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Intern year blows. Sorry for being unoriginal. I'm posting here because I'm wondering whether I'm having a rougher go of it than others, and to determine what my next step should be.

At no point in medical school or residency so far have I enjoyed medicine. Pre-med also sucked. Whatever reasons I had for starting down this road back when I was 18 (liking science, prestige, money, utter naiveté), they're all gone now. The input I've always gotten is to "keep going, it gets better." It's way late for insight, but I realize now this wasn't great advice. The culture of medicine is awful. Most of my coworkers are generally nice people, but when you work within an institution that imposes hierarchical power strictures that totally warp normal human relationships, it's hard to take solace in that. I also don't care much intellectually about the work. Other residents seemed to get really jazzed about whatever research topic they're slaving away on (unpaid, of course), but I just cannot get excited about rectal bleeds or chest pain. And more than anything else, I find patient care tiresome and unrewarding. For me, it's extremely unenjoyable tending to people's needs, particularly when the majority of what I encounter clinically are socially determined health issues that aren't going to be fixed by any doctor in isolation.

So...should I quit? I have a lot of debt, and finishing residency and working for a few years before quitting seems like the fastest way of getting out from under it. Then again, it's awful to go into work everyday knowing that you're miserable. Doing this for another 6-7 years is a little nauseating. I've had a lot of other jobs in the past and never disliked any of them in this same way. I've put out feelers for potential positions in my area, but I wonder if I should at least wait until finishing internship and getting my license before making the jump. I don't anticipate working clinically any longer than I have to, but I'm also not stupid and realize how fortunate I am to have a stable job that pays me enough to live a comfortable life in an awesome city. I also realize that most people in the world hate their jobs, so maybe this is just normal. Especially for a resident.

Thoughts?
 

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1. "Liking science, money, prestige" is a laundry list of the wrong reasons to go into medicine. That's why you don't like it --it's not about any of those things.
2. Only you can decide if you can stomach pushing on and whether it's worth it to finish up. I think getting your license Is probably wise as a minimum.
3. Intern year is the worst of it but frankly if you aren't enjoying any of it, you aren't going to enjoy the rest of residency or career.
4. The statement that "most people hate their jobs" is a myth. It's true for minimum wage people, sweatshop workers, but for people with career choices in life it's really not true. It's just something some people might tell themselves to feel better about hating their job but in fact many many professionals like their work. And those that don't have more of a ability to change things than they realize. (Take it from a career changer, you aren't as "stuck" as you think compared to most of the nations labor force). Liking work is really about knowing what you are getting into and adjusting their expectations and attitude accordingly. If you are hoping for money, prestige and doing science of course you'll hate residency because it's not at all about that.
5. Liking intern year is mostly about attitude and state of mind. You can take two people, give them the same patient load and hours, and odds are one will enjoy it a lot more than the other. The only difference is between their ears.
 
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doc05

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your concerns aren't typical intern year issues. sounds like clinical medicine isn't for you. what specialty are you training in? if it's rads or path you may have a chance. otherwise, just finish out the year and do something else.
 
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atomi

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1. "Liking science, money, prestige" is a laundry list of the wrong reasons to go into medicine. That's why you don't like it --it's not about any of those things.
Give me a break, those are essentially the reasons of the vast majority who go into medicine, and plenty of those people like it just fine.

OP, I feel you. My opinion is don't quit unless you have something else solid lined up right now outside of medicine. Get through residency then quit. Most docs are pretty happy with their lives once they get out. Don't make any life or career changing decisions during intern year. Get through it, then decide. If you're in a demanding field (surgery or medicine), you might want to consider a less demanding field (anesthesia, psych, pmr, whatever). If you're medicine, nobody says you have to do a fellowship. You can find a gig somewhere doing 9-5 primary care and make a living.
 

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Give me a break, those are essentially the reasons of the vast majority who go into medicine...
Um no, it's the minority who have these motivations, but they make up a majority of those people dissatisfied with their careers. Clearly you are extrapolating that everyone around you had the same shallow motivations, but it's hardly the case. Good luck with that.
 

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Give me a break, those are essentially the reasons of the vast majority who go into medicine, and plenty of those people like it just fine.

OP, I feel you. My opinion is don't quit unless you have something else solid lined up right now outside of medicine. Get through residency then quit. Most docs are pretty happy with their lives once they get out. Don't make any life or career changing decisions during intern year. Get through it, then decide. If you're in a demanding field (surgery or medicine), you might want to consider a less demanding field (anesthesia, psych, pmr, whatever). If you're medicine, nobody says you have to do a fellowship. You can find a gig somewhere doing 9-5 primary care and make a living.
Anesthesia is anything BUT a less demanding field.
IM is less demanding than anesthesia, if not similar in different ways.

People don't go into medicine exclusively for those reasons, but commonly what people joke about.
 

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Intern year blows. Sorry for being unoriginal. I'm posting here because I'm wondering whether I'm having a rougher go of it than others, and to determine what my next step should be.

At no point in medical school or residency so far have I enjoyed medicine. Pre-med also sucked. Whatever reasons I had for starting down this road back when I was 18 (liking science, prestige, money, utter naiveté), they're all gone now. The input I've always gotten is to "keep going, it gets better." It's way late for insight, but I realize now this wasn't great advice. The culture of medicine is awful. Most of my coworkers are generally nice people, but when you work within an institution that imposes hierarchical power strictures that totally warp normal human relationships, it's hard to take solace in that. I also don't care much intellectually about the work. Other residents seemed to get really jazzed about whatever research topic they're slaving away on (unpaid, of course), but I just cannot get excited about rectal bleeds or chest pain. And more than anything else, I find patient care tiresome and unrewarding. For me, it's extremely unenjoyable tending to people's needs, particularly when the majority of what I encounter clinically are socially determined health issues that aren't going to be fixed by any doctor in isolation.

