Lifestyle as a categorical General surg resident?

Discussion in 'Surgery and Surgical Subspecialties' started by PoorMD, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. PoorMD

    PoorMD Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    1
    After a days work, are you devoid of all interest and energy for your own "pursuit of happiness?" Wen you get home, are you too tired to work out and stay in decent physical shape? I am curious because, well, I am looking for a "balanced" life. I am not a gunner, and in no way have my **** 100% organized and perfect, so I guess as a general surg I might be a bit off with my schedule and maybe never get another good jog in again? Maybe never be able to shoot hoops (on a regular schedule). That would suck, unless I started to really delve deeper in the science of "surgeory" and just spent my life in the books/cases/clinics.

    ...But I was never like that.. Maybe I was born to be outside in the woods sometimes, you know? I see those dedicated Middle-Eastern (and far Eastern) students who spend every waking moment studying. God (Allah?) bless them, they work forever on their *beloved* material. I really find medicine interesting, but man I want to chill! I want to go play some video games or something after I've studied for four or five hours. I was born (a lazy American) with a work ethic that is good enough to rise to most any academic challenges, but I generally don't "study that extra mile out of sheer love for the topic." Flame me up, please. I can take it.



    I'm an MSI, and I fear the lifestyle as a general surgeon might disrupt life's balance with me.
     
  2. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
    Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2001
    Messages:
    9,050
    Likes Received:
    140
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Hi there,
    I am a PGY-4 General Surgery resident who will do a fellowship in Vascular Surgery. I have plenty of balance in my life. I even did my intern year under the old system (before 80-hour work week). The thing is that I actually LOVE what I do so that makes getting the studying and technical work more fun. I am far from the person who sits around hugging a book but I keep up with my reading and studying. Any resident will have to read and study or you will not pass boards. You can't pick up everything that you need in conferences.

    You will have plenty of time for the things that you set as a priorty. I am also fortunate in that there is a wonderful Aquatic and Fitness Center that opens early in the morning and stays open late at night. I can drop by there before I go home and workout with no problem. Many of my fellow residents and my program director are marathoners but I hate running after 10 miles. There is a fitness center located in the hospital too which comes in handy. If nothing else, I run the steps (10 floors from basement to top).

    I love my X-Box 360 more than most things and I still get my reading and work-out done. I have found that taking the time to be in good physical condition actually gives me more time and more energy at home to do the video games and even play a bit of basketball (I keep my basket ball with me in the call room; never know when you can snag a pick-up game). I also love the microbrews too.

    You do not have to enter the monastery to do surgery. As you get further along in medical school, you will figure out how make the time for things that you love. I was far from being a NERD ([k]Narly Ever-Loving Rightous Dude) and find that I need to get away from my medical and surgical brethern on a regular basis for balance.

    Good luck!
    njbmd :)
     
  3. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Well, njbmd is much more balanced than I. (undoubtedly in many ways! ;) )

    I stopped exercising my intern year and gained a fair bit of weight. I was tired and in a new relationship and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym. I wanted to go home, cook a nice meal for the both of us, and fall asleep on the couch.

    BUT...as njbmd attests, there is no reason you have to be that way. It was a choice I made and while I'm paying for it now (and working hard on the Elliptical to lose the weight before fellowship). I don't really regret it; I spent time with someone I love.

    You simply have to make priorities and be organized. If that means reading over a potential lunch break rather than sitting in the call room goofing off, then so be it. That means you have more time at night to read, go out with your friends, etc. You simply must decide what is most important to you and find a way to fit that it.

    No reason to "flame you up" - while you and others may chastize you for not eating/sleeping/breathing and living surgery, there is no reason to feel guilty. Be the best surgeon and person you can be - if you are happier climbing around some dirty ol' mountain then do it. You'll be a better surgeon if you have a fulfulling life outside of medicine - its up to you to figure out what fulfills you and how to attain that.
     
  4. surg

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2001
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    39
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    As a resident I was more in the Kimberli Cox mode of home-bodiness, but my fellow residents who enjoyed that sort of thing included those that worked out virtually every day, some that played on intramural teams (admittedly not making every game) in virtually every sport imaginable. A number of runners in my former program including a few who did 1/2 and full marathons. It is all a matter of priorities. You will work hard, you will keep up with your reading, but those that wanted, definitely played hard too. And those of us who were couch potatoes... well we did that with intensity too! :)
     
  5. driedcaribou

    driedcaribou Senior Member
    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2003
    Messages:
    482
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Compared to your colleagues in other training programs.. did you find you had a lot less free time then they had?

    I've always assumed that you'd have no life as a Gen Surg Resident and after that and that's what's actually scaring me from pursing surgery.

    I am afraid that I will only have time to go to work and then physical exercise and have no time for a social life.... and thus die a hermit. :(
     
  6. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician

    Let me guess...you've never had a full-time job.

