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Surgeon with an actual life?

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Dreytonk

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Over the past year I’ve worked as an OR tech and it pretty much reassured my love for surgery. But I’m worried about hours. My mother was always home but my dad was not. I don’t want to be this kind of father to my children. I want to be a surgeon, but I value time with my family the most.

So my question is... is it typical for a surgeon to work 50 hours or less a week in a hospital, urban or rural doesn’t matter to me, make around $300k, and have a super good family life? Or should I just become a PA and specialize in surgery?

My dream is to be a surgeon but my family will always come first
 

SpartanWolverine

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There may be options by the time you're an attending, but what about the time you spend getting into/in medical school and residency? That's at least a decade where it will be difficult to have a 'super good' family life. You give no indication as to what kind of time frame you're considering but that's certainly something to keep in mind.
 
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ThoracicGuy

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Over the past year I’ve worked as an OR tech and it pretty much reassured my love for surgery. But I’m worried about hours. My mother was always home but my dad was not. I don’t want to be this kind of father to my children. I want to be a surgeon, but I value time with my family the most.

So my question is... is it typical for a surgeon to work 50 hours or less a week in a hospital, urban or rural doesn’t matter to me, make around $300k, and have a super good family life? Or should I just become a PA and specialize in surgery?

My dream is to be a surgeon but my family will always come first

It depends. Your salary will depend on what job, your location, exact specialty, and if you are private pay or employed. Could you work 50 hours a week when you just get started? Maybe, but probably less likely. Would you be able to make $300k on 50 hours? Possibly, but it'd probably be in a rural location.

Can you have a good family life? Absolutely. I have a son who'll be two soon and I'm home almost every day by 5 pm. I get plenty of time to play with him.
 
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Dreytonk

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There may be options by the time you're an attending, but what about the time you spend getting into/in medical school and residency? That's at least a decade where it will be difficult to have a 'super good' family life. You give no indication as to what kind of time frame you're considering but that's certainly something to keep in mind.

That’s true. I was planning to have kids maybe towards the end of my residency. I’m okay with not having a super good family life in the beginning. When my friends are getting married at 31, I’ll be content with being in med school at that time instead. I’ve slways wanted to be older before having kids anyways. I just wanted to make sure that once I do have them, I can be there for them
 

Dreytonk

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It depends. Your salary will depend on what job, your location, exact specialty, and if you are private pay or employed. Could you work 50 hours a week when you just get started? Maybe, but probably less likely. Would you be able to make $300k on 50 hours? Possibly, but it'd probably be in a rural location.

Can you have a good family life? Absolutely. I have a son who'll be two soon and I'm home almost every day by 5 pm. I get plenty of time to play with him.

I definitely didn’t think to emphasis on that. Of course $300k in Florida is more than $300k in California. My apologies. That’s good that you’re home every day though especially in thoracic
 

Moose A Moose

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You have plenty of time to figure out the lifestyle aspect.

You need to decide whether you're more inclined to becoming a PA or MD/DO. If you're worried about "working hard" now, or being short on time, surg may not be your niche. Just how it is... that being said- unless they're a masochist or just starting out post residency- the majority of gen surg attendings that I've worked with seem to have a great lifestyle.
 
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Dreytonk

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You have plenty of time to figure out the lifestyle aspect.

You need to decide whether you're more inclined to becoming a PA or MD/DO. If you're worried about "working hard" now, or being short on time, surg may not be your niche. Just how it is... that being said- unless they're a masochist or just starting out post residency- the majority of gen surg attendings that I've worked with seem to have a great lifestyle.

