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Surgical residency and family life

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by FourthTime, Aug 16, 2001.

  1. FourthTime

    FourthTime Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    I'm only an MS1, but am seriously considering a surgical career given my affinity for gross anatomy (and other things...). I'm married now and will probably have children by the time I enter residency. My question is: how much free time does a surgical resident get during a 5 year general surgery residency? Is it possible to be a surgical resident and a "dad" too? I'd love to hear from anyone out there doing it with kids (or know others who are).
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  3. PimplePopperMD

    PimplePopperMD Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 14, 2000
    I'm only an M-3, but having almost completed the surgery rotation, I can tell you that it's pretty rough on residents. Even the senior residents are on call every third night, and as a student, I've been working 85-100 hours per week (they consistently work at least 5-10 hours more than I do per week).

    If you love it, it's worth it. From my standpoint, I couldn't get paid enough money to deal with this sort of lifestyle. It really sucks. One of the interns started late June, and has had two days off... never a weekday, so he still hasn't taken care of business properly (ie just bought a bed, etc...) Almost two months!

    Anyway, glad that someone wants to do it.
  4. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    Most of my fellow residents are married and several have children. I obviously cannot comment on the effectiveness of their parenting, but agree with others that it must be incredibly difficult.

    As PimplePopper suggests, the hours are horrendous. I'd even up them to an average of 115 hours per week, or more depending on the service (ie, on Trauma is very likely that you will never sleep while on call and you don't go home early). The Chiefs stay with us all day - they come in an hour later to round with us but they stay until we're done. Which has been around 9 pm on Trauma. Someone is always on on the weekends and if you have only 2 senior residents on service, you can bet you will be working at LEAST every other weekend, and likely more.

    This varies greatly depending on the program and the service, as I've noted. Few residencies are conducive to family life; only you can decide whether or not you will be able to make the sacrifices (and know that it will be your family that will suffer, not your surgical residency. It would seem unlikely that you will be warmly received if you ask for additional days off to spend with them, try to leave early or come in later because of family concerns).

    I'll echo PimplePopper MDs experience with his friend: I have yet to do many duties which require a weekday off. I probably WON'T be able to do them until my first vacation week in October. :(
  5. tussy

    tussy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 12, 1999
    I have no husband, boyfriend or children, and even I am having difficulty making time for other things in my life right now. I arrive at the hospital at 6 each day, don't get home until 7 or 8, then have to read for an hour, then I sleep. My apartment is falling apart - dirty dishes are piling up in the sink, and I haven't done laundrey in 2 weeks. In fact, I just went out and bought more socks and underwear so that I could avoid laundrey for another week. The schedule is hell, and I'm not sure how people with spouses or children manage it all (although there are many who do)
  6. droliver

    droliver Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    May 1, 2001
    I have had the complete opposite experience from Kimberli & Tussy during my 3+ years of residency. Here @ the Univ. of Louisville (shameless plug for the program :D ) we certainly have some trying rotations (as Kimberli may attest to - She rotated here as a 4th year student) which are physically demanding, but here at least there are a lot of rotations that really are not too bad. Since starting my residency I have had time to marry, have a child, work out 3 days a week, and do a number of research products on my on time.
    All programs are trying during your most junior years, but your time demands & call schedule tend to get a bit better. this year for instance: I have 1 month vacation, 4 months with no call @ all, 6 months of home call, an no in house call. Next year I probably only take 2.5-3 mos in house as trauma chief with the rest of the year as home or no call.
    General surgery will never be like path, derm, ENT, or optho in terms of the country-club lifestyle, but it certainly can be possible to "have a life" I feel, and UofL is traditionally one of the toughest programs around for instance.

    Don't be discouraged by what will be a diffucult road for a few years, it really does get better!

  7. FourthTime

    FourthTime Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    Wow. While challenging overall, it sounds like there's quite a bit of variability from program to program. Thanks all for your comments. (Dr. Oliver, I am emailing you for some more information if you don't mind).
  8. kundun

    kundun Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 1999
    I can definitely verify the "country club" lifestyle of an ophthalmologist. Growing up, my dad was always home before I was after school. It seemed like he had more free time than I had.
  9. commymommy

    commymommy *reformed commymommy* 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2000
    Unless surgery is your true passion, my vote is to find a more suitable family-oriented field....The residency years are stressful regardless of the specialty that you choose...but if you are married and are hoping to have a family then you will probably find that you will miss much of the early years.... :( If being there with your children during those years is important to you and you are already planning on having a family...perhaps another specialty would be better?


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