Surgery vs. Rads

Discussion in 'Radiology' started by Scotty3470, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. Scotty3470

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    I'm a rising MS4 trying to decide between surgery and rads. Love the OR, love to operate, lifestyle is holding me back. Also enjoy imaging, technology and anatomy and therefore considering radiology. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
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  3. peduncle

    peduncle Junior Member

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    surgery will guarantee your life to be horrible for the next 6-8 years. I'm exaggerating of course, but most people are pretty miserable during their surgical residency. Do you want to give up your life for it?
     
  4. superdevil

    superdevil planning my escape

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    you know, i would intuitively agree with this, but i'm not sure its true. at my institution, the surgery residents are beasts of burden. when you ask them how they like it, expecting to hear a morose monologue about sleepless nights and missed opportunities, they say they love it. there truly is a psych profile for most surgeons. yes, they work long hours, but most of the surgery residents/fellows/attendings i've met (and even the med students going into surgery) really live that ****. they eat, sleep, and breathe surgery. your mileage on this may vary, of course, its just what i've seen (pretty consistently reproduced, too).

    so, to answer the OP's question, do you want to eat, sleep, and breathe surgery?
     
  5. NPR

    NPR

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    True but if you pick radiology thinking it's purely a lifestyle specialty, it can be equally miserable.

    Tons of work to accomplish especially on night float/call.

    Tons of reading to do upon going home.
     
  6. medgator

    medgator Senior Member
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    ever considered IR?
     
  7. PeepshowJohnny

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    Well, if you ask our surgical attendings and residents, they can read films just as well as a radiologist (and manage patients as well as medicine) so you should do surgery :rolleyes:
     
  8. Taurus

    Taurus Paul Revere of Medicine

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    Just ask yourself, what would you prefer to do or think you can do when you're 55? 65?

    Think long-term and not just about how fun something seems like now. After a while, it's just a job.
     
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  9. Scotty3470

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    This is the OP- thanks for the feedback, will do my surgery subIs and see how much I love it after "living the dream" for a few months.
     
  10. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Tis true!;)
     
  11. osli

    osli Senior Member

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    lol... this may seem strange, but I'd love to be the 86 year old dude that is still up on his stuff and actively reading images... with all the young studs in amazement that I'm not babbling about the days when cars still used gasoline. I think that more than anything else is why I'm so in love with rads - it's honestly something I could enjoy doing without end. Any other specialty would be an interesting career until I was able to retire.

    Of course, by 86 I'll probably have only one eyeball that only partially works and seventeen coronary stents, so my grandiose dreams probably aren't very realistic. :laugh:
     
  12. Taurus

    Taurus Paul Revere of Medicine

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    Interestingly, satisfaction surveys show that some of the happiest radiologists are 65+.

    How many surgeons are still practicing at that age? Surgery is cool and I have the utmost respect for them, but it's a young person's (or middle age) game.
     
  13. osli

    osli Senior Member

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    bingo. Rads is cool for a million other reasons, but it doesn't hurt that it has some real legs as far as job enjoyment. I know a job is a job and that all of them can become a chore at times, but I'd rather take the one that is a chore 10% of the time and not 90% of the time.
     
  14. PeepshowJohnny

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    I have to respectfully disagree.

    Yes, the number drop off greatly, but I think that's true in any field. I just think it's the natural attrition of "I've got a pile of money, my kids are done with school...do I really want to be rounding every day at my age?"
    I haven't noticed surgery being proportionately younger or older than any other field yet. The only field I notice where youth reigns is trauma.

    I do notice the older surgeons do change their practice though. If you're in private practice they lean more and more on their PA or APN for their rounding or move into a more administrative role (in a group practice.) If they're academic, they trade more and more OR with teaching time. But most of the time they've got the gravitas to do that without anybody denigrating them.

    I don't think it's that different in radiology. The "old guard" start focusing on the studies they like and they've got the seniority not to do the stuff they don't like. They are on the call schedule less. They focus on education/administration etc.
     
  15. Taurus

    Taurus Paul Revere of Medicine

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    In private practice, how does a surgeon make money? In the OR. That's why they have to crank through as many surgeries as possible.

    If not in the OR, how many administrative or teaching positions are there and how well do they really pay? There are very few such nice gigs and you have to have to the skill for it.