I’m okay with working hard. I currently work right at 80 hours per week but I’m young. Wouldn’t wanna do this when I’m older with kids. I think anything under 60 hours a week average would be easy to maintain given my work life the past few years. That will actually be a cut back. I want to be a doctor the absolute most, but my kids will always be my priority. I know plenty of doctors working 80+ a week and still making all the time in the world for their family and that’s nice but seems extremely hard for me personally. I don’t want that sort of stress on my marriage or parenting
 

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There is a rural rotation built into my residency where we go out and spend time with this group. They probably work about 40-50 hours most weeks with some extended outliers here and there. Not a bad gig for a general surgeon and pay is very fair. But before you get to that position, you'll pay for it during your residency. Your eyes shouldn't necessarily be on the end game, but rather on the grind that gets you there. I can one day envision myself as an attending, but mostly because I just really f**king love the game that is surgery. Cheers.
 
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Cyphix

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Yes, it's possible. Once you finish your training, there will be many opportunities to craft your job as a surgeon to fit the lifestyle you want. This of course depends highly on your flexibility choosing a job with respect to location, surgical case mix, practice infrastructure, payment schedule, etc.

That said, less than 50 hours per week is on the low side for any doctor.
 

Dreytonk

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There is a rural rotation built into my residency where we go out and spend time with this group. They probably work about 40-50 hours most weeks with some extended outliers here and there. Not a bad gig for a general surgeon and pay is very fair. But before you get to that position, you'll pay for it during your residency. Your eyes shouldn't necessarily be on the end game, but rather on the grind that gets you there. I can one day envision myself as an attending, but mostly because I just really f**king love the game that is surgery. Cheers.

I would actually prefer rural so I guess that’s good. I was thinking maybe they would have to work more since there’s less doctors but maybe they just have to be on call more I suppose. Thanks for your response
 

Dreytonk

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Yes, it's possible. Once you finish your training, there will be many opportunities to craft your job as a surgeon to fit the lifestyle you want. This of course depends highly on your flexibility choosing a job with respect to location, surgical case mix, practice infrastructure, payment schedule, etc.

That said, less than 50 hours per week is on the low side for any doctor.

I would think that too. Honestly between 50 - 60 is fine. Once I start getting over 60 for an average week is when I would be worried. A 65+ week here and there though definitely isn’t bad
 

TypeADissection

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I would actually prefer rural so I guess that’s good. I was thinking maybe they would have to work more since there’s less doctors but maybe they just have to be on call more I suppose. Thanks for your response

They share call q4 so that translates to 1-2 weekdays per week and a weekend of call per month. The luxury they have is that they can ship things up the road to a bigger hospital (like the one I'm training in) if something disastrous comes in the middle of the night. Lots of elective hernias, colons, breast, etc. Very much a bread and butter kind of general surgery practice. Cheers.

But let's be serious, what's the worst part of q2 call?

Missing half of the good cases.
 
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Gilakend

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I shadowed an ortho surgeon who coached both his kids soccer teams when they were young. He said he only ever missed 1 of their musical recitals.
 

ThoracicGuy

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I definitely didn’t think to emphasis on that. Of course $300k in Florida is more than $300k in California. My apologies. That’s good that you’re home every day though especially in thoracic

I didn't really see you putting an emphasis on it, just more something to think about. Salary and time spent working correlates pretty well, so you're not going to earn as much working 50 hours as you would 70 hours. Also, you're probably more apt to find a place that will pay higher salaries at more rural areas. You may end up being the only guy there so you could end up having more hours. @dpmd works to the schedule she wants so she can give some insight into this part as well.
 
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dpmd

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I didn't really see you putting an emphasis on it, just more something to think about. Salary and time spent working correlates pretty well, so you're not going to earn as much working 50 hours as you would 70 hours. Also, you're probably more apt to find a place that will pay higher salaries at more rural areas. You may end up being the only guy there so you could end up having more hours. @dpmd works to the schedule she wants so she can give some insight into this part as well.
I am averaging 20 hrs a week (at least according to what I tell my malpractice insurer, it has been a while since I really calculated it). I take 6 calls per month that are 24hr but not in house. I have one half day a week of clinic and one half day a week assisting another surgeon. How much I work depends on how busy those calls are, how many cases the other guy schedules, and how many new patients I see in clinic who need surgery. I do a lot of volunteer activities so often my call days are clustered into 2 or 3 weeks of the month and I am totally off for a week or two but the months I don't do that have plenty of down time throughout the month. I am private practice with a deal where I only pay x percent of collections to a guy for overhead so it works out great. I think my net profit is right where you are looking at and the area I am in is not very rural. Started this gig a year out of residency. So it can be done. My first job was at my training institution and I got paid around what you are looking for and probably averaged 30 hrs a week (some of it just sort of hanging out because I knew the residents and students). But in that job I would have taken a pay cut due to rvus after my guarantee was up.
 
