SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

Is Anyone Happy at the End?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by biomama, May 17, 2007.

  1. biomama

    biomama biomama 5+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    this is my first time posting, i've been a long-time lurker....:(
    but it seems that the common theme between years 1 through 3 is bitterness & a general sense of unhappiness. i start school this fall and was wondering if anyone after step 1 & yrs 1-3 are sincerely happy with their decision to pursue medicine. i understand that once you start, the investment of time and money for many is too great to quit, but is anyone sincerely happy? or should i basically be expecting 7+ years of misery?
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. doctorp82

    doctorp82 Palpating preschoolers 2+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2006
    I'm 2 weeks and two days from step 1, have zero social life.
    Finished a whirlwind 2nd year that was like drinking from an open firehose.
    Looking at third year when I'll be working most all the time for some rotations (surgery?).

    Do I regret it?

    No, not when patients I talk with are cheered by me simply asking what their kids do.
    No, not when friends and family confide health concerns to me, like my 17 year old cousin with lupus who says she loves me because I understand.
    No, not when pre-meds I know consider me their role model.

    The only thing I regret is not being able to do more than I can now. The first two years will suck at times. They are the most difficult because there's so much learning to be done with mostly no reward other than a passing grade. Burnout is mostly due to lack of resting and recharging yourself, and you have to make the time for that yourself. Medicine (at least as far as two years for me) will take as much energy as you can throw at it and still not be satiated. From what people tell me, it's no better the farther you go. Most 3rd years I know are happier than they were during 2nd year, so that's encouragement to me, and the happy ones are ones I know make time to step out of their medical lives and do something else; see people, read a book, work on a hobby, etc. There's a difference between being busy staring at a book for 12 hours a day and being busy rounding on and talking with patients and colleages for 12 hours a day. I'd definately want the latter.
  4. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    If you go into it with a good idea of what the reality of the practice of medicine is you will be fine. If you go in with notions of it being like TV or the same field the prior generation of doctors was in or a path to great wealth, or one where you are saving all your patients lives and they will be loving you for it, you may be disappointed. The truth of the matter is its a path of long hours for many years to get into a field that isn't exactly what everyone imagines. But if you already have a sense of the downside and have opted to proceed anyhow, then it's pretty much what you've bargained for and you have no reason to be unhappy.
  5. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch 10+ Year Member

    Nov 1, 2003
    Yeah, it's a firehose, but a firehose of sweet sweet wine. I just finished my last final of M2 and I'm loving every minute. OK, the exams are, um, low points, but tonight my band is playing at the end of year celebration, we're all feeling loose and it's going to be a ball.

    It's all the attitude you take into it, I think.
  6. Bertelman

    Bertelman Maverick! 7+ Year Member

    Feb 11, 2006
    Had a Cooch
    I'm about to walk across the stage, and couldn't be happier. Remember that the disillusioned and bitter tend to be more vocal.
  7. SeventhSon

    SeventhSon SIMMER DOWN 7+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2005
    San Diego
    I think the only way to be truly happy in the first 2 years is if you are able to truly enjoy learning things for no other purpose besides loving to learn things, even without any forseeable benefit.
  8. chocolate-e

    chocolate-e Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 17, 2002
    No need to expect 7+ years of misery. I'm only two years in, but the first one was virtually misery-free (at least as far as school was related). The second definitely had its moments of burnout and apathy, but lots of good memories too ... maybe I'm just getting sentimental because it's almost over. I still feel lucky to be here, and more certain than ever that medical school was the right choice for me. Hopefully 3rd year won't kill that ...
  9. doctorp82

    doctorp82 Palpating preschoolers 2+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2006
    Everyone who's gone all four all tell me that 2nd year is the hardest. It's the most work for the least rewarding return, which is the stressful part. Being done with that, I'd far rather be busy seeing patients and talking to people than locked in a chair with a computer and books all day long.
  10. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I'm happy (although just finishing M1, so who knows from here on out). I really like school and am excited to be that much closer to my goal. First year went so fast I'm beginning to believe that med school will be over before I know it and I'll be a physician, again that much closer to my goal. I'm sure residency will be rough, but I'll deal with that when I get there.
  11. velo

    velo bottom of the food chain 5+ Year Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    People just like to bitch, especially on an anonymous internet message board where no one can say to their face what a whinny little pansy they're being.

