TripleDegree

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Has anyone on this forum ruled out the longer residencies like cardiology, neurosurgery, plastics, cardiothoracic surgery etc because of your age factor?

here's my deal, i'll be 42 when i finish up med school - and I don't want to be hitting 50 when I'm ready to practice. Hence I am considering either EM or Anesthesia. Not that these are bad specialities at all.

Anyhow, my question's is EM a good specialty for the non-trad? Does it burn you out quicker? Considering I need to practice until I'm 65 to make this whole thing worthwhile, is EM a feasible way to go?

Feedback would be appreciated. will cross post this on the EM forum also.
 

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TripleDegree said:
Has anyone on this forum ruled out the longer residencies like cardiology, neurosurgery, plastics, cardiothoracic surgery etc because of your age factor?

here's my deal, i'll be 42 when i finish up med school - and I don't want to be hitting 50 when I'm ready to practice. Hence I am considering either EM or Anesthesia. Not that these are bad specialities at all.

Anyhow, my question's is EM a good specialty for the non-trad? Does it burn you out quicker? Considering I need to practice until I'm 65 to make this whole thing worthwhile, is EM a feasible way to go?

Feedback would be appreciated. will cross post this on the EM forum also.
Hi there,
I am doing a General Surgery Residency to be followed by two years of Vascular Surgery fellowship. (Same length of training as CT Surgery) I can't say that I ruled out anything because of my age and I finished medical school older than 42.
njbmd :cool:
 
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TripleDegree

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njbmd said:
Hi there,
I am doing a General Surgery Residency to be followed by two years of Vascular Surgery fellowship. (Same length of training as CT Surgery) I can't say that I ruled out anything because of my age and I finished medical school older than 42.
njbmd :cool:
MORE POWER TO YOU!!!!

Aren't you also considering a JD?
 

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I don't know what specialty I'm going to want to go into yet -- I'm told most people change their mind at least once along the way. But frankly, after a postbacc, glide year, 4 years of med school and probably another 4 years of residency minimum, I'm not sure how much difference another couple of years is going to make. Going for the shortest residency specialty regardless of its appeal seems like driving down the football field to the ten yard line and settling for a field goal... If it's something that you are interested in and will make you happy, why not go for it? Where else do you have to be? :rolleyes:
 
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TripleDegree

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Law2Doc said:
I don't know what specialty I'm going to want to go into yet -- I'm told most people change their mind at least once along the way. But frankly, after a postbacc, glide year, 4 years of med school and probably another 4 years of residency minimum, I'm not sure how much difference another couple of years is going to make. Going for the shortest residency specialty regardless of its appeal seems like driving down the football field to the ten yard line and settling for a field goal... If it's something that you are interested in and will make you happy, why not go for it? Where else do you have to be? :rolleyes:
That was one heck of an analogy Lawdoc - and put everything immediatley in perspective for me.

So are you a JD-->MD??
 

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TripleDegree said:
That was one heck of an analogy Lawdoc - and put everything immediatley in perspective for me.

So are you a JD-->MD??
Yes -- have worked as a lawyer for quite a while. Glad the sports analogy helped; for some reason they always do for me. :)
 

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Law2Doc said:
Going for the shortest residency specialty regardless of its appeal seems like driving down the football field to the ten yard line and settling for a field goal...
That is the most brilliant analogy I've heard in a verrrrry long time. You have completely changed my perspective on potential specialities. Thank you, Law2Doc!
 

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TripleDegree said:
Has anyone on this forum ruled out the longer residencies like cardiology, neurosurgery, plastics, cardiothoracic surgery etc because of your age factor?

here's my deal, i'll be 42 when i finish up med school - and I don't want to be hitting 50 when I'm ready to practice. Hence I am considering either EM or Anesthesia. Not that these are bad specialities at all.

Anyhow, my question's is EM a good specialty for the non-trad? Does it burn you out quicker? Considering I need to practice until I'm 65 to make this whole thing worthwhile, is EM a feasible way to go?

Feedback would be appreciated. will cross post this on the EM forum also.
I think there are many variables that one must consider when researching your choice in a specialty, and certainly age is a factor. When you are older, I am also, you have responsibilities that someone younger who is right out of undergrad probably won't have.