    There are plenty of people with jobs that work 80 hrs per week outside of medicine. And while I have less time than my friends in Psych, FP and Path residencies, my internal medicine collegeaues (especially the interns) work pretty hard as do the GI fellows and radiology residents.

    Presuming your program adheres to the 80 hr workweek, there are still plenty of hours left in the week. Again, its all about prioritizing. If you work, let's say 12 hours per day (on a non-call day), that still leaves you time to do a little reading, some exercising, perhaps have dinner or drinks with friends and get to bed at a decent hour. And after residency, you may find that controlling your hours is easier, especially if in a large group and willing to make a little less in exchange for fewer hours.

    Anyway, this has been a perennial topic - you might want to do a search and look for other threads dealing with the same.
     
  7. fourthyear

    fourthyear Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Messages:
    449
    Likes Received:
    4

    YES we have a lot less free time as surgery residents than any other specialty. Intern years are comparable I think, but after that most non-surgery programs have a much lighter call schedule - many months without call at all even in things like medicine or peds where they just do clinic or consult services. Radiology may take call throughout, but the pace of their work is much more relaxed than a surgery residents', so I can't imagine they really feel as tired as we do after a night of call - plus, at my program they generally go home around 8-9 am post call, wheras we work till about noon most times. Same with anesthesia residents - call ends around 7am, giving you an extra 5 hours free to rest vs. a surgery resident who works till noon (not to mention there are more of them so they take 1/2 as many calls/month as we do at least at my program).

    This will all vary from program to program, but I have to say in general, yes, it is true that surgery residents spend more nights and more long shifts in the hospital consistently all 5 years vs. residents of any other specialty. We are maxed out on our 80 hours nearly every week for 5 years. Since most of the time you are enjoying your work, especially when you get to be in the OR, it doesn't all seem like work so much, but you are physically there in the hospital ALOT. You can definitely find time for a fulfilling personal life, but it will be scaled back somewhat from your pre-residency life and I'd have to say this IS more true with surgery than anything else.

    I know we're all these superman/superwoman people who think we can do it all and we all love surgery anyway, but I don't want to let the young students think this is something everyone can handle. I've seen quite a few young residnets disillusioned b/c they thought the 80 hour workweek was going to make it easy and the truth is a surgery resident's life is not easy and does take some sacrifice of your other free time and you have to accept that going into the job.
     
  8. driedcaribou

    driedcaribou Senior Member
    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2003
    Messages:
    482
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    I have in several jobs. One was as a construction worker.
    Got up at 5 am to go to work and got home at 5 pm everyday and worked 6 days a week at least 2 weeks per month and sometimes 7 days a week if the site was approaching its deadline.

    I went to the gym after work at night maybe 4 times a week but I didn't have to do anything like study or read up on anything... no take home work, no responsibility.
    I found I didn't have as much energy for running or martial arts though.
    It was really rough on the back and I think surgery will be rough on the back as well but in a different way.

    In terms of social life- it really killed mine because a lot of my friends were still in University or had jobs whose schedules conflicted with mine. I didn't want to hang out Friday night if I wanted to work early Sat morning.
    I liked my co-workers but they were just too different from me to have a good social relationship with them.. besides, after spending the whole day with them, I didn't want to spend more time with them.

    I just figured medicine/surgery was different because you have to study etc....


    But thank you very much for your insight on the matter. I am sorry I didn't do a search before asking the question.
     
  9. driedcaribou

    driedcaribou Senior Member
    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2003
    Messages:
    482
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    See, I am scared ****less of the 80 hour work week. I don't know if surgery is what I want to do yet so I want to leave the option open.

    I hear horror stories about divorce rates etc...

    My friend's father was a cardiothoracic surgeon and he always complained to me that he never saw his dad much when he was growing up. But I have a feeling that perhaps his dad was a bit on the workaholic side to begin with.

    I just wanted to get a feel for how you're dealing with the work situation now etc.

    But it seems to me that you're all coping very well and I congratulate you all for that because I don't know if I'd be able to do the same.

    I feel like I'm still not sure of where I want to be in my life and am afraid that surgery give me an excuse to put my life on hold.
     
  10. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Sorry for the presumption I made. It is not uncommon for posters who have never held a full time job to freak about the hours, without realizing that lots of people work more than 40 hrs per week.

    Sounds like you've worked pretty hard in your life up to this point. While we do have to read as well as get all the other stuff in life done, remember no one is asking or expecting you to read hours per night. Honestly a good half hour per night is probably adequate, with more on weekends and vacations if possible. I think you should be able to fit it all in.

    I think you'll also find your colleagues will have more in common, at least professional interests. If you're at a large program with lots of residents and other allied health employees, you can usually find people, if not surgery residents, with similar social interests. It can be challenging to meet people outside of the hospital, but it just takes more time and creativity (ie, take up a hobby, etc.)
     