    I see older rads dictating away all the time. I could easily do rads at 65 and older. I plan to be an independent contractor doing telerads. I plan to never do call once I'm done with residency. Call is evil.

    I actually came to med school thinking I would want to be a surgeon. After 1 surgery rotation, hell no. My back wouldn't survive 30 years of that kind of punishment. You're kidding yourself if you think that a sore back from standing for 6-8 hours day in, day out is good for your body. I heard that eventually all surgeons if they practice long enough develop back problems. Reminds of the saying when you lift weights, "if it hurts, you're probably doing it wrong". Pain is the way your body is telling you that something is not right.

    If you think about it economically, rads has the potential to earn significantly more than most surgeons because of their longer careers. If many surgeons retire by 55-60 but rads can keep going until 70, a rad can earn 10 more years of income. So, even if an ortho can earn 50-100k more than a rad during their prime earning years, the rad actually comes ahead. Just food for thought.
     
    #13 Taurus, Jun 26, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2008
  16. osli

    osli Senior Member

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    If by "change" you mean "retire" then I would agree. Unless I'm off my rocker, I believe surgery has an age limit beyond which retirement is not optional. I don't think there is any such limit for rads (or many other specialties).

    I think the age limit is just 60. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
     
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  18. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Not necessarily. Office based procedures (ie, biopsies) and endoscopy pay more than most operative procedures especially when you consider the time involved.

    That is true for surgeons who don't do the above, because time in the OR pays more than E&M codes in the office, but it is widely recognized that time in the OR is a loss when compared to doing the office based procedures.

    You are wrong. There are no mandatory retirement laws for surgeons and if there were, they would be discriminatory. As a matter of fact, an 85 year old surgeon won a lawsuit against his employer (a hospital) who was trying to force him to retire simply because of his age.

    Surgeons are under no obligation to retire simply because of their age. Experience combined with a quick mind and dexterous hands can perform the trickiest procedure in a quick and sure manner; some of the most skilled surgeons are the older ones.

    Many surgeons will retire at 63 (which I think is the average age). It is also very popular to change your practice to doing endoscopy (see above), breast and outpatient procedures. Little to no call, patients are in better shape and the procedures shorter.
     
  19. OHMAN0125

    OHMAN0125 Poor Member

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    But in the end, a surgeon is still a SURGEON. Im going into radiology but when it comes to respect and etc by most people in society surgeons win hands down in my opinion. I'm not sure what im trying to say, I guess its that every field has its pluses and minuses. You just have to see which one tips ur scale.
     
  20. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    That may be true...there have been some studies which show in terms of "prestige" amongst the general public, surgeons are on top (neurosurgeons as I recall) and psychiatry at the bottom.

    Then again, when asked who you wanted to socialize with, surgeons were at the bottom of the list with pediatricians most preferred.

    Sometimes its lonely at the top! ;)
     
  21. NPR

    NPR

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    You also have to determine how much it matters to you.

    Some people care greatly about this sort of thing.

    Others will ask if respect really matters if you're still trudging into the hospital for 80+ hours a week in your forties/fifties/sixties.
     
  22. osli

    osli Senior Member

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    Thanks for correcting me. I could have sworn that there was in fact an age limit. As far as discrimination (and again... maybe I'm still off my rocker!), is there not precisely such an age limit for commercial airline pilots?
     
  23. osli

    osli Senior Member

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    I just took a quick trip through Google, and it looks like most countries have banned mandatory retirement laws for everyone except military, police, and airline pilots. Surgeons are not excluded, although it looks like the debate has been going on for years as to whether or not they should be. Very interesting. So I was definitely wrong... but it looks like if a law is passed covering a specific profession then discrimination suits are typically useless.

    Oh, and as for the guy whose back can still take the punishment of surgery at 85... hats off!
     
  24. MrBurns10

    MrBurns10 Excellent, Smithers
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    There is a 70 year old gen surgeon who works at the VA that's connected to my school's hospital. Apparently, they "asked" him to retire when he turned 65 so he had to go to the VA instead to still do surgery. Maybe this is an incomplete story, but that's what I heard.
     