For me, I must consider my family. Who knows what lies in wait at the end of these next four years for us. I know how far I can be pushed, and I don't think a longer residency will be all that bad. I am sure that I can handle whatever is thrown my way. What I don't know is, how far can my wife and children be pushed? How long can I make them wait for me? Since they are my number one priority, I will have to evaluate their willingness for a longer residency towards the end of med school.

Initially, my wife did not want to commit to med school because of its requirements on the whole family. When she decided to give me her unending support through undergrad, I was already 29. I decided then that if I need to settle for something less than what I want to do, for their sake, I will do so. The time for me to do what I want to do is long gone since I started a family. If my family has a hard time through med school, then I wouldn't even consider a longer residency, and fellowship training which will take me 6 years to complete. If they can handle it, so be it, we'll truck on.

Everybody has a number one priority. That is something they are not willing to give up. Only you know what your priorities are. You will have to make your decision according to which priorities you are willing to sacrifice.
 

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I had a similar discussion with a college the other day. I have been a practicing ER PA for many years running a rural ER alone with MD back up by phone only. I am now starting med school---I know it is a fantasy and long shot---but it would be great if my ER residency could be cut by a few months in light of my experience. I know there is no way.

I too will be around 42 when I finish school.
 

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TripleDegree said:
Anyhow, my question's is EM a good specialty for the non-trad? Does it burn you out quicker? Considering I need to practice until I'm 65 to make this whole thing worthwhile, is EM a feasible way to go?
This is one of those questions that in order to get an answer to, you have to ask yourself about your own work ethic. I am a paramedic 10 years now. EM can be a hard lifestyle for many. I know docs who have become real jaded with people after 5 years in EM, and they can't stand it any longer. I know other docs who still love it after 25 years. This isn't a very clear answer, but there are some aptitude tests that will help you discover how you prioritize important issues in your life, and how you choose a specialty. The one I know of is from the UVA med school web site. Me personally, I've worked enough graveyard shifts on a Saturday nights, and have enough missed holidays to realize EM is not even a consideration for me anymore. If it fits you you can do it when you are 75 y/o if you're healthy enough.
 

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Law2Doc said:
I don't know what specialty I'm going to want to go into yet -- I'm told most people change their mind at least once along the way. But frankly, after a postbacc, glide year, 4 years of med school and probably another 4 years of residency minimum, I'm not sure how much difference another couple of years is going to make. Going for the shortest residency specialty regardless of its appeal seems like driving down the football field to the ten yard line and settling for a field goal... If it's something that you are interested in and will make you happy, why not go for it? Where else do you have to be? :rolleyes:
Fantastic analogy!! I have been debating the shorter residencies due to age. My family will play a part in it, but if they are willing I will probably go with my heart.
 

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I remember a discussion I had with my stepmom once. We were talking about the possibility of me doing an MD/PhD, and I said one reason I didn't want to do it is that I didn't want to be 30 when I finished school (This is when I was 20 and 30 seemed OLD to me back then(!) and I felt I didn't still want to be doing school when I was 30). Her response: You're going to get to be 30 one day anyways, so you might as well be 30 and doing something you like. I think this applies to choosing residencies as well. We're all going to get older anyway...it's not about how old we'll be when we get where we're going, but whether we enjoy the process of getting there and like where we end up.

Of course, for people with families involved that's another story, and there are different considerations involved.
 

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Hi there,
There seems to be plenty of talk about being a certain numerical age and the practice of medicine. I can tell you from experience that as a PGY-3 general surgery resident, I am no more tired that my younger colleages (who are half my age). I do the same 30-hour marathon trauma shifts that they do. Yesterday, after 24-hours of heavy trauma call, when my 25-year-old intern was home sleeping, I was busy excising burns and pretty ticked, that I had to scrub out of a case that I have invested so much into. This patient has been critically ill and I have spent a weeking getting her/him ready for grafting. (I scrubbed out because RRC regulations only permit me to work no more than 30 hours straight and we do not violate these regs for any reason.)

The bottom line, if you have a pre-conceived notion of how life is "going to be" at a certain age, you might be placing limits of what you can accomplish at any age. I am fortunate to have one of the most interesting jobs in the world. It has never been a question of not being physically able to do this job but having the mental toughness to do this job. I am not sure that being younger is an asset here.

