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Please help me.. need advice on the medical career (and the sacrifices you make)

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by betadiene, May 11, 2008.

  1. betadiene


    May 11, 2008
    Ive been really thinking the last few weeks about whether or not I want to continue medicine. I really want to be a doctor but I dont know if it is worth it anymore. I am almost finished 1st term, my grades are fine (mostly As) and I really enjoy the courses (minus the studying).

    Im 23 right now, and when I look ahead to the additional 1.5 more years of schooling, 2 years of clinicals and (the minumum) 3 years of residency - that would mean that I will be 30 when I finish and get my proverbial plaque. Thats considering that everything runs on schedule - but I know it wont, especially cause im in the January group and a Canadian (visa problems await me).. I will probably be around 32 when Im finished.

    I dont know how to cope with the fact that I have to sacrifice my youth and a gargantuan amount of time to do this career. I dont have a spouse or anything and it scares me that medicine could mean that when I am done all I will have is the ability to prescribe people antibiotics, while sacrificing all of lifes little pleasures along the way. I dont think it is really possible to have 'a life' when youre in med school, and that could hurt me especially in the long run when I find myself in a strange American city, old and probably with few friends or loved ones around me.

    I think what really shook me up was when watching an episode of Nip/tuck during a break from studying.
    "Fathers day comes around and Christmas and Thanksgiving, and you sit alone with your.. diplomas.. and the thoughts of all these people whose lives youve saved - except your own.."

    So please, Im sure some of you guys have gone through what I am going through.. can you offer me any advice on what I should do? Its not that I need medicine to pay bills or anything, I quit my other job before starting school (the pay was about equivalent to a physician's). I love medicine I really do and I think its a damn shame that the schooling is the way it is. I could have started right after high school (like in the UK) and be finished by 25. Can I take a break off school after I finish the basic sciences or clinicals for a (long) while or something maybe? Are there any other paths or branchpoints I can take along the way that would be medically oriented, but without the workload (read: time investment)?
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  3. BlackSails

    BlackSails 2+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2007
    We cant tell you what you want to do. You have to decide that.
  4. betadiene


    May 11, 2008
    The problem is I dont really know what lies ahead.. my options or anything ..
  5. 194342

    194342 Physician 7+ Year Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    Wanted to be a doctor since I was about 9.. Sorry.
  6. shmrshines

    shmrshines nerd in hot girl clothing 2+ Year Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    I think if it's what you really want to do you'll find a way. I am 28 now and I remember when I was 23 and felt like everything had to be done in such a hurry. Now with more wisdom under my belt I realize that in 10 years either I could look back and have my medical degree or not, and I'd rather have it than not. I think that trying to find a balance is the key when at all possible. I know that medicine is sometimes unbalanced, but not so much all the time. Learning time management skills definitely helps with keeping a balance. No one can tell you what your motives are in becoming a doctor and if they are worth the sacrifice of a lifetime of study. That is something that you have to look within for.
  7. mdgator

    mdgator 2+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    I think we all have to deal with the fact that we'll be making a lot of sacrifices to pursue this career. You just have to decide if your love for medicine makes the sacrifice worth it. Unfortunately, no one can answer that for you. If you decide to continue on, I would encourage you to not completely put your life on hold for medicine. Find time to do things you enjoy and make friends. Personally, going to church is helpful for me. It gives me an hour or two a week to meet new people who have the same values as myself, get my head out of the books, and there are always social activities planned...I can't always make it to them, but when it fits my schedule, I try to. Church works for me...something else may work for you...but find something other than books to occupy your time, even if just for an hour or two per week.

    Others are probably much more knowledgeable than myself regarding what alternative paths there are. I wish you the best of luck.
  8. xanthomondo

    xanthomondo nom nom nom Banned Physician 10+ Year Member

    It's easy to look at the time investment and say "It'l be so long before I get to 32" and quit...but the next thing you know you'll be 32 and be like "crap, I coulda been a doctor by now"

    What was your previous job that paid so well but left life so unfufilling?
  9. betadiene


    May 11, 2008
    I was a programmer making $300,000 a year (self employed, working whenever/wherever I wanted and however much I wanted)