  25. PeepshowJohnny

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    Winged Scapula put it better than I ever could. That's very similar to my experience, surgeons decreasing their total "OR" and call time and doing other things, whether they be office procedures/endoscopy or doing administrative/academic work. Now obviously you take a pay cut with the latter but if you've got a nice nest egg, house and loans paid off, kids through school, your economic demands aren't the same as a Junior attending.

    However, I will say a radiologist is likely to be doing work that is more similar if he so chooses as what he did early in his career at the end, but I've also seen "elder' Radiologists picking and choosing what studies they want to do because they don't like mammo or they don't want to do trauma call anymore. Cut in pay? Sure. But again, do they need it?
     
  26. Taurus

    Taurus Paul Revere of Medicine

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    Unlike the OR, surgeons have to compete with other physicians for office procedures. GI docs, colorectal surgeons, even nurses (yes, there's a nurse in Alaska who has done thousands of them) can do colonoscopies. Who says a rads couldn't do them too?

    In the OR, the surgeons have to just compete with other surgeons for turf.

    That's how I look at it.
     
  27. Plue00

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    Do rads.... surgery is long hours
     
  28. abefromann

    abefromann Junior Member

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    do NOT do a specialty based solely on money or lifestyle. it seems attractive now, but you will pay. if you have no explicit interest in one field over another, then by all means, lifestyle is the most important character of a specialty.

    try to remember also that you'll get a lot of **** for most lifestyle specialties from colleagues. I was at a party last night, for instance, and a girl called me a "princess" (I'm a dude) for doing derm. These comments come about almost once a day from colleagues. I mean, they can suck it, but it does get annoying to deal with.

    now, surgery is a WHOLE different ball game. I considered surgery going in, and during 3rd and 4th year talked with a lot of attendings (not just residents). The gist of it is, with something that requires a lot of your time (during residency at least) you should absolutely love it in order to go into. Like, you can't see yourself doing anything else.

    Attendinghood hours vary considerably from practice to practice, from what I can tell. Everyone knows about the gen surg who keeps better hours than the IM guy, or the fam practice doc who works less than the radiologist.

    Keep in mind also (I'm older) that priorities outside of work shift for most people when they hit mid-thirties. Your kids and hobbies start to become more important, and so you'll need to consider that before you get into a specialty committment. Some people don't want to get married or have kids, so whatever.
     
  29. Doublecortin

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    excuse me, and who gives a siht what your colleagues say? I mean, if you have passion for something who really gives a crap what some ignorant/jealous types say (including those in the medical profession)?? Enlightened, educated people know that even derms :rolleyes: provide very valuable service to their patients and sometimes even save lives (melanoma)

    I bet that dumb chick who called you a princess is going to wish in 20 years that she had gone into derm
     
  30. abefromann

    abefromann Junior Member

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    i think everyone cares a little what their colleagues say. after a while it does get to you. are you not even in med school yet, by the way??

    you're right. she may be wishing she'd done derm when she's out in the jungle of the hospitalist world.
     
  31. DrDre311

    DrDre311 Makaveli

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    :laugh::laugh::laugh:

    That's hilarious. I'm going to start calling the derm guys at my program "princess."

    I get a lot of crap from the GS guys here for cutting out 2 years of GS. Whenever they say anything, I just grin real big and and say, "Plastics is where it's at, baby," because I know those guys wish they were in my shoes.

    If an IM resident calls you a princess for doing derm, just smile (make sure you're wearing something pink) and tell them they can come see you for some Botox in 10 years--but they'll have to schedule 6 months in advance because you refuse to interrupt your Thursday golf game.
     
  32. Doublecortin

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    i am starting med school this year, but i am very nontraditional and have been in the "real world" for a while
     
  33. Doublecortin

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    :thumbup:

    I think it's safe to assume that whenever your "colleagues" in other specialties give you siht it's either: 1) they are jealous, 2) they don't know jack about what you actually do
     
  34. Lion-O

    Lion-O Sight beyond sight.

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  35. Tyc00nman

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    lol realworld.
     
    #32 Tyc00nman, Jun 29, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  36. DrDre311

    DrDre311 Makaveli

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    There's no telling how many times that clip has been posted on SDN. It was funny the first 98 times I saw it.

    As for the OP: I've said it before and it bears repeating now--if you're seriously stuck between something like rads and surgery then you don't really want to be a surgeon. There's nothing wrong with that, so make your decision accordingly.
     

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