As you go through medical school, you will find out that medicine is pretty ageless. If you rule out anything because you think that you are too old than you have set limits that may hamper your future practice. The shortest residency/specialty that you hate, is far worse than then the longest residency/specialty that you love. In the end, you are going to be the person who gets up every morning and goes to work. Don't limit yourself because of age or anything else.

For most non-traditional medical students, we left excellent careers with significant seniority. If I wanted a safety net, I would have stayed where I was and contemplated retirement with a very fat pension. Insead, I chose one of the most demanding careers that anyone can have and I am doing well. My other key is that I just don't define my life by the expectations of other people.

njbmd :)
 
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TripleDegree

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njbmd said:
Hi there,
There seems to be plenty of talk about being a certain numerical age and the practice of medicine. I can tell you from experience that as a PGY-3 general surgery resident, I am no more tired that my younger colleages (who are half my age). I do the same 30-hour marathon trauma shifts that they do. Yesterday, after 24-hours of heavy trauma call, when my 25-year-old intern was home sleeping, I was busy excising burns and pretty ticked, that I had to scrub out of a case that I have invested so much into. This patient has been critically ill and I have spent a weeking getting her/him ready for grafting. (I scrubbed out because RRC regulations only permit me to work no more than 30 hours straight and we do not violate these regs for any reason.)

The bottom line, if you have a pre-conceived notion of how life is "going to be" at a certain age, you might be placing limits of what you can accomplish at any age. I am fortunate to have one of the most interesting jobs in the world. It has never been a question of not being physically able to do this job but having the mental toughness to do this job. I am not sure that being younger is an asset here.

As you go through medical school, you will find out that medicine is pretty ageless. If you rule out anything because you think that you are too old than you have set limits that may hamper your future practice. The shortest residency/specialty that you hate, is far worse than then the longest residency/specialty that you love. In the end, you are going to be the person who gets up every morning and goes to work. Don't limit yourself because of age or anything else.

For most non-traditional medical students, we left excellent careers with significant seniority. If I wanted a safety net, I would have stayed where I was and contemplated retirement with a very fat pension. Insead, I chose one of the most demanding careers that anyone can have and I am doing well. My other key is that I just don't define my life by the expectations of other people.

njbmd :)
This is one of the most encouraging posts that I have ever seen. Right now I am going through a bit of a crisis. My peers and colleagues are saying that I'm crazy to contemplate a career change at this late stage in life. Their logic is this - invest half the amount of time that you would invest in a career change, and you can make your current career shine. The other thing they keep hitting me with is - what if there's a health situation with you that occurs midway thru med school or residency? If you stay in your current job, at least you have sick leave, and there will be minimal disruption. However if this happens before exams or in the middle of an important rotation, it could jeopardize the whole career, or at least wipe a year out.

I'll get through the naysaying, but this is definitely a bit of a stressful time.
 

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TripleDegree said:
This is one of the most encouraging posts that I have ever seen. Right now I am going through a bit of a crisis. My peers and colleagues are saying that I'm crazy to contemplate a career change at this late stage in life. Their logic is this - invest half the amount of time that you would invest in a career change, and you can make your current career shine. The other thing they keep hitting me with is - what if there's a health situation with you that occurs midway thru med school or residency? If you stay in your current job, at least you have sick leave, and there will be minimal disruption. However if this happens before exams or in the middle of an important rotation, it could jeopardize the whole career, or at least wipe a year out.

I'll get through the naysaying, but this is definitely a bit of a stressful time.
A career change is always a gamble. Somewhat like stepping off of a cliff without knowing the depth of the fall. Most of us nontraditionals could have played it safe and stayed in a financially secure job. But you have to look inside yourself and see if your current job is something you would be happy doing for the next few decades until retirement. Do you jump out of bed on Mondays jazzed and ready to go, or spend the bulk of your week waiting for Friday afternoon to arrive? Will a new and more intellectually taxing career be more enjoyable? Have you put aside your dream career for enough time already? Would you regret not taking a shot at medicine a few years down the road? In the end it is a highly personal decision, but you shouldn't let fear of risk-taking force you to live a less satisfying life.
 