So...should I quit? I have a lot of debt, and finishing residency and working for a few years before quitting seems like the fastest way of getting out from under it. Then again, it's awful to go into work everyday knowing that you're miserable. Doing this for another 6-7 years is a little nauseating. I've had a lot of other jobs in the past and never disliked any of them in this same way. I've put out feelers for potential positions in my area, but I wonder if I should at least wait until finishing internship and getting my license before making the jump. I don't anticipate working clinically any longer than I have to, but I'm also not stupid and realize how fortunate I am to have a stable job that pays me enough to live a comfortable life in an awesome city. I also realize that most people in the world hate their jobs, so maybe this is just normal. Especially for a resident.

Thoughts?
Thoughts:

You shouldn't quit, because it gets better. I know people keep telling you that, but its true, and it doesn't become true until the very end. I didn't love premed. I didn't love medical school. I definitely didn't enjoy most of residency. Now, two months into the real world and... its better. I like my job. I'm not sure I'll ever love it, but its mostly what I wanted. Its a reasonable, predictable schedule with almost every weekend off. People are basically respectful of me. I have few worries about job security. I'm pretty well paid. The problems are interesting enough that the time passes quickly but are mostly algorithmic enough that I don't feel like I'm drowning. I don't feel the least bit morally conflicted about what I do every day. Its not that bad.

You shouldn't quit, because the first six months of Intern year are not a good time to make life decisions. Even by the standards of residency, Intern year is f-ing awful. Whatever residual interest you had in your job vanishes under the tidal wave of crap that washes over you. Its easy to look back and forget even the biggest bright spots, and to overexagerate all the parts of medical school and premed that you hated. Also the sleep deprivation and stress add a real, biological element of depression into the equation. Assume that all the dark thoughts will pass, at least for the near future. Alternatively, if the dark thoughts are getting worse, assume you might need some help, rather than a new job.

You shouldn't quit, because the way out of medicine involves board certification. Believe me, I looked. Clinical director for Pharma trials? Leveraging your MD for a hospital admin job? Academic professor who doesn't see clinic? They want clinical experience. They don't want drop outs.

You shouldn't quit, because you don't have a choice. Lets be honest, you bet your life on this. You put your youth into this career. You bet a lifetime's worth of finances on it. You're like an immigrant who sold everything to buy a ticket to a new country. Was that ticket overpriced? Maybe. Would you have been happier if you didn't get on the boat? Perhaps. Since you're so unhappy on the boat, should you jump over the side? No.

Maybe finishing isn't a better option than not starting would have been, but I guarantee that finishing now is a better option than not finishing now.

Advice:
1) for the next 11 blocks, put quitting out of your mind. Don't put out any more feelers for positions, don't surf the internet for other jobs. Accept that this is medical boot camp and your only purpose is to get through it. When you hit PGY-2 still don't quit, but if you still hate your job that's when you can start figuring out how to position yourself for those clinical director jobs. Right now just be a doctor.

2) Prioritize your mental health. And physical health when possible. Its a marathon, not a sprint. Exercise. Sleep as much as your program allows. Spend money to buy time.

3) Don't sign up for more. I'm always amazed by how many people despise their jobs as residents, but then sign on for more training. Be a hospitalist. Or a primary care doctor. Let yourself be done.

4) Remember, they can't stop they clock. Most awful jobs go on until you quit or die. Residency, though, comes with a countdown timer. Every day, every hour, and every minute you're getting closer. Just get through it.
 
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MLT2MT2DO

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Intern year blows. Sorry for being unoriginal. I'm posting here because I'm wondering whether I'm having a rougher go of it than others, and to determine what my next step should be.

At no point in medical school or residency so far have I enjoyed medicine. Pre-med also sucked. Whatever reasons I had for starting down this road back when I was 18 (liking science, prestige, money, utter naiveté), they're all gone now. The input I've always gotten is to "keep going, it gets better." It's way late for insight, but I realize now this wasn't great advice. The culture of medicine is awful. Most of my coworkers are generally nice people, but when you work within an institution that imposes hierarchical power strictures that totally warp normal human relationships, it's hard to take solace in that. I also don't care much intellectually about the work. Other residents seemed to get really jazzed about whatever research topic they're slaving away on (unpaid, of course), but I just cannot get excited about rectal bleeds or chest pain. And more than anything else, I find patient care tiresome and unrewarding. For me, it's extremely unenjoyable tending to people's needs, particularly when the majority of what I encounter clinically are socially determined health issues that aren't going to be fixed by any doctor in isolation.

So...should I quit? I have a lot of debt, and finishing residency and working for a few years before quitting seems like the fastest way of getting out from under it. Then again, it's awful to go into work everyday knowing that you're miserable. Doing this for another 6-7 years is a little nauseating. I've had a lot of other jobs in the past and never disliked any of them in this same way. I've put out feelers for potential positions in my area, but I wonder if I should at least wait until finishing internship and getting my license before making the jump. I don't anticipate working clinically any longer than I have to, but I'm also not stupid and realize how fortunate I am to have a stable job that pays me enough to live a comfortable life in an awesome city. I also realize that most people in the world hate their jobs, so maybe this is just normal. Especially for a resident.

Thoughts?
Read House Of God. Then switch to Psych.
 

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Um no, it's the minority who have these motivations, but they make up a majority of those people dissatisfied with their careers. Clearly you are extrapolating that everyone around you had the same shallow motivations, but it's hardly the case. Good luck with that.
And I suppose your decision to (presumably) leave the legal field and go into medicine had nothing to do with money? It's more than a little curious that someone who touts a holier than thou attitude about financial motivations went into another traditionally high-paying professional field when dissatisied with the prior. I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that jobs like nurse, veterinarian, and high school teacher weren't on your short list when you were thinking about second careers.