  11. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    Depends on the program. The reason I mentioned it is that we get a lot of trauma being a Level 1 center and we have only 1 radiology resident in house a night - responsible for all traumas, ER and floor tests and readings. its hardly a relaxed call most nights. They don't go home until all of the exams from the night before are read and dictated which can mean they're here until 12 as well (of course, they haven't worked for 30 hrs but the swing shift can be exhausting).
     
  12. Just like in high school, college, med school and beyond, residency life is what you make of it. Plenty of residents exercise, read, socialize, hang out, etc. outside of the hospital - you just have to prioritize and pursue what's important to you. Lots of the single residents here socialize when they can, go out, meet people, etc. Others who are in relationships, engaged or married may prefer to have more quiet dinners, read at home, watch movies, etc. Our intern class is very close, so we try to hang out whenever we can (usually only 3-5 at a time, with our varied call schedules) to chat, eat and drink. Again, whatever's important to you.
     
  13. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    CT does traditionally have bad hours, with lots of emergencies. Even without the differences in the fields (ie, btwn Gen Surg and CT), YOU are the deciding factor in how much time you spend with your children. It is true that even as an attending you will most likely work more than 40 hours per week, but there are still lots of hours left to spend with your children...you simply have to make it a priority (like everything else).

    Divorce rates are high amongst physicians period...are they higher in surgery? Perhaps but that may be a factor related to personality rather than the training. Those that I know who divorced during residency likely did so because they, IMHO, neglected their spouse, not solely because of the hours (that means, you pay lots of attention to the SO when you are home, call when you're not, etc.).
     
  14. DrDawg

    DrDawg Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    304
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    By the fact that I'm reading and posting on this thread would have to attest to my free time, and others as well.
    I am an intern in the modern 88 or so hour era which means more or so, but by choice. I have managed to do outdoor activities, have drinks with other residents, spend time with my significant other, and read. Generally however not all in one day, and maybe not all in one week. It all depends on you individual priorities. If you can relish in the one day a week you do run, rather than dread the six days a week you don't then you'll do just fine. Remember intern year in most programs will be tough. The important thing is that you chose a career that you will enjoy for 20 to 30 years, vs a residency that is convient to you life style.
     
  15. toxic-megacolon

    toxic-megacolon Toxic Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2004
    Messages:
    555
    Likes Received:
    6
    I think people's baseline sleep requirement really determines how much of a life you can have. Lots of lucky people who thrive on 4-5 hours/night can have an active life. Personally, if I don't get 7 or more for several nights in a row, I turn in to a real A$$. I'll be one of those people with no life :( (at least until I finish residency)
     
  16. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I"m not much of a sleeper, a bit of an insomniac really. So while I don't need much sleep, I can't sleep when I need to.
     
  17. TIGER STYLE

    TIGER STYLE Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2001
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    0

    Do you guys find your yourselves waking up like 5 times a night, making sure your alarm is really on?! And when you see the "on" light, you still don't trust it, so you turn the alarm off...and then turn it back on again just to make sure? It's better now, but the first couple months of internship I was doing that a lot. Ok, I'm crazy!
     
  18. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I've never needed to use an alarm because I only sleep in 90 minute (or so) snippets. I can sort of program myself to wake at a certain time but usually wake before then anyway. I rarely oversleep and only use an alarm for things like early am flight, etc. which would be crucial not to miss. Unfortunately, alarms make me jittery so I hate using them.

    However, you are right - I often would wake as an intern when my pager *wasn't* going off, just in case it was "broken". Alas it never was! :laugh:
     
  19. if you are in your first year of medical school, it is way too early to worry about general surgery..... wait until your third year and your gen surg rotation, and talk to the residents first hand.......
     
  20. driedcaribou

    driedcaribou Senior Member
    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2003
    Messages:
    482
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]

    Holy crow... that's amazing!

    :eek:
     
  21. SocialistMD

    SocialistMD Resident Objectivist
    15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2001
    Messages:
    2,913
    Likes Received:
    14
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    Last night was my first night of home-call. I slept in 15 minute snippets because I was afraid I would miss a page or something. I got up this morning just as tired as I am when I don't sleep at all on call. I just can't wait until I'm a chief on constant home-call. ;)
     
  22. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    While being a chief on "Constant home call" sounds great, there are some disadvantages...namely being paged constantly (especially in July :p ) and occasionally having to go back in. But it does beat sleeping in a call room bed.

    We still have to take in house call a couple of times a month as Chiefs; unfortunately, we can't cover traumas using just the 4th years and keep them under hours.
     
  23. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
    Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Expert Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    38,779
    Likes Received:
    27,117
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    More irritating than anything - I guess I"m too tightly wound to ever really relax! :D
     
  24. DrDawg

    DrDawg Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    304
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    Yeah I do that too! I wakeup about every 90minutes. The only good sleep I get is postcall. Oh and even when I'm awake I check my pager. "Is this thing working?" Im breaking myself of that habbit really quick thou


     

Share This Page