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njbmd said:
...I am no more tired that my younger colleages (who are half my age).
It has never been a question of not being physically able to do this job but having the mental toughness to do this job. I am not sure that being younger is an asset here.
As you go through medical school, you will find out that medicine is pretty ageless. If you rule out anything because you think that you are too old than you have set limits that may hamper your future practice.
...we left excellent careers with significant seniority. If I wanted a safety net, I would have stayed where I was and contemplated retirement with a very fat pension.
I just don't define my life by the expectations of other people.
I can't do justice to this excellent post with smilies, so I'll just say, ROCK ON with your bad self! A lot of what you said bears repeating -- and possibly posting on the wall where I'm studying. I put emphasis on what I think are some key parts.
 

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TripleDegree said:
Their logic is this - invest half the amount of time that you would invest in a career change, and you can make your current career shine.
Yes, but if you're investing MORE time into a career that no longer interests you, isn't it the equivalent of "good money after bad"? If you thought enough of your current career that you'd like to spend some time making it shine, maybe you wouldn't be considering a career change, eh?

The other thing they keep hitting me with is - what if there's a health situation with you that occurs midway thru med school or residency? If you stay in your current job, at least you have sick leave, and there will be minimal disruption. However if this happens before exams or in the middle of an important rotation, it could jeopardize the whole career, or at least wipe a year out.
Good Lord, what a depressing way to approach the rest of your life. Do your colleagues really know that many people in their 40s who are suffering significant life-altering health events? For that matter, I had traditional-aged classmates who encountered various health and family crises - us geezers actually don't have the patent on Stuff. Med schools have dealt with these issues before, and they work with people to try and keep them on track. Similarly, things come up in residency programs and they figure out ways to make it work. (when my mom died recently, my program arranged for a colleague to take my place on a rotation so that I didn't have to go straight from her funeral back to work)

My point is, short of a catastrophe that would "jeopardize your whole career" regardless of WHAT you were doing or whether you'd changed careers, this sort of talk is unrealistic and drastic. The folks running med schools and residencies are still just ordinary human beings who know that stuff happens and people need help. To choose to avoid medicine for such a lengthy chain of "what-if's" just seems silly to me.

And a personal note, in case you're thinking "That's easy for YOU to say" - I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 43, entered med school at age 44, and am "enjoying" life as an intern at age 49. I consider myself very fortunate to be fully functional, but if I had a health setback, I'd enlist all my resources to help me figure out a way to make it work.

On a lighter note, I did take care to find out that if you die, your student loans are forgiven. :laugh: I did want to make sure that my husband wouldn't have a $150K debt to remember me by, if I got hit by a truck.
 
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TripleDegree

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mamadoc said:
Yes, but if you're investing MORE time into a career that no longer interests you, isn't it the equivalent of "good money after bad"? If you thought enough of your current career that you'd like to spend some time making it shine, maybe you wouldn't be considering a career change, eh?



Good Lord, what a depressing way to approach the rest of your life. Do your colleagues really know that many people in their 40s who are suffering significant life-altering health events? For that matter, I had traditional-aged classmates who encountered various health and family crises - us geezers actually don't have the patent on Stuff. Med schools have dealt with these issues before, and they work with people to try and keep them on track. Similarly, things come up in residency programs and they figure out ways to make it work. (when my mom died recently, my program arranged for a colleague to take my place on a rotation so that I didn't have to go straight from her funeral back to work)

My point is, short of a catastrophe that would "jeopardize your whole career" regardless of WHAT you were doing or whether you'd changed careers, this sort of talk is unrealistic and drastic. The folks running med schools and residencies are still just ordinary human beings who know that stuff happens and people need help. To choose to avoid medicine for such a lengthy chain of "what-if's" just seems silly to me.

And a personal note, in case you're thinking "That's easy for YOU to say" - I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 43, entered med school at age 44, and am "enjoying" life as an intern at age 49. I consider myself very fortunate to be fully functional, but if I had a health setback, I'd enlist all my resources to help me figure out a way to make it work.

On a lighter note, I did take care to find out that if you die, your student loans are forgiven. :laugh: I did want to make sure that my husband wouldn't have a $150K debt to remember me by, if I got hit by a truck.

To put it simply, you rock.
 

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TripleDegree said:
Has anyone on this forum ruled out the longer residencies like cardiology, neurosurgery, plastics, cardiothoracic surgery etc because of your age factor?

here's my deal, i'll be 42 when i finish up med school - and I don't want to be hitting 50 when I'm ready to practice. Hence I am considering either EM or Anesthesia. Not that these are bad specialities at all.