Again, give me a break. If you think that money, importance of one's job, and an interest in science aren't the things swirling around in the heads of most 20 year old premeds, you need a reality check.
 

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Anesthesia is anything BUT a less demanding field.
IM is less demanding than anesthesia, if not similar in different ways.

People don't go into medicine exclusively for those reasons, but commonly what people joke about.
Well, I don't think anyone would argue that anesthesia residency isn't more demanding, but I'd say that the argument could be made either way regarding practice. If someone had the desire, it is much easier to be a part-time anesthesiologist, doing routine cases, and still make as much money as many full-time internists. Part-time hospitalists might be possible in theory, but I haven't heard of too many opportunities for that, and while there are opportunities for part-time primary care, the pay is already crap and you still have to work consistently because you have your own patient panel. Compare that to the well known "mommy track" jobs for anesthesia, the generally controllable work hours (except for when that one case gets derailed, yes), and the fact that you have no responsibilities except to the patients you're seeing that day? Yeah, I can see those as a reason why someone who doesn't actually like medicine chooses anesthesia as a field to give themselves more opportunities to do stuff outside of work.
 

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Read House Of God. Then switch to Psych.
Upsides of psych -- lots of parttime, locums and shift work availability these days and an easier residency. You don't have to pretend to be excited by rectal bleeds, either. Big downside though -- patient care. If you don't like talking to patients, you might not like psych. I think Raryn's points about anesthesia make sense. Minimal patient contact with a circumscribed role and the possibility of decent pay parttime/shift work. Maybe not the best field if you're an anxious person, though. Pathology and radiology can be minimal patient contact (although I guess you have to do interventional stuff for these fields during residency). I've heard it's hard to get a parttime radiologist job, though.
 

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1.) Residency sucks!
2.) Internship really sucks!
3.) If medicine was easy, anybody and everybody would be doing it. Could there be a better way of training docs? Of course, but I don't think that is going to change anytime soon.

I always go back to the day I got accepted into med school and then getting into the residency of my choice. Multiply those experiences by 10 and square that and that is the feeling you get once you're out in the "real world."
 

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And I suppose your decision to (presumably) leave the legal field and go into medicine had nothing to do with money? ...
I'm making less now, and cost myself a decade of earnings/raises/investments to boot, so no it obviously really didn't. I made my decision despite the big negative financial consequences, which I knew going in. But nice try.

You just keep on telling yourself that your own motivations are everyone's, if it makes you feel better. But that won't make it true.

Money, prestige, the nebulous "helping people", and the like, are all very shallow motivators. They may get you to show up each morning, but will never make you enjoy your job. People who actually like their jobs tend to be motivated by less superficial things. If you are smart you'll figure out what that is for you.

People smart enough to get into and through med school (or other professions) have a big advantage over the population at large -- they have the ability to choose a career path that makes them happy. The guy working at the local filling station doesn't have those kinds of choices in life and so he's allowed to hate his job and live for the weekend. Someone smart enough to do medicine has many more opportunities and is a sucker if he opts for a career path that isn't in some way enjoyable/satisfying.
 
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doc05

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...more than anything else, I find patient care tiresome and unrewarding. For me, it's extremely unenjoyable tending to people's needs, particularly when the majority of what I encounter clinically are socially determined health issues that aren't going to be fixed by any doctor in isolation.
These comments are very important. And these issues do not change after intern year.

So...should I quit?
you need to find a way out of clinical medicine. finish out the year, but then leave. it doesn't really get better.
 
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pulmoblast

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Don't quit. Finish residency. You can then leave clinical medicine and get into insurance or med mal. Mba and management track is also a good option. Trust I am a fellow and sometimes I too get tired of this **** everyday....
 
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If it makes you have some hope, I just started PGY3 in July and am going through formalities for a contract. The job is mine (or so I'm told) as long as the formalities work out. This has been a week of evolution from being miserable many days of the week to so, so happy that I know next year I'll be working an amazing job, getting paid FAIRLY and will have a great deal of autonomy. You need to get to this point. Residency sucks. I don't like it, but I'm glad I'm around the people I am as they make it much more tolerable than it would be.
 
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Money, prestige, the nebulous "helping people", and the like, are all very shallow motivators. They may get you to show up each morning, but will never make you enjoy your job. People who actually like their jobs tend to be motivated by less superficial things. If you are smart you'll figure out what that is for you.
Actually, I think the 'helping people' part is quite important. The sincere desire to 'help people', however nebulous it seems, is the common denominator among essentially all good physicians I encounter and 95% of those docs who enjoy their jobs on a daily basis. The clinicians who aren't crazy about that tend to be the ones who you can tell don't really like the work.
 

atomi

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I'm making less now, and cost myself a decade of earnings/raises/investments to boot, so no it obviously really didn't. I made my decision despite the big negative financial consequences, which I knew going in. But nice try.

You just keep on telling yourself that your own motivations are everyone's, if it makes you feel better. But that won't make it true.
Sure. Whatever you gotta tell yourself. I can't tell if you're being intentionally obtuse or you're really this out of touch. Regardless, your self-righteous comments do a real disservice to the OP. He sounds just like the majority of people who went into this and is now having a lot of the same feelings they all have. Insinuating that he doesn't like intern year and should quit because his motivations as a premed were somehow morally inferior is just wrong. No, he should stick it out, his confidence will grow as he becomes good at it, and he will undoubtedly find things that he likes about it and latch onto them. And then in a few years, he will be making a very decent income doing important and respected work with ongoing scholarly pursuits as part of his career. But wait, these are all bad things, so he should just quit, and what... work at wal-mart until something better comes along?