    But Ive always wanted to be a doctor, I cant imagine programming forever.. its boring, you dont really make a difference in the world and you come in contact with few people.
  10. jult24er

    jult24er 2+ Year Member

    Jul 25, 2007
    I've heard you can have a life in med school.Is that not true? Are you trying to get into a super competitive residency? Maybe trade a few A's for some more free time?
  11. scattun

    scattun 7+ Year Member

    Sep 22, 2007
    Maybe, PA would be a good alternative? You are still in the field of medicine but there are only 2 post undergraduate years, and you are done. The downside is always you won't being the one making the big decisions, have dr. in front of your name (if that's important to you), and the pay isn't that great for the work you put in.
    Or you could just try to get through it, while making an effort to be a bit more social. There is a doc in my dad's group who was a pa for a number of years, but he ultimately decided to go to medical school because he was doing the same amount of work for half the pay. He was 46 when he finished all his training. Granted he was already married with a kid, but he said it was definitely worth it.
  12. xanthomondo

    xanthomondo nom nom nom Banned Physician 10+ Year Member

    That's not true. I would say that Bill Gates/Microsoft or the Google guys have had a bigger impact on the world than any one physician.

    It's a different difference, but every career has the potential to make one.
  13. fireflygirl

    fireflygirl The Ultimate Blindian 7+ Year Member

    Jul 17, 2007
    I think this some good advice. I am going to be nearly 28 when I start medical school and in my mid-late 30s by the time I finish just my residency. I have panicked over the same things that you have and I can't offer you great advice since I feel the same way you do. What I can say, like others have said, is that you have to really want to do it. You have to know what you are getting into is truly worth it and that doesn't meant that you won't ever question it again, but it means that when you do question it, you'll find your answer in some aspect of medicine that you do or have experienced that makes it all worth it. It really helped me to pick up some new hobbies and find little things I did for myself everyday. And while I'm not in medical school, I juggled a full time job with two classes for the last few semesters which was plenty of work in itself. Maybe if you set a rhythm for yourself where you balance your classes with your work, or if you start to get yourself involved in small form of an EC or something on the side that is more patient oriented or aligned with your medical interests, you might be reminded about why you got yourself involved in the field in the first place.

    I hope that helps! :D Best wishes!!!
  14. nontrdgsbuiucmd

    nontrdgsbuiucmd 2+ Year Member

    Mar 28, 2008
    my own little world
    I can offer a few thoughts.. finished college at age 20 and was raring to get into the world! I'd briefly considered medicine, but have a sibling who went that route.. seemed like forever to finish "training" at age 30+, given I was earning a comfortable income in my early 20s, far more than a resident's salary.

    And now, being 30+, 10 years does not seem so long. The reason that I'm pursuing medicine is that I find it more impactful and fulfilling to help people who are sick, or injured, or dying (this is a reference to a family member w/terminal illness) than what I did in my corporate jobs over the past 10+ years. But I'm willing to put in the time now that I was not willing to do 10 years ago.

    The physicians that I know often discuss being underpaid, given the training/years spent learning the trade. I look at it differently; as a corporate person, I would get very bored after a year or so doing similar work, and often would change companies; as a physician I don't anticipate this given the rate of change of medicine, and additional training opportunities mid-career.

    guess it depends what you want, for me it took maturing a bit before I am willing to commit to this!
  15. Luxian

    Luxian 5+ Year Member

    Dec 13, 2006
    So sorry you're going through a hard time right now, but there ARE several branching points you should consider.

    I've thought through these because I'm 32 and I'm just starting med school this summer! I definitely wish I'd come to this decision about five years ago, but I'm not growing any younger and I'd rather be 40 and an MD than just 40!

    But back to the options:
    Year 2: You can definitely take a break. Many schools allow you to take a year off between 2nd and 3rd year. This shouldn't cost you any money, but you will have to work it out with the financial aid folks. A friend of mine swears this year off saved her marriage. Take it if you need it!

    Year 4: Once you have an MD, you are an MD!! You can't actually practice, but you gain all the salary benefits of having gone to med school. That means you can work in public health/government policy, you can work in biotech, you can work in research, basically any medical field that does not involve direct patient contact.

    Year 5: You can do one year of residency and become a primary care doctor. Don't knock it! It ain't so bad!

    Year 7: This is the typical end point (depending on specialty). If you can make it this long, you are done!

    Just a few more words on the relationship front. A lot of people are marrying later these days. Just because you are not married by the end of residency, doesn't mean you would be married if you hadn't gone down that route. Your life does not end at 30! But do make sure that you take time for yourself while you're in med school. If you don't find some relief and some comfort and some fun in the next several years, it's going to be a very long slog indeed. Make sure you do what you need to do, but give yourself a break sometimes too. It's good for your mental health.

    Speaking of, most med schools have counsellors available for just this sort of thing. Don't hesitate to use them!

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