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Life of a Primary Care doc

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by DblHelix, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. DblHelix

    DblHelix Member
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    So many of DO grads go into primary care. What are all your thoughts on the ****ty lifestyle of Family practice and other primary care doctors? i.e. overworked, underpaid, unable to spend any time with patients, etc.
     
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  3. Shodddy18

    Shodddy18 Senior Member
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    You know I think just about all physicians are overworked and underpaid! And if you ask me, I think surgeons and some specialists have much crappier lifestyles than primary care docs. With the increase in the numbers of hospitalists and intensivists, I think the days of primary care docs rounding on hospital floors and in the sku are comming to and end... which means less time on call for primary care docs.
     
  4. bla_3x

    bla_3x Grip it and rip it!
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    The PCPs that I have rotated with thus far have really loved what they do. They spnd anywhere from 10-30 min with their pts. They tend to like the busy days..they really do go by faster. That being said I have found already that primary care is very much NOT for me (it's way too passive).
    Its true that a lot of DO grads go into it...there are just a lot of people who really like that type of medcine. It doesnt mean at all that going to a DO school marks you as a PCP-to-be from the start. I just hope that people who choose a particular specialty do it b/c they really enjoy that specialty.
     
  5. raspberry swirl

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    i just finished my FP rotation. i worked with a doc who didnt work on thursdays. his first patient is at 8:30, and his last is scheduled for 3:15. generally speaking i was always home by 4, often earlier. he doesn't have to round at the hospital, because he has a hospitalist. he's in a big group, and only has to take weekend call once every 6 weeks. and the call is just over the phone- he travels. as long as he can answer his cell phone, its cool. (all you have to do is tell people either come to the office monday, go to the urgent care center, or go to the ER. there's really only 3 options). he does a fair amount of small procedures- some derm stuff, joint injections, etc. he takes a lot of people without insurance and just charges them nurse visists, regardless of what they come in for. despite all this, he's got a giant house, a nice car, and just took 10 days off to go to italy. not bad if you ask me. granted, he has no wife or kids to suck his money dry, and his girlfriend is a drug rep making her own money . . .
     
  6. somnolent

    somnolent Member
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    now there is a career with a great lifestyle. pcp or not, he's living the dream.
     
  7. DblHelix

    DblHelix Member
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    Sounds like a great life...those damn meddling kids always bring us down :rolleyes: !

    But seriously though, thanks for the story. I guess we can agree that if you really want to go into primary care and you want a decent life, you can make it work somehow.

    Hey Bla 3x, what do you mean by PCP being too passive?
     
  8. OSUdoc08

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    PCP is an ergot alkaloid. It can be used to treat migraines and postpartum bleeding.

    edit: I'm kidding.
     
  9. DrMom

    DrMom Official Mom of SDN
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    In this thread, and much more commonly in general, PCP is primary care provider.
     
  10. OSUdoc08

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    Good call.
     
  11. tkim

    tkim 10 cc's cordrazine
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    *ZING*
     
  12. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    we people going into medicine have such a skewed view of salaries because in no other world is making $100+ considered unpaid regardless of how hard you work. associates at big law firms make about $100k a year and are expected to work pretty much every second of their waking lives. most people in the corporate world never break that $100k line unless you become a vice president, and the odds of doing that are small. there was a time when computer programmers made about $100k, but they were also expected to work all the time and now have to deal with huge job instability.

    the average fp doc makes something like $130k according to places like salary.com. even if you pay $20k a year in loans, you're still doing better than most people. as for the lifestyle, i think if you can eliminate the hospital thing, then it's okay. if you can use a hospitalist or just have someone else in your group see your hospital patients, i think the lifestyle would be great. being a hospitalist would also be pretty cool, and that's primary care.
     
  13. (nicedream)

    (nicedream) Fitter Happier
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    The difference is

    A. The effort of getting into medical school
    B. The effort of succeeding in 4 years of medical school to match into a residency of choice
    C. $200k in debt from medical school
    D. Going through years of underpaid overworked residency
    E. Dealing with ungrateful litigious patients
    F. Getting paid by a 3rd party over which they have no control
     
  14. bones

    bones Osteopathic Physician
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    I have seen more happy DO's in primary care than MD's, but it really does depend on the individual. Most docs who are angry in primary care are pissed because they cant spend enough time with patients, they feel powerless to help their patients, they just plain dont like their patients, or they look at how much their classmates are making for less work and get jealous.