Regarding your defensive comments about making less now, you're either (1) lying or greatly stretching the truth or (2) you made a lot of money in your previous career and are judging people from your ivory tower you built by being financially ambitious. Either way, there's a spot on a medical school admissions committee waiting for you somewhere. Most people go into medicine because their 20 year old minds are ambitious, scientifically inquisitive, and have a desire for future stability. And yes, most even have a desire to "help" or make a difference. When a peer criticizes someone for openly expressing any of these as "reasons," my spidey sense starts tingling.

OP, stick it out and don't let anyone push this self-deprecating crap on you! Your thoughts are 100% normal!
 

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I'm making less now, and cost myself a decade of earnings/raises/investments to boot, so no it obviously really didn't. I made my decision despite the big negative financial consequences, which I knew going in. But nice try.

You just keep on telling yourself that your own motivations are everyone's, if it makes you feel better. But that won't make it true.

Money, prestige, the nebulous "helping people", and the like, are all very shallow motivators. They may get you to show up each morning, but will never make you enjoy your job. People who actually like their jobs tend to be motivated by less superficial things. If you are smart you'll figure out what that is for you.

People smart enough to get into and through med school (or other professions) have a big advantage over the population at large -- they have the ability to choose a career path that makes them happy. The guy working at the local filling station doesn't have those kinds of choices in life and so he's allowed to hate his job and live for the weekend. Someone smart enough to do medicine has many more opportunities and is a sucker if he opts for a career path that isn't in some way enjoyable/satisfying.
I don't have any reason to question your sincerity, but I definitely have not seen an overwhelming love of our work and profession in my peer group, and its not what people have found when they've polled the profession either. Most people seem to think of medicine as a job. Some like it more than others, but conversations are more likely focus on how we can break into part time work than how we can best approach the Hippocratic ideal. Most of us want to do this well if we're doing it, and some of us are happy enough with the job as a job, but all things being equal I think most of us get more satisfaction out of the weekends than the week days. And I think that's Ok.
 
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I don't have any reason to question your sincerity, but I definitely have not seen an overwhelming love of our work and profession in my peer group, and its not what people have found when they've polled the profession either. Most people seem to think of medicine as a job. Some like it more than others, but conversations are more likely focus on how we can break into part time work than how we can best approach the Hippocratic ideal. Most of us want to do this well if we're doing it, and some of us are happy enough with the job as a job, but all things being equal I think most of us get more satisfaction out of the weekends than the week days. And I think that's Ok.
I think you are overlooking the crux of your own post. The people polled who are most dissatisfied are the ones who just "see it as a job", ie a means to an income. if you want career satisfaction, you must find a career where the appeal is more than this. It's fine to enjoy the weekends (everyone likes a respite and time to spend with friends/family) but if you are living for the weekends and disliking the weeks in between you really haven't found the right job. It's lame to just shrug and fall back on the "everyone hates their job" mantra. That's really not true, and is essentially just the battle cry of those unwilling to take hold of their own destiny and find something they like better.
 
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doc05

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Don't quit. Finish residency. You can then leave clinical medicine and get into insurance or med mal. Mba and management track is also a good option. Trust I am a fellow and sometimes I too get tired of this **** everyday....
that's bad advice. the OP is clearly in the wrong field and will be wasting time and energy completing residency.
 

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If it makes you have some hope, I just started PGY3 in July and am going through formalities for a contract. The job is mine (or so I'm told) as long as the formalities work out. This has been a week of evolution from being miserable many days of the week to so, so happy that I know next year I'll be working an amazing job, getting paid FAIRLY and will have a great deal of autonomy. You need to get to this point. Residency sucks. I don't like it, but I'm glad I'm around the people I am as they make it much more tolerable than it would be.
I've got news for you: you will NOT have a "great deal of autonomy" if you are in ANY employed position.
 
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I've got news for you: you will NOT have a "great deal of autonomy" if you are in ANY employed position.
You will relative to being a resident.
 

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Sure. Whatever you gotta tell yourself. I can't tell if you're being intentionally obtuse or you're really this out of touch. Regardless, your self-righteous comments do a real disservice to the OP. He sounds just like the majority of people who went into this and is now having a lot of the same feelings they all have. Insinuating that he doesn't like intern year and should quit because his motivations as a premed were somehow morally inferior is just wrong. No, he should stick it out, his confidence will grow as he becomes good at it, and he will undoubtedly find things that he likes about it and latch onto them. And then in a few years, he will be making a very decent income doing important and respected work with ongoing scholarly pursuits as part of his career. But wait, these are all bad things, so he should just quit, and what... work at wal-mart until something better comes along?

Regarding your defensive comments about making less now, you're either (1) lying or greatly stretching the truth or (2) you made a lot of money in your previous career and are judging people from your ivory tower you built by being financially ambitious. Either way, there's a spot on a medical school admissions committee waiting for you somewhere. Most people go into medicine because their 20 year old minds are ambitious, scientifically inquisitive, and have a desire for future stability. And yes, most even have a desire to "help" or make a difference. When a peer criticizes someone for openly expressing any of these as "reasons," my spidey sense starts tingling.

OP, stick it out and don't let anyone push this self-deprecating crap on you! Your thoughts are 100% normal!
Fantastic post and rings with truth. Both the analysis and the recommendation to the OP.
 

mercaptovizadeh

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I think you are overlooking the crux of your own post. The people polled who are most dissatisfied are the ones who just "see it as a job", ie a means to an income. if you want career satisfaction, you must find a career where the appeal is more than this. It's fine to enjoy the weekends (everyone likes a respite and time to spend with friends/family) but if you are living for the weekends and disliking the weeks in between you really haven't found the right job. It's lame to just shrug and fall back on the "everyone hates their job" mantra. That's really not true, and is essentially just the battle cry of those unwilling to take hold of their own destiny and find something they like better.
This is such crap, because you know full well how anyone who quits residency without ancillary parallel training and likely experience (previously an engineer, lawyer like yourself, majored in economics and worked in ibanking before med school, etc.) is set for a very bad fall. Industry, pharma, even basic science labs, not to mention all the other jobs where a doctor is grossly overqualified, look upon a resident who quit (who may have an MD, an intern year complete, and a license) as radioactive waste.