    Medicine is just a lot of work...but you knew that already right?
  12. velo

    velo bottom of the food chain 5+ Year Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    what are you talking about? 2nd year was great, you learn a ton and since its all classroom work you basically set your own schedule. Not feelin' it one week? Slack off and catch up later.

    And, I'm sorry, but 3rd year is the most work for the least rewarding return. You just haven't done enough rotations where you sit around doing mindless menial tasks, or often literally doing nothing, for hours on end for NO other reason than so you don't come across as a 'disinterested, unenthusiastic' student. The highs are high in third year, but its very inefficient learning, you slog through hours upon hours of wasted time to possibly be rewarded with a great 5 minute experience.
  13. Long Dong

    Long Dong My middle name is Duc. 10+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2004
    The Best Coast
    Word :thumbup:

    To the Op third year sucks arse. The rest was actually pretty fun and now that i'm done yes I'm sincerely happy/relieved. This might change in internship year but I'll be happy again when I'm actually doing what i love after internship.
  14. humuhumu

    humuhumu nukunuku apua'a 7+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2005
    I've shadowed doctors in many different specialties (pediatrics, family practice, cardiothoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, GI surgery, pathology, neurology, pediatric neurology, pediatric ENT, pediatric cardiology, pediatric radiology, interventional radiology, interventional neuroradiology, pediatric neuroradiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, radiation oncology, interventional pain), and not one of them has told me they regret their decision, or that I should reconsider my (second) career choice. In fact, I've met several physicians I would call true role models - hard-working, enthusiastic, compassionate, brilliant. Granted most of them are in academics, and I'm not sure how most them felt about med school and residency, but it's been encouraging.

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel, if you make the right choices and keep on the sunny side...
  15. There's plenty more unspoken sentiment like this (see bolded comment above); don't put too much stock in the naysayers.

    VALSALVA sh*t or get off the pot 7+ Year Member

    Apr 19, 2004
    Soon to be graduate here...I'm happy but not for all the reasons I thought I would be when I started med. school. That might not make much sense to anybody else but it's how I feel. I think it has to do with the fact that my perception of what it means to practice medicine was different (i.e. rose colored) than it is now. I'm just happy that I'm moving onto the next step!
  17. rpkall

    rpkall Darwin Award Winner 7+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2004
    You have to really pick the specialty that suits you. That's not just academic/intellectual interest, btw, although that *has* to be a part of it--but it has more to do with the day-to-day lifestyle you'll have in a particular specialty, what your colleagues' personalities are like, what patient population you truly enjoy working with, etc. People who make their decisions for different reasons wind up unhappy, IMO. Like, money, prestige, reputation in a medical community, pressure from a family network, etc.
  18. pillowhead

    pillowhead Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 25, 2002
    I just graduated and I'm pretty happy with medicine still. 3rd year has lots of rough patches but it's also where you'e actually learning to be a doctor so you deal with it. Beginning of first year is tough because your dealing with gross anatomy and simply learning how to deal with all the information being thrown at you. but the second half of first year and second year are essentially the same so once you get the hang of it, it's really not that bad. Don't want to go to class? Skip it! Would rather study in pajamas at the coffee shop until midnight? Do it! Studying for step 1 is a beast, but goodness, it shouldn't be more than six weeks at best if you're a US student. It's not THAT bad.

