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Second-Guessing a Career in Medicine

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by bigneonglitter, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. bigneonglitter

    bigneonglitter Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2005
    I'm currently in my third year and this honestly has been the most miserable year of my life- even worse than second year (which I actually did not mind). Most days I don't even feel like coming in to the hospital. I am really starting loathe the medical profession. My attendings have all been really wonderful and I don't have any horror stories (at least not yet). I'm really just beginnig to think that medicine is just not in the cards for me. I feel completely uninspired and I can't imagine what residency will be like if I am this miserable this early on. Any suggestions from anyone? How about job opportunities for MD's without residency training? I've thought about going back to grad or business school or law school or something once I finish, but I really don't know... Does anyone have any advice?
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  3. theraball

    theraball Panned 10+ Year Member

    Nov 22, 2005
    Glendale, AZ
    Stick it out, get your M.D., then go do something else if you still feel that way. You've come this far.

    Short term--get some counseling; no shame in that, and it may help you to clarify what you want to do.
  4. babyruth

    babyruth Babyruth 5+ Year Member

    Try to define what it is you don't like about it. Make a list of pros and cons. Try to reason out why you went to med school to begin with. Was it the science, potential money, family pressure, helping people, prestige, etc? What made you get this far before deciding that you feel this way? If you don't like the patient contact thing, what about fields like radiology, anesthesia, or pathology, etc.? Would those be of interest to you? I know docs that went back for MBA, JD, and/or just doing holistic type medicine only. You might consider these things too.
  5. colbgw02

    colbgw02 Delightfully Tacky 10+ Year Member

    Everyone has these days; just remember that better days are ahead. I like to think about having a normal job, where I actually have weekends, get to sleep in my own bed every night, and get to see my wife regularly. Then I think about how I'd probably end up like Michael from Office Space if I were doing that.

    Medicine training is all about (very) delayed gratification until you're doing the type of medicine you want, where you want, and on your terms. In the meantime, learn to leave your body and put your mind on cruise control.
  6. YouDontKnowJack

    YouDontKnowJack I no something you don't 5+ Year Member

    Apr 21, 2005
    you can always fall back on family medicine.

    if you stop thinking about acing your rotations, that reduces lots of stress.
    Just go about and see where the wind blows.
  7. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon 7+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    Third year is rough...

    While I agree that it is probably a good idea to at least grind out the MD degree, there is no shame in quitting medicine.

    I am personally of the opinion that far to FEW people drop out of medical school. Does anyone seriously believe that the application process is set up to correctly select people that will be happy and flourish in the role of the physician? I mean people are admitted to med school based on a few numbers, 30 hours of shadowing, a semester of research, and a couple of volunteer projects. Are we to believe that 98% of those people are really cut out for a life in medicine?

    There is, as I see it, a big difference between having a sucky time on rotations and disliking medicine. M3 is a huge drag, but the light at the end of the tunnel is still attractive to me...
  8. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    If you have borrowed to pay for your medical degree and are going to have to borrow again for a JD (a 3 year degree), not to mention if you still owe anything from college, you are going to put yourself very deep into a hole in terms of debt -- you will severely impact your future earnings and lifestyle for the next several decades or more. Most people who do these multiple degrees either do them combined (and shave off a year or more of debt), or work for a bit in between to pay down the first school's debt. I don't think it's financially realistic to finish up 4th year and launch into a 3 year law program. Additionally, while lawyers at big firms in big cities do very nicely the lower end jobs in the profession may not be able to service the debt-load you will likely have. So you are committing yourself to doing very well at a well regarded school, and then landing a very coveted position, with no wiggle room.
  9. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon 7+ Year Member

    May 1, 2006
    Agreed, the average salary for an attorney is like 45k. That is what a resident makes.

    Attorneys get wealthy by either a) kicking arse at a top law school or b) doing personal injury/med mal.
  10. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    The average is kind of misleading, and representative of the sheer volume more than what lawyers can make (i.e. there are as many lawyers making six digits as doctors, but there are many times more lawyers total). But I would also note that the lowest lawyer salary I have seen was $20k (for a legal aid job in the SW), so the range is huge, and you can be a very poor professional in law if you aren't tops, even without med school loans on top of it.

    Actually while some PI/medmal lawyers do well, the percentage of lawyers who do well in PI is pretty low, far worse than in other legal specialties -- there are simply too many of them. That's why you see so many ads on TV -- there are more of those kinds of lawyers than good cases. And why you'll never see TV ads for more transactional specialties.
  11. nutcancer

    nutcancer 2+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2006
    one thing is for sure..ride it out for the degree..that thing will take you any place you want afterwards
  12. Hard24Get

    Hard24Get The black sleepymed 7+ Year Member

    3rd year can be pretty disheartening - I think it would help people to advise you if you explained what aspects of clinics you don't like. Also, are you looking at what your residents and attendings are doing and not liking that either?

    Do you like science/research? You might want to take a year off for a research project you're interested in - this weill give you a leg up if you decide to go into pharma or something afterwards. Schools don't usually charge for this year and you can even make money. Similar clinical programs are available, such as in pathology. A year off would also give you time to think.

    I also echo the sentiment that you should take advantage of the (usually free) counseling services on campus, or even your dean of student affairs or ombudsman, just to help you think through things. This step should certainly be taken before trying to drop out - you are almost done!
  13. Hoo\/er

    Hoo\/er if($profit){replicate();} 10+ Year Member

    Feb 10, 2002
  14. LittleLeota


    Feb 28, 2007
    Wow, you experience sounds similiar to my third year experience, I hated going into the hospital however because I felt that I was constantly being harassed on most of my rotations by some attendings, residents and fellow students, most of the days, . . . I loved taking care of patients and talking with responsive attendings about medical advances etc. . . however, if you are too smart or too interested in clinical medicine it will be held against you as many residents and attendings may feel threatened by you, believe it or not, and enjoy spending more time talking about their hobbies etc . . . the negative atmosphere at many institutions is very hard for alot of students to function in.