Most people who go into medicine do so because it has the allure of being a well respected prestigious career with intellectual (and sometimes technical, if you are of the surgical/procedural bent) challenge, economic well being and stability, with the added benefit that there is this opportunity of helping people.

When you're 18, nobody tells you that medicine breaks down people into biological machines rather than something greater than their parts, that this job makes you lose any sense of empathy for the trivial or even modest and reasonable complaint because of all the emergencies, codes and GOC discussions we go through, that you will always feel inadequate and that you don't know (enough) because of how much more there is to read and learn, that you will be crushed under slogs of paperwork, that most of your work will not be intellectually interesting at all but rather the boring ho hum lap chole, kid with ear infection, demented patient with a fall, etc.
 

ScubaV

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I think you are overlooking the crux of your own post. The people polled who are most dissatisfied are the ones who just "see it as a job", ie a means to an income. if you want career satisfaction, you must find a career where the appeal is more than this. It's fine to enjoy the weekends (everyone likes a respite and time to spend with friends/family) but if you are living for the weekends and disliking the weeks in between you really haven't found the right job. It's lame to just shrug and fall back on the "everyone hates their job" mantra. That's really not true, and is essentially just the battle cry of those unwilling to take hold of their own destiny and find something they like better.
This reminds me of the saying that if you find something you enjoy you'll never work a day in your life. I think the idea that there's a fulfilling career for everyone (or even just people intelligent enough to have options) if they just look hard enough is idealistic at best and dangerous at worst. There's a reason it's called work and people get paid to do it.

Back when I was in college during the height of the poker craze I played low-key games with my dorm-mates and had a lot of fun. I knew a guy who played online and made a bunch of money doing it. So I asked him to show me his method and spent the next couple months earning some extra spending money. In the end I made about 10x what I originally put in, but instead of having fun like at our casual games I was bored. It felt like a job. For me, and I suspect for a lot of people, simply structuring an activity and putting obligations on it can make something otherwise appealing into "work". People joke about getting paid to play video games, well there are actual analogs to that. Do you think most video game testers find their jobs fulfilling? Do you think people who stream online wish they didn't have to deal with subscribers who are ornery and demanding or stalkerish?

I think for most people finding a career where they look forward to doing it or feel like they don't work is impossible and it's not because they failed to look hard enough. Unfortunately, this thought process seems to negatively impact a lot of people, especially in their 20s and 30s, because they're casting about for an unattainable goal instead of simply moving forward with something that is good enough. Work is still work, even if it's something you like or at the very least can tolerate. It sounds like OP is worse off than this, but people have made convincing arguments that if s/he can suffer through, better opportunities will be available.
 
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Law2Doc

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This reminds me of the saying that if you find something you enjoy you'll never work a day in your life. I think the idea that there's a fulfilling career for everyone (or even just people intelligent enough to have options) if they just look hard enough is idealistic at best and dangerous at worst. There's a reason it's called work and people get paid to do it.

Back when I was in college during the height of the poker craze I played low-key games with my dorm-mates and had a lot of fun. I knew a guy who played online and made a bunch of money doing it. So I asked him to show me his method and spent the next couple months earning some extra spending money. In the end I made about 10x what I originally put in, but instead of having fun like at our casual games I was bored. It felt like a job. For me, and I suspect for a lot of people, simply structuring an activity and putting obligations on it can make something otherwise appealing into "work". People joke about getting paid to play video games, well there are actual analogs to that. Do you think most video game testers find their jobs fulfilling? Do you think people who stream online wish they didn't have to deal with subscribers who are ornery and demanding or stalkerish?

I think for most people finding a career where they look forward to doing it or feel like they don't work is impossible and it's not because they failed to look hard enough. Unfortunately, this thought process seems to negatively impact a lot of people, especially in their 20s and 30s, because they're casting about for an unattainable goal instead of simply moving forward with something that is good enough. Work is still work, even if it's something you like or at the very least can tolerate. It sounds like OP is worse off than this, but people have made convincing arguments that if s/he can suffer through, better opportunities will be available.
There are lots of career changers on this board who from personal experience can tell you you absolutely are not eternally stuck in a job you hate, and that yes a lot of us do find things we like better, and subsequently don't hate work or live for the weekends. The converse, that all work sucks and that everybody is unhappy is a myth and what is "dangerous" here, because it paralyzes people who could otherwise fix things for themselves.
 

gutonc

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Hi, get your license. You will be able to go into corporate or pharmaceutical jobs in the USA or abroad. Look into medical science liason jobs. They are highly paid but all require a license. The more experience you have the better and residency counts. Plot your exit strategy before quitting because it is extremely difficult to find a decent job with just an MD except teaching community college.
I know dozens of MSLs and not a single one of them is a physician. Most are PhDs and a few are MS with lots of experience.
 

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So...should I quit? I have a lot of debt, and finishing residency and working for a few years before quitting seems like the fastest way of getting out from under it. Then again, it's awful to go into work everyday knowing that you're miserable. Doing this for another 6-7 years is a little nauseating. I've had a lot of other jobs in the past and never disliked any of them in this same way. I've put out feelers for potential positions in my area, but I wonder if I should at least wait until finishing internship and getting my license before making the jump. I don't anticipate working clinically any longer than I have to, but I'm also not stupid and realize how fortunate I am to have a stable job that pays me enough to live a comfortable life in an awesome city. I also realize that most people in the world hate their jobs, so maybe this is just normal. Especially for a resident.

