Feb 1, 2010
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Pre-Medical
Recently I have been seriously considering the demanding lifestyle of MDs. I wouldn't mind so much training if it would invariably lead to 80+ hr. weeks until I retire. Is working part-time realistic both professionally and financially? I would be willing to take a reasonable pay cut as long as I can still pay my loans off :) I'd love to pursue an MD degree but I'm seriously considering PA school just because I don't want to not ever have children or even a dog! Has anyone heard of anyone who has been able to find a better balance between lifestyle and career?
 
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Drrrrrr. Celty

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There are many specialties that provide good hours. Also if you own your own practice then you make your own hours.
 

AH3

Mar 3, 2010
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If you own your own practice, you will have to build it. So it could mean a lot of time early on, but less time once you are established. ER docs have good hours- I've heard of a lot that work for about half the month. Radiologists also have great hours from what I've heard. I wouldn't suggest surgery, especially ones that require very demanding call schedules like trauma and ortho.
 
Jan 4, 2010
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My mom is a pediatrician and she did part time locum tenans work while my sister and I were in elementary and middle school so that she could spend time at home with us. Of course my dad was working full time so that the family didn't go broke.

I think working part time as an M.D. in certain specialties is certainly feasible, depending on your income objectives. If you are trying to live in L.A. or New York, while supporting a spouse and two children, pay a mortgage and save for retirement, private colleges for the kids and pay off $200,000 in student debt - this part time plan might not work so well. :)
 
Dec 30, 2009
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I asked my internist a few weeks ago how many hours a week he works, because if I do well on the MCATs there is a chance I might shadow him and he said typically he works 50-60 hours a week in private practice, he owns his own practice and has a NP in with him! I don't think thats too bad, consider the avg IM doc in NJ makes about $173k!

One thing that is helping both primary care docs, but definitely not us patients, my healthcare system no longer allows our internists or family practicioners to have hospital call or come see their patients while in the hospital; if we are admitted into the hospital we are under the care of these foolish hospitalist who don't know us from atom and then when we are discharged we get to see our primary care doctor! I think this is absolutely a violation of patient rights and when my Mom and I were both in the hospital last year and we asked to have our internist manage our care they basically said too bad, they can't do anything; apparently this is new policy for our hospital system within the last 2 years and I don't like it at all!

most of the other healthcare systems in NJ have not adopted this stupid policy but I've read more and more or going to as time comes on to make more room for hospitalist to have a more bigger role in each hospital! I don't care what they think is best, if I'm the patient and I want my doctor to care for me, I have that right as the patient, not some hospitalist who doesn't know me or my history from atom and didn't even care to sit down and hear my history when I first met him! then when you are discharged from the hospital back to your primary care physician, he doesn't know jack squat, why your were in the hospital and you have to tell him everything that happens!

does make life a lot easier for the internists and family practicioners when they don't have to go to the hospital anymore! luckily I was still able to have my specialists called to come in and see me, namely my neurologist and allergist!
 
Feb 1, 2010
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Ohio
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Thanks guys. I'm still not convinced I'll be able to have much of a life if I pursue an MD degree. I know the R.O.A.D.(E) specialties are known for being lifestyle friendly but I'd really prefer primary care. I've consider pathology (reasonable hours) but I don't think it will be enough patient contact for my preferences. I guess you can't have your cake and eat it too...I'll have to figure out what is the most important to me I guess :(
 

futureIDdoc

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Dec 18, 2009
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Don't female physicians who have recently had kids often pair up to split a shift between them or something, so that they each work half the usual load? Its been a while since I was informed of this practice so I may be off. However, if people do that - why not just find another physician who wants to work half and split shifts with them?
 

45408

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For most specialties, you won't be able to start out part-time. Even the most challenging specialties allow you to go part-time eventually, but it might be decades. I know semi-retired general surgeons, but they're over 60.

There are a few specialties that lend themselves to lighter hours, but maybe not part-time, like psychiatry or PM&R. Then there are a few specialties that easily allow for large blocks of free time, like being an ER doc (although you'll be working very odd hours, including third shift) or being a hospitalist. Most hospitalist arrangements that I've heard about include working 1-2 weeks straight including the weekend, 60-70 hours per week, and then 1-2 weeks off.
 
Mar 11, 2010
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I'm not sure it makes much sense to do solo private practice anymore. The administrative overhead is brutal. Dentists have a better margin, but the stress of running an office and practicing drive many of them into personal ruin.

Reality: After med school, you will have to pay those loans back over many years. Anybody with real work experience knows that $150K gross is not even close to $150K net after taxes, nevermind after debt repayment.

OP, have you considered PA?
 

Appless

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I'm not sure it makes much sense to do solo private practice anymore. The administrative overhead is brutal. Dentists have a better margin, but the stress of running an office and practicing drive many of them into personal ruin.