Anyhow, my question's is EM a good specialty for the non-trad? Does it burn you out quicker? Considering I need to practice until I'm 65 to make this whole thing worthwhile, is EM a feasible way to go?

Feedback would be appreciated. will cross post this on the EM forum also.
Yes, I have considered a shorter residency too. I am also considering my age (40 after med school) and the huge amount of debt I will be drowning under. How will I pay back this debt and put back money for retirement.... :confused: Oh well, I having fun now!
 

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Tripledegree,
It's certainly wise to think thru all the issues before embarking on this path. It does take an extreme amount of committment and risk. I'll be 42 when I enter med school in the fall. I'm also a single mom of a 6 yr old. There is no denying it will be hard and a lot of bad things could happen. But no path is guaranteed.

As you can see from the all of our posts, (people who decide to go for it at our ages and give up the security of supposed sure things), we don't really care how others define us. When you are doing what you feel is so right for you, other peoples opinions aren't so important. You'll find a lot of variation in how people perceive your choices. Bottom line for me, I want to become a great doctor and I will do the best I can to make it happen. I'm currently thinking EM is my best fit. If it feels right to you, what other people say is not so important (with the exception of kids and significant others...). As you can see, its all been done before.

Good luck.
 
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TripleDegree

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Thanks for all the encouraging posts everyone!!

This is good stuff. Hopefully there is no age-discrimination when its time to go look for jobs as attendings, or at a practice. I wonder if they'll look kindly upon a 45 year old newly minted Emergency Physician!
 

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mamadoc said:
Yes, but if you're investing MORE time into a career that no longer interests you, isn't it the equivalent of "good money after bad"? If you thought enough of your current career that you'd like to spend some time making it shine, maybe you wouldn't be considering a career change, eh?



Good Lord, what a depressing way to approach the rest of your life. Do your colleagues really know that many people in their 40s who are suffering significant life-altering health events? For that matter, I had traditional-aged classmates who encountered various health and family crises - us geezers actually don't have the patent on Stuff. Med schools have dealt with these issues before, and they work with people to try and keep them on track. Similarly, things come up in residency programs and they figure out ways to make it work. (when my mom died recently, my program arranged for a colleague to take my place on a rotation so that I didn't have to go straight from her funeral back to work)

My point is, short of a catastrophe that would "jeopardize your whole career" regardless of WHAT you were doing or whether you'd changed careers, this sort of talk is unrealistic and drastic. The folks running med schools and residencies are still just ordinary human beings who know that stuff happens and people need help. To choose to avoid medicine for such a lengthy chain of "what-if's" just seems silly to me.

And a personal note, in case you're thinking "That's easy for YOU to say" - I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 43, entered med school at age 44, and am "enjoying" life as an intern at age 49. I consider myself very fortunate to be fully functional, but if I had a health setback, I'd enlist all my resources to help me figure out a way to make it work.

On a lighter note, I did take care to find out that if you die, your student loans are forgiven. :laugh: I did want to make sure that my husband wouldn't have a $150K debt to remember me by, if I got hit by a truck.
I'm not worried about my health. I'm 35. I look better, feel better, and am healthier than most 20 year olds. And, I look both ways before crossing the street :laugh: .
 

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natalie, you are an inspiration. As for length of residencie let me tell you this story. I was working at a part time job at night and we had a guy who would wake up at seven and was the foreman for a pipe layer. He would work all day then go to the part time job at night. He would actually sleep in the parking lot at night during down times. he worked welll over 100 hours per week. The moral is that many people work long hours up until their 70-75. To me that is the norm. You might as well be doing something important.
 

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You guys are my heros!!! Just what I needed to hear (or rather read) after long hours of studying for the MCAT on this Saturday night. I am nearing 45 and hopefully nearing the completion of my PhD. Hoping for a med school matriculation date of 2006. As an aside, I am taking the Kaplan MCAT course and I thought that I would be the oldest in the class. Well, I am but only by 2 years. :) I am however prepared to be the oldest in my med school class (but will they be able to guess how much older I really am ;) ). Most people guess my age ~10 years younger. Well, it makes me feel better. Good luck everyone!