Drp695

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I admit I am in a bit of an internal conflict. I have always loved the brain and been completely fascinated by the procedures in neurosurgery. I have been driven to it since picking up my first book on neuroscience in my freshman year in college. However, as I got into medical school, I have since been dissuaded from the path because of the lifestyle associated with it. Most people (not in medical field) tell me that it is not conducive to a family life (even post residency) and I will eventually become completely burnt out by the complexity of procedures, lawsuits, and grueling work-life balance.

I have since been pursuing otolaryngology fairly hard with a focus on either facial plastics or neurotology (I am leaning toward neurotology for obvious reasons). I have been to some ENT department grand rounds and always find myself interested in the schwanomas and neurotology cases. I feel like this is an obvious sign that I will always truly love neurosurgery, and may end up regretting not looking into it further in the future.

So, I am doing my due diligence now before I need to make a decision (I am entering as an MS2). I want to know from people in the field--is this all really true? Is life after residency (I know residency for any surgical specialty is somewhat of a nightmare) really that bad? Can I not have a good work-life balance with this field? Will I be more likely to become burnt out?

And yes...I know matching is super difficult already. However, I am currently doing an auditory and vestibular neuroscience fellowship which covers both ENT and neurosurgery in my opinion. I also am a very good test taker and will study extremely hard for the boards for either ENT or neurosurgery.
 

mmmcdowe

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Do you like spine surgery? If so do neurosurgery. We are blessed in medicine to be one of the few groups of people who can actually fulfill the childhood fantasy of being fulfilled by work. Lifestyle, prestige, location, money. Pick two as an attending neurosurgeon.
 
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Drp695

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Do you like spine surgery? If so do neurosurgery. We are blessed in medicine to be one of the few groups of people who can actually fulfill the childhood fantasy of being fulfilled by work. Lifestyle, prestige, location, money. Pick two as an attending neurosurgeon.
Yes. I know i would love neurosurgery and it all it encompasses. When you say "pick two", what does that really mean? A great location and good pay are kind of subjective. Can you give me a real workable example? I dont need to make a million each year. I know neurosurgery is a highly compensated field. Is it possible to make about 300K, have a good lifestyle, and live somewhere like new england or the PNW?
 

mmmcdowe

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Yes. I know i would love neurosurgery and it all it encompasses. When you say "pick two", what does that really mean? A great location and good pay are kind of subjective. Can you give me a real workable example? I dont need to make a million each year. I know neurosurgery is a highly compensated field. Is it possible to make about 300K, have a good lifestyle, and live somewhere like new england or the PNW?
yes
 

Carticle

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So what kind of job includes lifestyle and prestige? Let's say I want to do higher end cases and teach residents. Is it possible to do that with a relatively decent lifestyle?
 

mmmcdowe

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So what kind of job includes lifestyle and prestige? Let's say I want to do higher end cases and teach residents. Is it possible to do that with a relatively decent lifestyle?
Yes but not super likely as a junior attending. You have to get those cases first and develop a practice first.
 

Zack4186

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As an M3, I'm in the same position as you (perhaps a bit more urgent). Everyone I've talked to has dissuaded me from pursuing neurosurgery because of the lifestyle and long residency. My questions are:

1) Is it possible to find positions with lower hours as an attending as long as I take a reasonable pay cut? I do plan on having a family and it's important that I do see them once in a while. Money is less important for me because I've been lucky enough to have no debt and my partner is soon to be in a high-paying specialty after her residency.

2) Are duty hours strictly enforced in neurosurgical residency? 80 hour weeks are reasonable for residency, but I would hopefully be able to cut down after I have children.

I've always been interested in neurosurgery...one of the reasons why I majored in neurobiology in undergrad and spent 4 years in a neuroradiology lab. I'm really hoping that all the negative things I've heard during medical school are exaggerations...

I've been hesitant to ask the neurosurgical residents/attendings about lifestyle because I don't want it to come off the wrong way.
 

mmmcdowe

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1. Yes. 2. Programs strive to document overall compliance and will rapidly respond to reports of noncompliance but if working more than 80 hours is going to be a major issue this is definitely not the field to pursue.
 

Shufflin

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All the negative things you may have read or heard are most probably true about neurosurgery, and you have to be willing to handle them well.
 

mmmcdowe

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drdoctor

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Neurosurgery has a lot of emergencies and involves a lot of inpatient work unless you focus on basic spine. Call will always be tough. Money will not be an issue. You can work part time in private practice to make 300k but call will be busy and there is no prestige except for being the community neurosurgeon.
Residency will be brutal but that’s how you Cecile good enough to become confident practicing on your own.
If you enter academics forget lifestyle.
 

mmmcdowe

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Neurosurgery is a lifestyle specialty. The lifestyle is neurosurgery.
This still makes me very happy Everytime I see it. Sigged