residencies and they will give you the real deal. those days are basically over. But the current levels of income are still pretty comfortable for most.
     
  33. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    Is it an issue of reimbursements or the difficulty of establishing a thriving practice? Because these docs were making this money now, but they have had established practices for many many years.
     
  34. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    It's a combo. Start-up barriers are more significant with HMOs regulating the flow of patients and their ultimate payments. But a lot of it is also that no practices are paying newbies that much anymore.
     
  35. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    What about after a few years of practice? Or perhaps starting your own solo practice?
     
  36. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    You are simply unlikely to reach those levels (ever) these days. You really need to find someone who has more recently finished residency and talk to them if this is a real concern for you.
     
  37. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    Its not a concern to me, I would still go into medicine no matter what pay I received. I m just curious what the future holds for the medical field.
     
  38. letsrun4it

    letsrun4it Member
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    I find it hilarious those who think setting up their own practice will make them millionaires and is their path to riches.

    A practice is nearly a business, and there are 1000 easy businesses to run than a medical clinic. Seriously, anyone in it for the money, or who wouldn't do it if not for the money, needs to look into the business world. Making big money is just not that difficult.
     
  39. Dr Trek 1

    Dr Trek 1 Senior Member
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    Agreed! I want to make big, big money but realize that will not happen just from my medical career. Although it's possible to in other medical fields, I want to be an ER doc in a busy, poor city ER that gets all the good cases- hardly where the money is.
    That is why I am already getting involved in businesses, that have nothing to do with medicine, because I know it's the best way to make big money. My medical aspiration is purely because I love medicine. If I just wanted money, I'd go into business full time.
     
  40. americanpierg

    americanpierg Senior Member
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    Why do you keep feeding yourself this crap? 90% of all business fails within its first year. A health care practice ranks in the top like 5% in successful businesses. There are not "many, many jobs" out there that makes more money than a physician while providing the job security that a physician receives. Of course people enter the field for the money. Most people, no matter what they say, dont enjoy working 60 hours a week and being called to come to work at 3 in the morning. Theres a reason why people bother to go through 11 years of post secondary education and are willing to take up hundreds of thosuands of dollars in debt. If physicians made 30,000 a year, considering the lifestyle doctors have, no one would be willing to go into the field.
    Also sure you can go into business, but by doing so you're leaving it all to luck on whether you succeed or not.
     
  41. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    You wont likely make millions as a doc, but there are those that do. You ll definitely make a comfortable amount. If all I cared was about money I would just work with my dad as a contractor.
     
  42. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Again, the ceiling is much lower now for newer entrants. Folks going into medicine today will not make millions, period. (unless they somehow combine medicine with a more lucrative media, like being on TV or writing books, or invest their savings in unrelated successful ventures).
     
  43. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    We ll see :confused:
     
  44. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    No doubt. But I still encourage you to talk to physicians of recent vintage. Way too many people make poor decisions and end up unhappy because they have an inaccurate picture of the future.
     
  45. DropkickMurphy

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    That's why I plan on getting into healthcare administration eventually.....good money :thumbup:
     
  46. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    Yea your right. I would still go into medicine even if salaries are going down. I could be making 400k to 500k right now if i just went into construction with my dad.
     
  47. Dr Trek 1

    Dr Trek 1 Senior Member
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    I am in the exact same boat as you! My dad is the same way, wants me to work for him in construction, i.e. building and running adult homes. That sure is where the money is these days :laugh:
     
  48. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
    10+ Year Member

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    :laugh:
     
  49. The_Sensei

    The_Sensei Membership Revoked
    Removed

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    B U L L S H I T .............
     
  50. Dr Trek 1

    Dr Trek 1 Senior Member
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    Well... looks like we now know someone's primary motivation for going into medicine... :p
     
  51. Touchdown

    Touchdown Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

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    If you want money that becoming a doctor is NOT for you, you could easily make as much/more in many business fields without the expense of medical school, and without living like a pauper/"loosing" your earning potential for almost ten years (medical school and residency).

    Finally, I cant help but comment that medical schools despise candidates that only want money and most interviewers can sniff you guys out, this is on the post-bac board so I can only assume all of you have mentioned money as your primary motivation have already have failed once. I suggest you reevaluate your career options.
     

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