SCDtoMD

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For current medical residents and experienced physicians alike -
Is it a good idea for someone under 30 y.o. with well managed sickle cell disease (beta thalessemia) to pursue an MD considering your experiences with the stress level and time commitments of medical school and residency? Can someone with chronic anemia do well (considering they have the intellectual capacity to succeed academically)? Do you know of physicians with SCD, and if so, how is their health?

I'm trying to make a decision about whether I should pursue my dream of becoming an MD, or pursue another option like PA. I'm drawn to MD because of the deeper medical knowledge base, but I recognize that PA may have an easier-going/SCD-friendlier schedule than MD.

All advice is welcomed.
 
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FM Hopeful

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For current medical residents and experienced physicians alike -
Is it a good idea for someone under 30 y.o. with well managed sickle cell disease (beta thalessemia) to pursue an MD considering your experiences with the stress level and time commitments of medical school and residency? Can someone with chronic anemia do well (considering they have the intellectual capacity to succeed academically)? Do you know of physicians with SCD, and if so, how is their health?

I'm trying to make a decision about whether I should pursue my dream of becoming an MD, or pursue another option like PA. I'm drawn to MD because of the deeper medical knowledge base, but I recognize that PA may have an easier-going/SCD-friendlier schedule than MD.

All advice is welcomed.

Once you get through residency, the lifestyle decision is yours. You can work part-time or full-time, high stress or low stress, high pay or low pay; you just cant get everything you want in one job.

Have you ever thought about asking someone who specializes in managing SCD?
 
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SCDtoMD

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Once you get through residency, the lifestyle decision is yours. You can work part-time or full-time, high stress or low stress, high pay or low pay; you just cant get everything you want in one job.

Have you ever thought about asking someone who specializes in managing SCD?
Thanks for your reply -- those are good points re: stress-to-pay. I've been with my current hematologist for a couple of months and she advised against it. I want more opinions from physicians ns students who have a more recent memory of what school and residency is like.
 
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AMEHigh

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Thanks for your reply -- those are good points re: stress-to-pay. I've been with my current hematologist for a couple of months and she advised against it. I want more opinions from physicians ns students who have a more recent memory of what school and residency is like.

Maybe ask your doctor more specifically why they advise against if? Get another opinion as well. Any local support groups? Although there might not be any physicians in the group I'm sure they could give you practical knowledge/information about handling the chronic disease with work and life stressors.

Unfortunately the only person that I know with sickle cell disease did pass away during residency from complications of the disease. I don't know any other details, but from what I heard he was relatively healthy up until his passing. That is only an anecdote though and there are people with chronic diseases who are in medical school, residency and practicing physicians.
 

SCDtoMD

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Yeah, I'm hoping that this thread can be a sounding board for as many opinions as I can get since there aren't support groups in my area. I've been really fortunate in knowing what my triggers are. Quite unfortunate to hear about the physician who passed away, but I appreciate the honesty.
 

KShah1

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Unless you are about to hit submit for your applications, or are holding acceptances to both, I wouldn't worry about this until you are actually about to cross either bridge.
 

SCDtoMD

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Unless you are about to hit submit for your applications, or are holding acceptances to both, I wouldn't worry about this until you are actually about to cross either bridge.
Hmm, I'm guessing your sentiment is that the process is lengthy and highly competitive, but it's for those exact reasons that I would want to make sure I'm setting myself up for success. I would hate to put in all the effort towards a dream that won't materialize into a fruitful (and healthy) career.
 

Ismet

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Unless you are about to hit submit for your applications, or are holding acceptances to both, I wouldn't worry about this until you are actually about to cross either bridge.

Kinda doesn't make sense to train for the marathon and then bail out at the starting line.
 
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KShah1

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Kinda doesn't make sense to train for the marathon and then bail out at the starting line.

No less then worrying about whether one will place 1st or 2nd without even being in shape to last the first mile.
 
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Dr G Oogle

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A good friend of mine had SCD in Med school and went to do peds residency. She is happy and did well, I remember her having to be admitted once or twice in med school but otherwise she had no major hiccups and graduated in the top 10% of our class.
 

Raryn

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Sickle cell disease has an extremely wide range of presentation that makes this question impossible to answer.

There's perfectly functional sicklers who lead a normal life except when they might have a rare exacerbation that requires a short hospitalization... And then there's people who have been admitted every 2-3 months since they were 10 years old, have had multiple strokes in adolescence, require very high dose opiates daily due to tolerance built up during pain crisis admissions, and are basically unable to hold a normal job. And there's everybody in between.

If you're closer to the former than the latter, I don't see any reason why you can't do medical school. If you're closer to the latter, then it's probably not a good idea.

The physician training process *will* put strain on your body once you hit clinic rotations and even more in residency. You'll be missing the occasional (or significantly more than occasional depending on the field) nights sleep, meal, and may even have difficulty remaining adequately hydrated. You're the only one that knows how that will affect you, and if you think you won't be able to function in those circumstances, I'd be cautious regarding moving forward.
 
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SCDtoMD

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Sickle cell disease has an extremely wide range of presentation that makes this question impossible to answer.

There's perfectly functional sicklers who lead a normal life except when they might have a rare exacerbation that requires a short hospitalization... And then there's people who have been admitted every 2-3 months since they were 10 years old, have had multiple strokes in adolescence, require very high dose opiates daily due to tolerance built up during pain crisis admissions, and are basically unable to hold a normal job. And there's everybody in between.

If you're closer to the former than the latter, I don't see any reason why you can't do medical school. If you're closer to the latter, then it's probably not a good idea.

The physician training process *will* put strain on your body once you hit clinic rotations and even more in residency. You'll be missing the occasional (or significantly more than occasional depending on the field) nights sleep, meal, and may even have difficulty remaining adequately hydrated. You're the only one that knows how that will affect you, and if you think you won't be able to function in those circumstances, I'd be cautious regarding moving forward.

I'm one of those patients that gets sick once every few years... I've been lucky enough to manage most of my pain with low dose meds. So, I am the former. I guess there's always the fear that I'll push myself too hard (or that medical school/residency will push ME too hard) and I'll ruin my health. But it's really good to see everyone's replies on the subject, good and bad. There aren't many robust resources for Sicklers, and often we're painted as drug-seeking with poor life outcomes. Obviously, that's not universally true.
 
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SCDtoMD

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Anyone else have advice? ...trying to revive the thread to see if there are new/more perspectives on this.
 

siliso

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Agree with Raryn. Beta + or beta 0 thal? Either way if you have good functional status and good quality of life and can tolerate stress, sleep deprivation and long hours without an impairing level of medication then it’s doable.
 
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