Thoughts?
No one can really tell you for sure what you should do, but finishing internship (and ideally residency) would open up more doors for you. Is there any field in medicine or type of work in medicine that you think would be tolerable? If so, could you switch specialties? Or is there something in your specialty that you might enjoy? Medicine is so broad that it's hard to say you'll be miserable in anything in medicine if you're miserable in your internship. In my field, you can work in a hospital, do walk-in clinic type of work, do consults, do disability evals, do straight psychotherapy and not touch medicine, handle just medication management, work full time, work part-time, move from job to job doing locums, keep one job forever and so on.... Remember that your work environment and the doctors you're working with represent a tiny part of the medical world.
 

jdh71

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This is such crap, because you know full well how anyone who quits residency without ancillary parallel training and likely experience (previously an engineer, lawyer like yourself, majored in economics and worked in ibanking before med school, etc.) is set for a very bad fall. Industry, pharma, even basic science labs, not to mention all the other jobs where a doctor is grossly overqualified, look upon a resident who quit (who may have an MD, an intern year complete, and a license) as radioactive waste.

Most people who go into medicine do so because it has the allure of being a well respected prestigious career with intellectual (and sometimes technical, if you are of the surgical/procedural bent) challenge, economic well being and stability, with the added benefit that there is this opportunity of helping people.

When you're 18, nobody tells you that medicine breaks down people into biological machines rather than something greater than their parts, that this job makes you lose any sense of empathy for the trivial or even modest and reasonable complaint because of all the emergencies, codes and GOC discussions we go through, that you will always feel inadequate and that you don't know (enough) because of how much more there is to read and learn, that you will be crushed under slogs of paperwork, that most of your work will not be intellectually interesting at all but rather the boring ho hum lap chole, kid with ear infection, demented patient with a fall, etc.
So dark.

It gets better.
 

Jimmy B

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This is why Intern year is one year long and not 3+. Most of us felt like we were "glorified social workers" rather than physicians because of all of the dispo issues we would deal with as interns.

But seriously....

53470350.jpg
 

Crayola227

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I should have chimed in to say most of my early post history would be useful.

Don't quit.
Read my post "resident friend joked suicide" about how to seek help.
 

Crayola227

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And yes, it is supposed to hurt this bad. The system is designed to suck the life out of us like we're living in the very worst sort of anti-Marxist nightmare. Might as well be playing the xylophone with the bones of the elderly while performing human sacrifice.

If you do not finish internship you are looking at poverty, and if anything happens to your health, you are looking at the absolute very worst sort of poverty. Not finishing your intern year is like throwing the rest of your life away.
 

dienekes88

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Intern year blows. Sorry for being unoriginal. I'm posting here because I'm wondering whether I'm having a rougher go of it than others, and to determine what my next step should be.

At no point in medical school or residency so far have I enjoyed medicine. Pre-med also sucked. Whatever reasons I had for starting down this road back when I was 18 (liking science, prestige, money, utter naiveté), they're all gone now. The input I've always gotten is to "keep going, it gets better." It's way late for insight, but I realize now this wasn't great advice. The culture of medicine is awful. Most of my coworkers are generally nice people, but when you work within an institution that imposes hierarchical power strictures that totally warp normal human relationships, it's hard to take solace in that. I also don't care much intellectually about the work. Other residents seemed to get really jazzed about whatever research topic they're slaving away on (unpaid, of course), but I just cannot get excited about rectal bleeds or chest pain. And more than anything else, I find patient care tiresome and unrewarding. For me, it's extremely unenjoyable tending to people's needs, particularly when the majority of what I encounter clinically are socially determined health issues that aren't going to be fixed by any doctor in isolation.

So...should I quit? I have a lot of debt, and finishing residency and working for a few years before quitting seems like the fastest way of getting out from under it. Then again, it's awful to go into work everyday knowing that you're miserable. Doing this for another 6-7 years is a little nauseating. I've had a lot of other jobs in the past and never disliked any of them in this same way. I've put out feelers for potential positions in my area, but I wonder if I should at least wait until finishing internship and getting my license before making the jump. I don't anticipate working clinically any longer than I have to, but I'm also not stupid and realize how fortunate I am to have a stable job that pays me enough to live a comfortable life in an awesome city. I also realize that most people in the world hate their jobs, so maybe this is just normal. Especially for a resident.

Thoughts?
Sounds like burnout. If you are truly miserable, you should talk to mental health professional. I would also do some soul searching. That may mean finding a new group of friends. It could mean reading some philosophy. It might be that you need to find religion. There's no panacea.
 
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QofQuimica

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Liking work is really about knowing what you are getting into and adjusting their expectations and attitude accordingly. If you are hoping for money, prestige and doing science of course you'll hate residency because it's not at all about that.
I would agree with you that people's unrealistic expectations are THE key issue regarding job dissatisfaction. Ironically, once I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to find a job I loved, and accepted that I would not love my job, I actually liked my job much better than I had before.

OP, I've spent a lot of time searching for the "right" job, including career changing. While I have certainly liked some jobs better than others, I wouldn't say I have ever *loved* any job I've had in the 25+ years that I've been working various jobs. (I mean, if I had really loved my prior jobs, I wouldn't have switched to medicine in the first place, right?) Ultimately, I have come to the conclusions that A) there is probably no such thing as a job I would love; B) it's ok to go through life not loving my job; and C) what I really want more than a job I love is to not need to have a job at all. Working because you wish to is very different than working because you have to.