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doc05

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Over the past year I’ve worked as an OR tech and it pretty much reassured my love for surgery. But I’m worried about hours. My mother was always home but my dad was not. I don’t want to be this kind of father to my children. I want to be a surgeon, but I value time with my family the most.

So my question is... is it typical for a surgeon to work 50 hours or less a week in a hospital, urban or rural doesn’t matter to me, make around $300k, and have a super good family life? Or should I just become a PA and specialize in surgery?

My dream is to be a surgeon but my family will always come first

Keep in mind that med school, residency, fellowship are the years when many folks get married, have kids, and then get divorced. Because working 80-100 hours a week can be a stressor.

But once you become an attending, you work a little less, and can have that super good family life ... with your second wife.
 
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Dreytonk

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I am averaging 20 hrs a week (at least according to what I tell my malpractice insurer, it has been a while since I really calculated it). I take 6 calls per month that are 24hr but not in house. I have one half day a week of clinic and one half day a week assisting another surgeon. How much I work depends on how busy those calls are, how many cases the other guy schedules, and how many new patients I see in clinic who need surgery. I do a lot of volunteer activities so often my call days are clustered into 2 or 3 weeks of the month and I am totally off for a week or two but the months I don't do that have plenty of down time throughout the month. I am private practice with a deal where I only pay x percent of collections to a guy for overhead so it works out great. I think my net profit is right where you are looking at and the area I am in is not very rural. Started this gig a year out of residency. So it can be done. My first job was at my training institution and I got paid around what you are looking for and probably averaged 30 hrs a week (some of it just sort of hanging out because I knew the residents and students). But in that job I would have taken a pay cut due to rvus after my guarantee was up.

This is like my dream life. What part of the country are you in? And what kind of surgery do you do?
 

Dreytonk

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There are some good youtube videos online that I can't remember off the top of my head of surgeons describing how they balance life and work, might be helpful.

Yeah I watch YouTube videos on them religiously. Buck Parker is my favorite
 
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Dreytonk

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Keep in mind that med school, residency, fellowship are the years when many folks get married, have kids, and then get divorced. Because working 80-100 hours a week can be a stressor.

But once you become an attending, you work a little less, and can have that super good family life ... with your second wife.

I don’t know why I found this reply hilarious lol but yeah, I’m all for the 80-100 hours during residency. I look forward to earning it in a way. But definitely not wanting it as a permanent lifestyle. As long as I’m under 60 hours I think I’ll be happy. But closer to 50 is preferred. :)
 

dpmd

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This is like my dream life. What part of the country are you in? And what kind of surgery do you do?
Central california. Doing general surgery largely acute stuff so appy, chole, hernia, and the occasional intra abdominal catastrophe or necrotizing fasciitis keeping things spicy. On call it is rare for me to have to leave the house from dinner to whatever time I start add ons the next day. But I get awakened often enough for it to be tiring. Makes the next day pretty busy but that is something I can predict. The dream job is actually what the guy I assist does: no call, two half days a week of clinic, one half day at the hospital for big cases and a day and a half at the surgery center which cuts down to just one day when he goes to mammoth which he does every other weekend in winter and occasionally during the summer. The other weekends he goes to his beach condo. Big cases are done Tuesday so they go home before he leaves Thursdays night or Friday morning or I babysit them (in return he sees my outpatients when I am out of town). I hope to eventually transition to something like that but I have no idea how much he makes (older dual physician couple so they have accumulated wealth and he doesn't really need to work).
 
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