Reality: After med school, you will have to pay those loans back over many years. Anybody with real work experience knows that $150K gross is not even close to $150K net after taxes, nevermind after debt repayment.

OP, have you considered PA?
truth. I always see premeds say like omg 150k is great you guys have no idea what you are talking about. After taxes you are near 100k (espeically with obamas new plan and bush tax cuts going by the wayside). So you are a about 8k a month. Then 3k a month in student loans. So net you are making like 5k a month woo hooo. 12 years of your life to make as much as your local manager of safeway lol. Im not complaining as i knew this going its just sorta odd how people dont think what 150k gross means as a physician with huge loan payments let alone a family.
 

morning

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Feb 6, 2010
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If you really want to do primary care, may as well go into EM...shift work and you'll be seeing a LOT of primary care type issues.
 

FirefighterDoc

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i've never seen the E in there before. are you putting that in for emergency medicine?
Yeah, its a relatively new thing adding emergency medicine to the mix because of its lifestyle desirability. While the lifestyle may be comparable to the others, IMO it doesn't Seen nearly as difficult to get into
 

LizzyM

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Yes, part-time is feasible, particularly if you work in a large group practice, but you will take a big hit on income. If you want to do this while raising kids, it makes sense. Basically it means that you would work fewer hours per week in the office/clinic/outpatient setting and take call less frequently for night and weekend issues if that is even a part of your practice. (Some clinics don't even offer after-hours service and patients are directed to the emergency room when the clinic is closed).

Dog? Earn enough and you can hire a dog walker or get the kids to walk the dog.

I work with many mid-career physicians. They have time (make time) for what they enjoy whether it is their kids' dance shows, training for marathons, earning additional degrees (JD, MPH, MBA), or home improvement projects. Many have spouses who are not physicians and that does take some of the pressure off but two-doc couples seem to be able to enjoy themselves, too, and make time for their kids.
 

Tatastrophy

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I work with many mid-career physicians. They have time (make time) for what they enjoy whether it is their kids' dance shows, training for marathons, earning additional degrees (JD, MPH, MBA), or home improvement projects. Many have spouses who are not physicians and that does take some of the pressure off but two-doc couples seem to be able to enjoy themselves, too, and make time for their kids.
that's great news for me :) wasn't sure there would be time to seriously train.
 
Feb 1, 2010
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Ohio
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Pre-Medical
OP, have you considered PA?
Actually I am currently in the process of making that decision. My heart is in MD but the PA lifestyle is tempting. I know you aren't supposed to make a decision based on that but I think a lot of people don't think of the consequences of choosing this career. Some days I try to talk myself into PA because my life would be so much easier, lol...but I just can't do it.

The best compromise for me is probably just to find a speciality that is more lifestyle friendly than others. I enjoy learning about medicine and I know I would enjoy my job (well, most days, lol) but I have interests outside of medicine too.
 

Appless

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Actually I am currently in the process of making that decision. My heart is in MD but the PA lifestyle is tempting. I know you aren't supposed to make a decision based on that but I think a lot of people don't think of the consequences of choosing this career. Some days I try to talk myself into PA because my life would be so much easier, lol...but I just can't do it.

The best compromise for me is probably just to find a speciality that is more lifestyle friendly than others. I enjoy learning about medicine and I know I would enjoy my job (well, most days, lol) but I have interests outside of medicine too.
Actually i would argue thats the one thing no pre med thinks about and possibly one of the most important factors you should consider:). Especially for woman i think if kids and all that are something important to you then PA may be a great job. I mean you wont be the one in charge per say, but you will make decent money 100k+ and not have as much stress or hours (or devastatingly long schooling).

I know several part time docs in peds who are part of a larger private practice, that could also be a way for you.
 
Aug 6, 2009
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Are you thinking part-time as in 20 hrs a week? Or are you looking at more of a normal 40hr week (which is about half of what many docs work)?

I think it would extremely difficult to work 20-25 hrs a week especially starting out, but I'm sure you could find a way. As far as a 40hr work week, its up to you. I know an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint replacement and he does surgery 2 days a week and is in clinic 2 days a week both of which are ~8hr days. On fridays he comes in to the hospital unit with his PA and sees his patients and writes orders. (30-60 mins) He then has the rest of friday-sunday off. His PA covers him if needed, but he usually doesn't have any patients on the weekend anyway. The nurses always call his PA first. Seems like a pretty good system to me, but again I'm sure it didn't start out that way.
 
Feb 1, 2010
245
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Ohio
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Are you thinking part-time as in 20 hrs a week? Or are you looking at more of a normal 40hr week (which is about half of what many docs work)?
40 would definately be ideal but even up to 50 would be feasible. I just don't want to regret missing my life because of my work, or my work because of my life. I know, I know...it seems like I always end up chasing my tail, haha.
 

brianmartin

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Emergency medicine will be your friend. Lots of patient contact, lots of primary care medicine, and make your own hours. Not too good if you like routine though.