    I think the thing keeping me from being ecstatic (unlike my very happy family at this moment) is knowing what's in front of me. Unfortunately, this whole process is indeed a marathon. I've just run 13 miles and it's been very very hard but you know what? It's been on flat ground. Things are about to go uphill from here. I'm glad I chose medicine but I won't lie--I am positiively dreading intern year. I've never seen such a chronically exhausted, overworked, beaten up group of people in my life and I'm about to become one of them. i think it will get a little bit better after intern year but still no walk in the park.
  19. TexasRose

    TexasRose Gotta run Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2002
    where else?
    Finishing up my 3rd year and very happy. Did I love every minute of preclinical studying? Of course not! Did I love every minute of every rotation? Of course not! But overall I'm very happy and wouldn't trade it for the world. :)

    Like many people have said, the unhappy ones are usually the most vocal. There are plenty of happy med students out there.
  20. Bubb Rubb

    Bubb Rubb Woo woo! 2+ Year Member

    Jul 20, 2006

    i like what i do, even when it takes up a good portion of my life.
  21. ForbiddenComma

    ForbiddenComma Tanned for Bowling 7+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2004
    Currently done with MS2 and studying for the boards...

    Many parts of it sucked. Many, many parts of it. You gear yourself for the insane study load before going in, you've heard all the horror stories... but you're still not ready once you start. Our class average on our first exam of med school was about 67%!

    But in time, you adjust. You and stress become old friends. Stress is always your trusted companion, in your free time (shouldn't you be memorizing your antidepressants?), in your family outings (shouldn't you have brought BRS Path with you?), even right after finishing another exam block (the next micro exam is only 3 weeks away... shouldn't you be starting virology now instead of later?).

    But it's the little things that remind you of your premed enthusiasm. Like clinical experiences... anything you can get. Our school's "intro to clinical" class bites, but the one thing they did right was pairing us up with preceptor MDs once a month. Let me tell you, there were times when that rotation was the only thing keeping me from losing it and winding up in the psych ward in a fetal position. Interacting with actual patients, scrubbing in on actual operations, being pimped by actual surgeons... let me tell you, it was bliss ;)

    And the constant reassurance... and hell, let me say it... respect... that you are getting from friends and family makes a difference too. People coming up to you to ask you what their stomach pain means when you're only an M1 is annoying... but it is also kind of cool too in its own way.

    Oh, and if you're a single guy... the "I'm a med student" line DOES work. Use it wisely. :D

    And now that MS2 is done and over with? I feel free. I even feel like I've made it. I mean, yeah, there is the minor matter of Step 1 to attend to... and later, the endless pimping from the attendings and the denigration from the nurses and the scutwork from the interns... but the worst is behind me.

    So yeah, you can be happy. But only if this was your true dream to begin with. Otherwise... sometime in between memorizing the brachial plexus and trying to figure out adrenergic pharm... you'll flip out and wind up fetal in that special padded room reserved for preclinical med students.
  22. EM_Rebuilder

    EM_Rebuilder Member Physician 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    I walked across that stage yesterday.... and I am TRULY happy with my decision.

    Sure there were tough times, and yes I b*&%^ed and moaned more than my fair share (and probably have some more to do).....but I landed the residency position I wanted in a place which compliments the lifestyle and people I want to work around, so I at least have a good outlook that the happiness will continue...

    No regrets; I'd be happy to start the MS1 year again this August.... those four years are the best and worst of your life. You will see, do, and learn more than you thought possible....
  23. TMP-SMX

    TMP-SMX Senior Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jun 12, 2006
    I bet the same people that aren't happy during med school were the same ones that weren't happy before it too.
  24. ooh... that'd be interesting to find out.
  25. Eboost


    May 22, 2007
    sometimes ,i get confused,its boring with books all day,little things activated me,and the passion decreased.i usually played basketball to release. i told myself things will change if i hold longer.
  26. Anka

    Anka Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2003
    I posted this before in another thread, but some of the good things about third year...