    The top three things that make third year good or bad are in no particular order: location, location and location. Having done clinical work elsewhere, I have loved the interaction between residents, attendings and students at more collegial sites. There is a HUGE difference on your mental health where you do your rotations, so just remember when you do a residency do it somewhere else . . . I have had the BEST time of my life doing a medicine rotation at a hospital different from where I had my worst expriences. The attitude of some northeast medical schools is one that attendings and residents enjoy psychologically tormenting you. . . I had not realized that attendings and residents would do such a thing, and was ready to scream each day after some maltreatment on the rotation, but looking back realized that they attendings and residents were relieving their stress and attacking medical students who knew more than them. Most attendings and residents have zero desire to teach, and are forced into it, they do enjoy flexing their power, which means harassing students.

    bottom line: It is not patients, It is not paperwork that makes medicine hard, it is the abuse that one must suffer from colleagues, and superiors that make medicine a pain. Believe me, you will be surprised, I would suggest doing rotations at another site, because in the end taking care of sick people is very important and alot of fun when you get to help people, and I believe it is inconceivable that a bright person as yourself would not enjoy it, unless you dislike interaction with people.
  15. Tired Pigeon

    Tired Pigeon 7+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    Have you considered that you might be experiencing depression? It seems like the greatly increased stress and hours of 3rd year vs. the preclinical years pushes a lot of people in this direction. Definitely look into the counseling option before you do anything else -- this is a big decision, and you want to make it with a completely clear head. Good luck to you.:luck:

    P.S. I do know some people with M.D.'s that work for venture capitalists (they scout out and evaluate medical-related start-ups and try to assess market potential, etc.). I wouldn't imagine you'd need a residency for this type of job, but I also wouldn't imagine there are that many positions of this type to be had.
  16. MystA RavE

    MystA RavE 7+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2007
    Brooklyn, NY
    Wow this thread has opened up my eyes a little bit. I'm applying this year... :scared:

    Hoover, thanks for posting that site its quite interesting
  17. babyruth

    babyruth Babyruth 5+ Year Member

    Concede the point, but there are other things you can do as well. You just need to explore your options. As said above, not everyone should stick it out and if you are really that unhappy, look into other options.
  18. barasch

    barasch Member 7+ Year Member

    May 3, 2005
    tough it out this year - but do seek professional advice on potential depression ( a dangerous psychological illness)

    if you liked first and second years (and wouldn't mind moving to the D.C. Bethesda, MD area), there are some loan repayment jobs in research at NIH that would be a financially sound alternative to a residency.

    You'd earn a little money and get a good loan payment. I think you can get one or two year positions.

    Good luck - take care of yourself.
  19. loveumms

    loveumms Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 8, 2005
    I always wonder how many medical students would be sticking it out the whole four years if the debt wasn't so HUGE. I honestly don't know if I would. There is so much BS to go through during med school that I thought about quiting many times ... the big debt combined with not knowing what else I would do kept me here. Of course I'm glad I stuck it out b/c I am finally getting close to happiness (fourth year is one long vacation).

    My advice would be to talk to as many people as you can. If you want to get your JD then find someone who has done that and ask them how they did it and for what reasons. You can definitely make good money with a combined degree b/c you are more marketable however, those jobs may be scarse.

    Best of luck - and try and reason out the positives ... you have gotten this far ;)
  20. cremaster2007

    cremaster2007 Birthday cake remix 7+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Glen Cove, NY
    a wise movie once quoted:

    "What would you do with a million dollars? Besides two chicks at the same time? Of course.......besides two chicks at the same time" "I'd do absolutely nothing"

    Office Space.......fantastic movie.

    I think everyone in medicine thinks about quitting at some point. You are on an island where you are expected to always care about someone else over how you feel. It does get better as you go on, but you are always going to have to deal with call and giving up free time you don't want too......unless you go into ER:) Just really think about it. There were many times along the way I wondered what the hell I was doing to myself, and especially during the 4th year interviewing process which was awful.......but then I realized there is nothing else I would, even if I won the lottery. Remember you can always do a residency and go almost strictly into research. Just make sure you do what's best for you! Good luck.
  21. toogood1

    toogood1 Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 11, 2002
    A good friend of mine once told me that if you have never thought about giving up or quitting medicine, then you are probably not normal. Hope things get better for you!
  22. DrJ105

    DrJ105 Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    Jun 26, 2006
    Greenville, SC
    Remember that medical school (and probably residency as well) is mostly about shoveling a large pile of manure. When the pile is large enough you can stand upon it and be an attending/real doctor. The years of shoveling aren't always enjoyable, but the end product is worth fighting for.
  23. RockShox

    RockShox 2+ Year Member

    Nov 30, 2006
    I think that it speaks volumes to your maturity that you are doing so much self reflection. I think before you consider stopping or even pushing on miserably I would consider taking a year off. Do something else and just chill. Get some counseling or a way to get some insight and either recommit or commit to something else. It is not a problem to do this many, many students before u have.

    Also, it is possible that you just have not yet been exposed to the specialty that speaks to you. Though that is not necessary...

    Many people erroneously believe that we need to find the career that speaks to us. When in reality a vast majority of people simply work to finance other parts in their life that they love. If this is might consider something like radiology that can give you the freedom of pursuing outside interests. It is ok to be a doctor on the side who is and artist or even a restaurant owner.

    Good luck

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