That being said, if you're a normal resident with a lot of debt, it will unfortunately be a very long time before you can afford to drop out of medicine. Depending on how much debt you're in, you may realistically need to practice for a decade or more post-residency. I came out of med school with no debt and a decent start on my retirement savings, and it will still take ~3.5 years of full time work post-residency before I will be able to afford to retire. Especially since you are in considerable debt, as others have said, you are probably better off making your peace with your current situation than committing financial suicide. The first good news is that medicine happens to be a very broad field. Even if you don't love your job (and I would argue that it's ok not to love it), you can likely find some area of medicine or some job in medicine that you can tolerate, and maybe even like. The other good news is that being an attending is way better than being a resident, if only because you have more control over your work hours via selecting your job. And especially since you don't love your job, I would suggest finding other things (hobbies, relationships, etc.) outside of your work life that you can feel excited and enthusiastic about.

Best of luck to you.
 

mercaptovizadeh

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I would agree with you that people's unrealistic expectations are THE key issue regarding job dissatisfaction. Ironically, once I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to find a job I loved, and accepted that I would not love my job, I actually liked my job much better than I had before.

OP, I've spent a lot of time searching for the "right" job, including career changing. While I have certainly liked some jobs better than others, I wouldn't say I have ever *loved* any job I've had in the 25+ years that I've been working various jobs. (I mean, if I had really loved my prior jobs, I wouldn't have switched to medicine in the first place, right?) Ultimately, I have come to the conclusions that A) there is probably no such thing as a job I would love; B) it's ok to go through life not loving my job; and C) what I really want more than a job I love is to not need to have a job at all. Working because you wish to is very different than working because you have to.

That being said, if you're a normal resident with a lot of debt, it will unfortunately be a very long time before you can afford to drop out of medicine. Depending on how much debt you're in, you may realistically need to practice for a decade or more post-residency. I came out of med school with no debt and a decent start on my retirement savings, and it will still take ~3.5 years of full time work post-residency before I will be able to afford to retire. Especially since you are in considerable debt, as others have said, you are probably better off making your peace with your current situation than committing financial suicide. The first good news is that medicine happens to be a very broad field. Even if you don't love your job (and I would argue that it's ok not to love it), you can likely find some area of medicine or some job in medicine that you can tolerate, and maybe even like. The other good news is that being an attending is way better than being a resident, if only because you have more control over your work hours via selecting your job. And especially since you don't love your job, I would suggest finding other things (hobbies, relationships, etc.) outside of your work life that you can feel excited and enthusiastic about.

Best of luck to you.
Best post on this issue from someone who has really lived the career change "lifestyle."
 
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eject

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I've really debated about whether to reply. And at this point, I'm writing more about the general feeling in many of the replies here, not really in response to the OP or any particular poster. I'd never conceive of giving advice on residency or career choices. But my experience is really different, and I don't want to seem unsympathetic, but I do think maybe--in case there are people reading this thread who haven't gotten to intern year yet--an alternative view might be warranted.

I'm a surgery intern and I love it. I'm at a program that emphasizes getting into the OR early, which has been fantastic (though often terrifying). But even in this program, the floor work and paperwork can be monstrous. And yet I am excited to come to work most days, and when I leave the hospital, it is often with a great sense of satisfaction in what I learned, or how I helped some patients, or how my hours of paperwork got things done for the team. I'm in total awe of the senior residents--and to some extent even more junior residents. Witnessing their poise at M&M, their skill in the OR, their confidence when faced with trauma or some emergent issue on the floor, etc -- it's all great motivation to read more and try to soak up what's going here. I want to be that resident, and the way they got there was to work hard in this role; so even on the days when it seems rote or just exhausting, it helps to keep that perspective about the long term goals and the unknown unknowns of learning medicine (that is, you don't know what you don't know, and you don't know exactly how this seemingly oppressive "scutwork" will contribute to figuring out bigger, better things).

I'm a career changer--had a pretty good, highly-compensated professional life before this. I had no idea what I was in for, but for me, it has turned out better than I could have imagined. I'm enjoying the work, enjoying what I'm reading and researching, and I look at the folks on the road ahead of me with admiration and an "I want to go to there" sensation.

None of this is to diminish how many in this thread are feeling. And I write it with trepidation because residency is only just starting--maybe it will get a lot worse or something. But for med students or others looking down the road at residency, I'd just say that not everyone is in such a dark place at the start of intern year. Finding oneself in that dark place certainly seems like a grave risk, given what's written above, but some of us are having a different experience.
 
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MediCane2006

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When you're 18, nobody tells you that medicine breaks down people into biological machines rather than something greater than their parts, that this job makes you lose any sense of empathy for the trivial or even modest and reasonable complaint because of all the emergencies, codes and GOC discussions we go through, that you will always feel inadequate and that you don't know (enough) because of how much more there is to read and learn, that you will be crushed under slogs of paperwork, that most of your work will not be intellectually interesting at all but rather the boring ho hum lap chole, kid with ear infection, demented patient with a fall, etc.
I'm sorry this has been your experience but it's not universal, and if you are in residency I can promise you it does get better.

I spend time with my patients in clinic, not just talking about their surgery but about their school performance, Halloween costumes, and new pet. My job is intellectually challenging, exciting, and most days quite rewarding. I do think that the feeling of not knowing enough doesn't ever go away, but I think of it as a challenge to continue to learn and grow as a physician even after residency is over.

Don't let the bad days get you down....
 

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Money, prestige, the nebulous "helping people", and the like, are all very shallow motivators. They may get you to show up each morning, but will never make you enjoy your job. People who actually like their jobs tend to be motivated by less superficial things. If you are smart you'll figure out what that is for you.
I think you're being needlessly confrontational. If I went and polled all the first year med students in the country right now I have no doubt that science/helping people/money/prestige of being a doctor would by far be very very very very common answers to why they were interested in medical school. Especially for people going straight from undergrad to medical school. Do these things change for a lot of people? Of course. But that doesn't mean it wasn't what was on their mind when they were 21. I didn't find my passion in medicine until well into 3rd year.
 
