Soon to be 4th year: Should I be a surgeon

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by COBuffs, Apr 30, 2012.

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  1. COBuffs

    COBuffs 2+ Year Member

    May 25, 2009
    Big apple
    Hi there. Let me start by saying I loved my surgery rotation. I came off of that rotation completely set on applying to general surgery this coming year. However I am starting to worry that I am making a mistake. Looking for some advice from people who are living the surgical life style, not my advisors who of course think everyone should be a surgeon!!! Basically, I know residency is gonna be arduous (although Im hoping after intern year things don't suck so much???). My main question is what kind of lifestyle can I expect after residency as an attending surgeon? I love surgery, but I am also the kind of person who wants to enjoy my life and have kids (yes I am a 20 something woman with babies on the mind...). Am I crazy to go into surgery? Would I be better off in my second choice, OBGYN (I know this residency is also difficult but I also know that as an attending the hours can really be tailored to whatever you want to do). I would greatly appreciate any honest advice on how bad the lifestyle really is.... Thanks guys!
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  3. doc05

    doc05 2K Member 10+ Year Member

    May 24, 2003
    sounds like maybe you should find another field.

    best of luck!
  4. SLUser11

    SLUser11 CRS 10+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2005
    I already knew you were female from the first couple sentences of your post, but then I felt guilty and wondered if I was hindsight, I think it was the number of !!! and ??? in your post that gave you away.

    I think you'd be better off choosing another specialty. One of the hardest things about being a female in surgery is meeting guys and having relationships...that being said, I honestly think internet dating is the solution to this.

    OBGYN is also a difficult residency, but having babies during OB residency is actually a requirement at most places. In surgery, most co-workers resent their co-residents who take time off for kids, as it screws too much with the call schedule.

    Once you're in practice, you can cater your schedule based on your goals. You can find a job working less (and making less) in either surgery or OBGYN, but you'll be making those decisions in your early thirties, and if having a big family is a priority, that may be too late to get started.
  5. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Lifetime Donor SDN Chief Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    FWIW, as a female surgeon, meeting men was not the hardest thing about residency. Not a problem for me but I understand it was for many (let's not even get into the discussion, a favorite on SDN, about how female surgeons are not desirable partners).

    However, I did not have "babies on the mind". If that's where you're at, please realize that even the most forward thinking general surgery program still tends to frown upon residents having babies during residency. OBG is more open to it (but still not as open to it as Peds and FM).

    Can you delay having babies until you've finished training? Will you have a supportive partner? And when I say supportive, I don't mean someone who makes a pouty face and gives you a hug when you say, "I'm tired" but someone who will be available to pick up the kids from daycare, someone who will get them bathed and fed when you are at the hospital late. Things have changed hours wise since I was a resident, but there is still some unpredictability and all female surgery residents/attendings I know with children have partners who have a much less demanding career (or at SAHD).

    Like SLUser, I also knew you were female by the end of the second sentence of your post. I'm curious as to where you're at where all of your advisors think "everyone should be a surgeon" especially female students. That is a HIGHLY unusual reception.

    At any rate, if your priority is family and having babies, then general surgery is generally a difficult road. Its not impossible, but GS residency is hardly family friendly.

    Finally, moving to Clinical Rotations where such questions belong (the Physician forums are for topics of interest to Physicians).
  6. winkleweizen

    winkleweizen 5+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2011
    Obgyn and surgery? Gross and ewww
    W19 likes this.
  7. Not saying that surgeons can't have families, and I'm an almost-M4 just like you, but this statement makes me think that you should stay away from the specialty.

    Let's face it. Surgery is not known for easily providing ample time to "enjoy your life" outside the operating room.

    There's no way I would try to match into surgery, though, so that's just my two cents.
  8. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod 7+ Year Member

    Your post is very centered around lifestyle, so I'd imagine you'd probably be happier in another specialty. However, I'm not sure OB/Gyn is the solution you're looking for. That's an exceptionally brutal residency (and lifestyle thereafter), as well. Unless you don't mind letting other people deliver your patients, you're basically always on call, attending or not.
  9. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Oct 17, 2011
    New York
    I don't know much, but from what I do know, it sounds like surgery isn't for you.
  10. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    No, intern year will probably be one of your easier years, since you can't take call. I did take call, and PGY-2 has probably been harder than my intern year, but it's also because the interns aren't in the call pool any more, so I've been taking more call than I did as an intern.

    I have an attending who had 2-3 children as a surgery resident, but she is by far the exception. I've never met a pregnant surgery resident, although both of my chiefs on OB were pregnant, and the other senior resident had just had a baby...

    I've had children during residency, but I'm the father, and my wife does the majority of child care. Even still, it's incredibly challenging. I can't even imagine doing this as their mother. Some people do it, but I'd want to die.
  11. Day man

    Day man 5+ Year Member

    Nov 18, 2008
    it's always sunny
    we have to go back!
  12. RoadRunner17

    RoadRunner17 Fleet of feet Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    May 12, 2007
    Having just finished the third year surgery clerkship, here's my personal opinion based on what I've gleaned from my residents/attendings: when it comes to a career in surgery, if you have any significant doubts about the lifestyle, it's probably not worth it. Similar to the adage that if you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can't afford it. Certainly it's normal to have doubts about the lifestyle but I'm of the opinion that if its a significant doubt, then it's probably not going to be worth it for you. Although n=5, the several residents and attendings I've talked to about this knew going in that lifestyle was not going to be great, but they couldn't see themselves being happy doing anything else. And so they went into general surgery.

    a MS3's 2c (aka don't take my opinion too seriously since I'm just as clueless as you are.)
  13. todds

    todds Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2004
    There are plenty of women who are going into surgery these days and talking to them, they want to have children in the future.