    With the goal of osteopathy being to find the causes of diseases (thus, every patient is a puzzle which can be figured out), and our ability to bill for OMM (which is optional if your manual skills are really good- you could just run a cash practice)... there is a lot going for DO's. Those that insist on practicing just like MD's are just as bitter as the MD's in primary care i've shadowed, but those that use their hands and enjoy their time with their patients using the mind/body/spirit approach are probably some of the happiest physicians I've seen.


    If you want to practice like an allopath though, the "ROAD" to happiness in medicine is more or less correct:
    Radiology
    Opthimology
    Anesthesiology
    Dermatology

    These seem to be the happiest MD's and non-osteopathic DO's i've seen. There are those in other specialties who love the art of their work or like the challenge, but only a few are really happy when you look at them (usually those that practice outside the box). Most internal med docs, surgeons and PCP's look frustrated and stressed. not all of course... but i think its fair to say most.

    hope that helps
     
  15. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    i still think people who gripe about being a doctor choose their unhappiness. for example, look at option e -- if you view your patients as ungrateful and litigious, you're probably going to be less happy. in reality, some of your patients are ungrateful and litigious, but most aren't. how you view it is all a matter of perspective. as for the rest, other people work hard, too, and still make less money. doctors also have much more autonomy than your average employee, and they don't get laid off. the $200k in debt from school amounts to about $20k a year in loan repayment, which still puts fp docs above most even high wage earners. yeah, residents are overworked, but they make $40 to $50k a year, which is more than i make now.

    let's look at other job families. my sister has a ph.d. in comparative literature, which took her about 7 years to get. through a combination of hard work and luck, she got a tenure track job and then earned tenure but still would top out at about $60k. however, her husband (an accountant) got transferred and couldn't find another job in their city, so they had to move. now she's an adjunct at a local school with no benefits and really low pay in spite of that ph.d.. now try to telling me that it's so hard to be an fp doc with that guaranteed employment pretty much anywhere and $120k salary.
     
  16. bones

    bones Osteopathic Physician
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    I really do understand your sentiment, but when you get out there you see the situation -much- differently. I cant tell you how many docs have told me they wish they could go back and skip med school and do something else with their lives, even if the pay was a lot less. Med school and internship takes years off your life. At some point there are things in life worth more than money, and no matter what your pay it is just not enough. There is genuine frustration among docs, and it is hard to understand for premeds and those in other professions.

    This said, there are still areas of medicine that are FUN and less-stressful (see my above post).
     
  17. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    but isn't this true with virtually every profession? maybe my background is different because i did the law thing before, and believe me, there's a profession full of really unhappy people. in fact, i know a lot of unhappy teachers, a lot of unhappy people in IT, unhappy accountants etc. i still think that doctors like all people lack greater perspective and somehow think their misery is greater than everyone else's.

    i also firmly believe that if most doctors had other professions or lives before going into medicine, they wouldn't complain as much because, again, they'd have some perspective.
     
  18. bones

    bones Osteopathic Physician
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    Unhappiness is certainly not relegated to physicians... but my point is- unhappiness in medicine does seem to vary some by specialty.

    The fear of the OP is that primary care seems to hold many unhappy physicians compared to other specialties in medicine- and I think this is true... but not merely because of their income. There are many reasons. I do however think the DO path gives us tools that allow many PCP DO's to be very happy in the work they do, regardless of income.

    P.S. I think physicians on the whole have quite a bit of perspective. The frustration has little to do with being spoiled or ignorant.
     
  19. OnMyWayThere

    OnMyWayThere OMS-III
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    Primary care docs can have such a wonderful lifestyle. It can be rewarding in many way, including financially - you just can't do "traditional" medicine anymore. I know of primary care docs grossing 1 million dollars - I don't know how much the overhead is, but they're living a real good life.
     
  20. DblHelix

    DblHelix Member
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    Thanks everyone! So i think the bottom line here is that being a DO affords you an additional option to be a PCP and have a profitable (both financially and mentally/emotionally) lifestyle. If anyone else has any stories of those happy PCPs i'd love to hear it!
     
  21. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    i know happy pcp's who aren't do's. honestly, i think the happy pcp's are the people who wanted to be a pcp. the unhappy ones are the ones who did it because they had to. there are things about being a pcp (human interaction, continuity of care, diversity of treatment) that make it a great fit for lots of people.
     
  22. bones

    bones Osteopathic Physician
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    never disagreed with any of this if you read my above post. I know happy MD pcp's as well. To be a happy PCP though you need to think and practice a little out of the box- and MOST practice right in the middle of it. Skill with OMM, osteopathy, or knowledge in areas of alternative/integrative medicine make this a lot easier and more fun imo, and allow you to skip many of the pitfalls.
    :D
     

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