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I think you're being needlessly confrontational. If I went and polled all the first year med students in the country right now I have no doubt that science/helping people/money/prestige of being a doctor would by far be very very very very common answers to why they were interested in medical school. Especially for people going straight from undergrad to medical school. Do these things change for a lot of people? Of course. But that doesn't mean it wasn't what was on their mind when they were 21. I didn't find my passion in medicine until well into 3rd year.
I agree that Med schools give a bye to people coming straight out of college on the "why medicine" question, and let people get away with the poorly thought out " helping people" notion. That's not really the (or my) point. If by the time you get toward the end of med school you realize that kind of superficial fluff is still your main motivation then you will be in for a world of disappointment and will hate your chosen career, period. You have to like the job function, not the superficial fluff or its game over. And medicine is really truly not for everyone, even though I'm sure everyone conceptually likes the idea of helping people, and making money. You need to go deeper than that in your career path due diligence if you don't want to set yourself up for a life of misery.
 

Doctor Bagel

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I agree that Med schools give a bye to people coming straight out of college on the "why medicine" question, and let people get away with the poorly thought out " helping people" notion. That's not really the (or my) point. If by the time you get toward the end of med school you realize that kind of superficial fluff is still your main motivation then you will be in for a world of disappointment and will hate your chosen career, period. You have to like the job function, not the superficial fluff or its game over. And medicine is really truly not for everyone, even though I'm sure everyone conceptually likes the idea of helping people, and making money. You need to go deeper than that in your career path due diligence if you don't want to set yourself up for a life of misery.
I overall agree -- medicine is not the right career for everyone, and admission committees don't have great ways to figure out who will be able to be satisfied with a career in medicine. Careers in medicine vary so much, though, which is a bonus. The difference between doing my job and being a surgeon might not be that different from the difference between my job and being an accountant. So I still have hope for the op and for other people miserable in medicine -- this field is broad, and most people can probably find something that's at least tolerable and hopefully enjoyable.
 

Law2Doc

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I overall agree -- medicine is not the right career for everyone, and admission committees don't have great ways to figure out who will be able to be satisfied with a career in medicine. Careers in medicine vary so much, though, which is a bonus. The difference between doing my job and being a surgeon might not be that different from the difference between my job and being an accountant. So I still have hope for the op and for other people miserable in medicine -- this field is broad, and most people can probably find something that's at least tolerable and hopefully enjoyable.
Except that having to rough it through 3+ years of residency just to hopefully end up with something "tolerable" shouldn't be the approach. I don't think it's the role of Adcoms to decide who is going to like medicine. That's for the applicant to figure out. I'm just saying figure out that you like the job function and you'll be all right -- don't rely on the notion that maybe when you get through school you'll find a role that's tolerable.
 

Doctor Bagel

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Except that having to rough it through 3+ years of residency just to hopefully end up with something "tolerable" shouldn't be the approach. I don't think it's the role of Adcoms to decide who is going to like medicine. That's for the applicant to figure out. I'm just saying figure out that you like the job function and you'll be all right -- don't rely on the notion that maybe when you get through school you'll find a role that's tolerable.
Yeah, but what is the job function? Your job function and my job function are probably pretty different. I'd hate to be a pediatrician or a surgeon yet I really like my current job and wasn't miserable throughout the entire course of my residency.
 

Law2Doc

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Yeah, but what is the job function? Your job function and my job function are probably pretty different. I'd hate to be a pediatrician or a surgeon yet I really like my current job and wasn't miserable throughout the entire course of my residency.
Yes the job functions vary but you certainly could try to figure out if there is ANY specialty job function you are pretty sure you'd enjoy before you set out. You can find something you like even better along the way, or realize that things aren't exactly as they seemed to a premed, or maybe you come to the realization that lifestyle is more of a deal breaker than you originally contemplated. but going in clueless and hoping a job that "helps people" is enough or pays well is enough is what creates all the malcontents in the profession IMHO. You must must must dig deeper. Shadow, volunteer, talk to people who won't whitewash things. Most of the people cursing life and hating what they do didn't do their due diligence.
 

axiomofchoice

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The notion that the right people for medicine will ultimately find happiness is silly. There are crappy aspects to any job. You basically have to like some aspect of your job well enough to tolerate the others. And presto..... career satisfaction

Disliking residency is more concerning I think. Its the time when you can truly practice with impunity. If you don't like it then, maybe change fields.
 

dozitgetchahi

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I agree that Med schools give a bye to people coming straight out of college on the "why medicine" question, and let people get away with the poorly thought out " helping people" notion. That's not really the (or my) point. If by the time you get toward the end of med school you realize that kind of superficial fluff is still your main motivation then you will be in for a world of disappointment and will hate your chosen career, period. You have to like the job function, not the superficial fluff or its game over. And medicine is really truly not for everyone, even though I'm sure everyone conceptually likes the idea of helping people, and making money. You need to go deeper than that in your career path due diligence if you don't want to set yourself up for a life of misery.
I don't disagree with this.

One of the biggest things I told people when I was in the premed phase was that I wanted to become a doc because I thought I would like the job. Sure, i wanted to help people as well, but liking the job seemed most important. Some people looked at me funny because, at that phase, there's this perception that all premeds/doctors need to be 'save the world' Mother Teresa types to be effective or successful.

The biggest things I learned as an intern were 1) you don't need to be a 'Mother Teresa type' to be a good doctor and 2) being one can actually make you a worse doctor.