    With that said, you really need to ask yourself if you LOVE surgery. If you LOVE it and can't think of anything else in life, then go for it. I think what others are alluding to is that you probably won't get good support to have children in RESIDENCY.

    But once thats done, you can tailor your lifestyle thats more suitable, however noting that you will make considerably less than your colleagues for doing this. You have to know that if you choose to work less hours in medicine, the pay doesn't linearly decrease it decreases substantially more because bills in your practice will always be fixed. But if its worth it to you, then do it.

    Lifestyle is not any better in OB/Gyn but theyll be more supportive of you having children IN residency. Have you thought about surgical subspecialties such as ENT, Ortho, Urology? Tough to get into but often have better schedules post residency than GS.
  14. sirius08

    sirius08 7+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2008
    Agree with others who have said that you shouldn't go into surgery unless you can't see yourself happy doing anything else. I think a lot of people are surprised to find that they really enjoyed their surgery rotation... and why not? It's a fascinating and challenging field, and those of us who have made it this far in medicine are sure to find great value in those qualities. The relatively high status of surgeons is also undeniably appealing. But you need to ask yourself whether the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards of surgery (and ob-gyn, for that matter), whatever those rewards are to you, are worth the stress, time, and energy that the field demands, and whether you might find at least some of those rewards in another field. Five years of 80+ hours of some really interesting / lots of really tedious work per week is a significant part of your life, and while you can switch paths mid-residency, it'd be a whole lot easier if you didn't have to.
  15. Miss Alyssa

    Miss Alyssa Member 7+ Year Member

    Mar 10, 2005
    I'm surprised that ob/gyn came up as an option to a question about lifestyle:confused:

    When do you want to have children? I'm going to assume you want to do it with a significant other in your life (planning to be a single parent during residency would be a task). Are you currently in a relationship?
  16. username456789

    username456789 7+ Year Member

    May 24, 2009

    Just do Derm. Problem solved.
  17. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

    Oct 17, 2011
    New York

  18. myhandsarecold

    myhandsarecold 2+ Year Member

    Dec 2, 2009
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  19. PTPoeny

    PTPoeny Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 3, 2005
    How does OB make it so much more possible to have babies during residency than the surgical subspecialties? The OB residents still need to make numbers on deliveries and surgeries. Is it all attitude of the other residents and them being willing to rearrange schedules a little bit when someone gets pregnant? Or is there more of a structural basis for the difference? Are there some or more light months in OB? Do they all just see other residents so they don't have to take off as much time?
  20. COBuffs

    COBuffs 2+ Year Member

    May 25, 2009
    Big apple
    Thanks for the insight guys. And no I definitely do not wants kids IN residency, but I would like them at some point in life. And I know that other specialties are easier to tailor to lifestyle, but honestly couldn't stand any of them - despite having some pretty great hours....
  21. tmac514

    tmac514 Word 2+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2012
    I want to put in my two cents, even though I'm just a first year. I happen to know a single mother with two children, who is a specialized surgeon. She has great kids, and found the time and energy to raise them while doing her job (nannies and family help were necessary along the road). If you love surgery and love having a family, you'll figure it out.
    Piknapoda likes this.
  22. chrisisinnocent

    chrisisinnocent Elbow deep 7+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2006
    New York City
    Choosing Ob/Gyn over Surgery for lifestyle is jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. And we also resent people taking time off to have babies but it's just sort of begrudgingly tolerated since the field has become 85% women and it would seem hypocritical to publicly complain.
  23. Sheldor

    Sheldor 5+ Year Member

    May 21, 2011
    At my institution OB had better hours than surgery, as in 5-5 instead of 5-7. Doesn't seem like much, but being home in time for dinner when you have a family is a big deal.
  24. MilkmanAl

    MilkmanAl Al the Ass Mod 7+ Year Member

    "Better" doesn't mean "good," however. I feel like you could improve on 5-5 with just about every other specialty.
  25. Sheldor

    Sheldor 5+ Year Member

    May 21, 2011
    Absolutely, 5-5 is still terrible in my opinion. However, since those were the two specialties the OP is considering, I only addressed those. Totally agree with you.
  26. Oxer45

    Oxer45 2+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    It seems most female residents who have kids during residency tend to have very supportive parents or a spouse who stays at home or has flexible work hours. I've seen female med students in my class specifically seek out guys who dont have demanding jobs.
  27. Piknapoda


    Dec 28, 2016
    I became pregnant in second year, delivered during surgery clerkship, now a fourth, preparing for surgery residency. I plan on ticking off my colleagues by having another child while in residency. My spouse is an MS3. We have no family near us. We have daycare. My child is perfectly healthy and happy. Surgery is in my blood. I enjoy waking up at 3am to round. I enjoy being in surgery for 16hours and having the time fly by. I will be a bar-raising surgeon regardless of the fact that I have a functional uterus.

    That being said; I am the minority. I am obviously crazy or unbelievably stubborn (or both).

    If you are hoping to have a life, surgery and OB are not for you. This doesn't make you a lesser person; it probably makes you smarter. I already had my life. I'm ready to be boring.

    Though I know nothing, I can gather this: surgery residency is a commitment for those who can't stand spending down time with themselves.

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