sandstone

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Nov 29, 2011
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I am second year ortho resident in my mid-30s. Someone PM'd me about another thread, and I realized my response be helpful or interesting to others, so I pasted it here with a few edits:

I was a physiology major and did decent on the MCAT, a 28, which I don't know how it correlates with the new scoring system.

I am married with two small kids. As I have mentioned in previous threads, if you go to a med school that does not require attendance at all lectures, lifestyle can be pretty decent in med school. It comes in waves though, and sometimes things are really stressful and hard, other times are pretty easy.

Residency is significantly harder than med school to find life balance. Some weeks can get sorta hard when I'm on call all weekend and then have a bunch of late nights in a row and I don't get to see the fam for days. It's been harder on my family, especially my wife than I anticipated. However, overall it's been okay, we're all doing well and adjusting. These rough weeks are offset by other weeks that aren't so bad. Also, some of the off- service months as an intern can be pretty damn chill depending on the rotation. Also, it's better as a second year when we take one in four weekends of call instead of every other weekend as an intern, and we're on backup. Now I just come in for the fun stuff: surgeries and teaching the intern how to do procedures in the ED. Being an intern was rough because we were on primary call, which requires a much bigger time commitment to deal with everything in the ED and on the floor and then document all that stuff. On top of the rough lifestyle, it is a very high stress job and you realize quickly how easily you can really hurt or even kill someone with any mistakes or misses. You have a lot of responsibility and people have very high expectations of you. Also, the nature of graduate medical education lends itself to being criticized and having your weaknesses exposed in front of your peers, so you have to have some thick skin.

I get enough time with family for the most part, but don't get a lot of time to partake in my personal hobbies. It's okay though because I know as time goes by I'll get more time for that stuff again. The lifestyle gets better each year in residency, and attending life is awesome.

A typical month on ortho: on call one or two weekends per month, which sometimes is chill where I get to be home in the afternoon after rounds and cases. Most of the time it's brutal and I'm pretty much at the hospital all weekend. A typical weekday: 5 am - 6 pm average. Rarely will be done by 3 or 4. Not uncommon to be done at 7-9 pm. On weeknight call 1-2 nights/week. Again, variable, some nights no calls and get to sleep, others you're up all night. You're also expected to read a lot and be prepared for cases, so you have to find time for that too.

Ortho residency is extremely difficult and can be super stressful at times, much harder than anything I experienced in med school or in life prior to med school. It's actually the hardest thing I've ever had to do. It's very physically, intellectually, and emotionally demanding. It would really suck if it weren't so fun! It's cool because we do some amazing things on a daily basis and really get to help people in meaningful ways. At my program we get a lot of hands on experience starting day one, and it feels amazing to actually be doing entire surgeries as an intern and second year. Bedside procedures in the ER are cool too, fracture reductions, extensor tendon repairs,etc. It's all super gratifying and fun.

While I have moments where I wonder why I've chosen such a difficult path, I'm happy I chose this path and would do it again if I had the option. I'm very satisfied with my specialty choice and love orthopedics, it's by far the best specialty. Many good outcomes, many patients are happy with their treatment, it's fun, it's physical, it's interesting, you have minimal documentation and overall bull**** to deal with compared to other specialties, and it pays really well. I am very happy I chose medical school and even if I got into any number of other specialties, I still would prefer that over other careers. Now I work with a lot of PTs, RNs, and PAs in the hospital and it makes me realize even more how happy I am that I chose medicine over these careers.

As for general advice for succeeding in getting into med school and then residency, aside from the standard advice (grades, MCAT, board scores, research, volunteering, etc) just work hard, study a lot, be down to earth, make connections with people who can help you by writing letters or whatever, try not to stress out too much, find time for family and fun, be nice to people, ask for help when you need it, and hope for good luck.

If anyone wants to see my thoughts on med school with kids, you can look at some of my past posts where I talk quite a bit about it.

I'm happy to answer more questions, however sometimes I'm short on time so it may take awhile to reply. Good luck!
 
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austintr

5000 candles in the wind
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May 21, 2014
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Thanks for posting this. I'm starting OMS-I tomorrow and it's great to see someone significantly further down the road but with a similar family putting this info out there. I'll be mid-30's starting residency as well and have a feeling I'll need a little perspective when things are tougher and I'm already 5-6 years into the process. It's also great to see someone that seems to have a very similar personality to mine doing well in ortho. I'm pretty laid back and mildly interested in ortho, (not top choice at the moment, but we'll see what happens). So it's nice to see someone that's not the typical ortho bro doing well. Good luck with the rest of residency!
 

holdthemayo

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May 13, 2014
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I'm a fellow non-trad dad getting ready to start next week. It helps to read from someone who has done both and doing well in a tough residency. Thanks for being so willing to share over the years.

*Edit: This post was also helpful premed father of 3
 
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sandstone

sandstone

7+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2011
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I'm glad you guys got something out of my post! You're at the start of a long and epic journey. It's hard but pretty damn cool too.

Holdthemayo, I'm glad you posted a link to my other post, I forgot I did that. That's a pretty good compilation of my thoughts and advice for med school with kids, and anyone who's interested should check it out. I'm super busy, that's why I copy and paste my posts and messages instead of retyping.

One thing I mentioned in one of those posts is still very true in residency: you have to accept that you're not going to be the best dad or resident. I do pretty good at both, but to not totally fail at one, I have to be okay with not being the best at either. It sometimes is hard to remember that, but important to accept in order to preserve happiness.
 
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sandstone

sandstone

7+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2011
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I figure I'd give this thread a bump and update since I'm on vacay right now.

I am now in my third year and officially half way through residency.

Residency definitely gets cooler as there are more and more operations that I do skin-to-skin where the attending just sits there and lets me do everything. It feels really good to become more of a competent surgeon. It's also fun to be in more of a teaching role at this point, often times on some basic trauma cases like a troch nail, I'll walk the intern through the procedure and the attending doesn't even scrub.

Lifestyle is still intense, but not terrible. I'm on call about one weekend a month and 1-2 weeknights per week, backup call so just coming in to teach procedures to intern of help with surgeries. Daily schedule depends on rotation. Recon was a busy few months given that every day was a huge and exhausting day of total joints that went til after five. Spine was more chill with more down time throughout the week and some earlier days. It's still a challenge to try to balance family time, work time, case preparation time, OITE study time, and research time, also while trying to throw in exercise and personal down-time.

The rough part now as far as family goes is managing away rotations. I am at a community ortho program so our peds ortho and ortho onc is out of town, which is kinda hard on the family. Thankfully it's within a few hours driving distance so I still could come home on weekends and even a few weeknights. It got hard at times, and I was definitely feeling for the first time in my medical training that I was actually missing out on significant portions of my kids' lives. It was easy to keep perspective though given that every day I would be interacting with parents living out my worst nightmares as a parent (peds tumors, life-changing injuries, severely disabled children, etc). The rotations were awesome though, seeing a lot of unique stuff that you only see at tertiary centers and getting a lot of good experience. I definitely feel comfortably now about peds fracture reductions in ED and pinning elbows and stuff, which I did not feel comfortable with before.

At this point, there's some stress in terms of beginning to prepare to apply to fellowship next summer and trying to get some research done. It's exciting though to be looking at the next step and seriously considering fellowships and jobs. With that said, it's easy to get overly focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and wish time to go faster. I have to remind myself to be present and enjoy where I'm at right now, residency is an overall good experience. I'm still happy I chose this path and my family and I have all adjusted reasonably well to the lifestyle.
 
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