    I love medical school. Yeah, it has it's rough spots (like Ob/Gyn), but even as a medical student, you get some highs you just don't get watching TV and working in banking raking in the big bucks. Here are a few:
    1. The first time a patient tells you their whole life story, because you're doctor enough for them;
    2. The first time you suture skin and then see the person back in the office a couple of weeks later to see a well-healed scar;
    3. The first time you're doing an H&P, and as you go the differential appears in your mind, and you know what the plan is;
    4. The first time you make a pick up that makes a real difference in someone's life;
    5. Sitting with a patient who has just been given a life-changing diagnosis, and staying with them while they grieve;
    6. The first time a patient refuses to see anyone but "my doctor", and that 'doctor' is you... and they don't care you're a student, because you're the one they want to talk to.
    7. Hanging out with the very close friends you'll make over the course of your years at med school
    8. Looking up at the end of a long, busy night on call, and realizing you're proud to be part of this team
    9. Meeting some of the incredible, giving people who are competent and smart, for whom the patient's interest is the only interest... and working with them day after day.
    10. Teaching someone a year younger than you something you know (wow! I actually know something!)
    11. Having someone come up to you in the street and say "Hey, Doc! You remember me!" And you remember how a year or so ago, they were intubated in the ICU with an open abdomen and sepsis, and everyone thought they weren't going to make it.
    12. During a heart transplant: looking into a patient's chest and seeing it empty, then watching while a new heart is being sewn in. And then it starts beating; and the person is awake and alert the next day.

    The list could go on forever. Yeah, we all have our rough spots, but it is wonderous what we get to see and do all day.

  27. njbmd

    njbmd Guest Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    May 30, 2001
    Gone Walkabout!

    I never regretted my decision to attend medical school and to practice medicine. My experience through four years was a great learning experience in a great school. Our faculty was dedicated to producing good physicians, our class was cohesive and professional and we got the job done (had fun doing it). I loved my Step I score and loved all four years of growth and development.

    Medical school and residency does not make one a "higher form of life". It is professional training to enter a profession. If you are unhappy with yourself, medical school is only going to amplify those feelings of self-doubt. If you are immature, medical school is only going to amplify those immature characteristics and basically you either figure out how to "grow up" or you become more miserable and self-centered. Most of the whiners quickly learn that whining only perpetuates misery and you either do something about your situation or shut up because whining won't fix it.

    I have an interesting job that I love and do very well. I have great colleagues who strive for doing their best and my life is good. My ego is not tied to my profession and my patients always come first because those are the only priorities that I have in medicine. If I did not want to be a physican, I would not have applied for medical school.

    If one is miserable going into medical school, the added responsibility of academics and professional development is not going to alleviate that misery. At some point, you have to grow up, shut up and get the job done.
  28. naegleria brain

    naegleria brain 2+ Year Member

    Dec 24, 2006
    yes, the next seven years will be filled with misery.
    but it will also have happy times sprinkled in there to get you through it.

    no one's high for 10 years straight; the highs and lows always are there. med school tends to bring out more lows, and the highs are usually spent drunk or asleep, so you tend to focus on the lows. and yes, the lows in the near future are going to be lower than what you're used to.

    one thing to remember, we all wanted to be doctors. none of us said "i want to be med students when i grow up!" i'm confident practicing will deliver on our dreams and satisfaction that we did it. but until then this brutal onslought of **** and nonsense will keep us from focusing on the successes that come along the way.

    if you can control that, you can get through the seven years without too much cynicism. its funny though, you can see the cynical nature progress by talking to guys as they go through; med school changes everyone, but it doesn't have to be TOO negative.

    there's a mandated amount of hell required. anything beyond is what you make of it.
  29. TMP-SMX

    TMP-SMX Senior Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jun 12, 2006
    When asked why I want to go into medicine, I told my interviewer that medicine is one of those professions where you know you are alive. You have the high peaks and the low valleys of life and death that make it fulfilling. It's one of those things that make you mature as a person. One drawback is that you tend to become detached and distanced from patients as time goes on to protect your sanity.
  30. biomama

    biomama biomama 5+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    thanks for all the great responses!
  31. LifetimeDoc

    LifetimeDoc EM Attending Physician 10+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    I prefer Monty Python: :D :laugh:

Share This Page