What are some common premed misconceptions about medical specialties? What is it REALLY like?

AnatomyGrey12

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@AnatomyGrey12 @OrthoTraumaMD how do gen surg and ortho lifestyles differ post residency/fellowship? I've read gen surg is more medicine + surgery than ortho once you become an attending... does that mean there's inherently more "work" involved in gen surg?
No there isn’t more work in GS. Orthopods are some of the most blue collar workers I know, although that is a trait that I personally think is similar across all surgical specialties. It is true there is a good amount of medicine in general surgery, as a lot of them are primary on their patients throughout the hospital stay (although some people have IM cover while inpatient).

Both have a wide range of what life post training is like. Both have the ability to customize to what you want if you are flexible with location and salary.
 
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Anti-PD1

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For neurosurgery

-It can get busy, but I love it, neurosurgeons love the acuity and pace, so time flies
-There is an amazing variety within the specialty. All neurosurgeons should know how to manage basic spine, neurotrauma, cortical tumors, shunts etc. But within neurosurgery, you can focus on complex or MIS spine, neurotrauma/critical care, open and endo cerebrovascular, functional, epilepsy, pediatrics, tumor, skull base, peripheral nerve. You can be private, privademic, academic.
-Neurosurgeons tend to be chill, have a good sense of humor, it helps to cope with the morbidity we see
-Not everything is death and dying, sure there are bad aneurysm ruptures, and traumas. Tumors can be depressing, but you can offer some salvage is terrible cases, preserve a patient's critical abilities in their last year of life. A lot of neurosurgery is improving peoples lives i.e. spine, epilepsy and movement disorder surgery, and preventing future calamities - coiling or clipping unruptured aneurysms, shunt for hydrocephalus. How many times I've seen acute SDH or EDH go from blown pupils to walking out of my hospital, it's very satisfying
-Most of neurosurgery is basic plumbing. We are always working to take pressure off the central and peripheral nervous system (i.e. cranis, EVD, decompression of spinal canal or nerve roots, evacuation of blood clot, shunts, tumors)
-Neurosurgery is very unrelated to neuroscience, the only exception is specific research/functional+epilepsy surgery
-Neurology and neurosurgery are very unrelated, except functional+epilepsy, still we live on different time scales - neurology treats MS, we treat herniation
-Being a neurosurgeon is not about being the smartest, it's about working hard and having clinical awareness, and hustle, and loving doing this
-You can decide how much you want to see your family i.e. your subspecialty and practice environment, having research interests or not
 
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Ultravox Vienna

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I've heard a lot about how anesthesia is monotonous work. Can anybody comment on this? (haven't had the chance to shadow an anesthesiologist yet)
 
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Angus Avagadro

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Anesthesia is very much like surgery. You can work at a small community hospital doing bread and butter cases or subspecialize at tertiary centers. So, yes, like anything, routine cases can be monotonous. Spine cases in neurosurg or ortho can be monltonous. There are anesthesia boards in Critical care, Pain management, Cardiothoracic, Pediatrics, Echocardiography, Acute pain services with nerve blocks for post surgical and cancer pain, etc. It's a very broad field.
 
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No there isn’t more work in GS. Orthopods are some of the most blue collar workers I know, although that is a trait that I personally think is similar across all surgical specialties. It is true there is a good amount of medicine in general surgery, as a lot of them are primary on their patients throughout the hospital stay (although some people have IM cover while inpatient).

Both have a wide range of what life list training is like. Both have the ability to customize to what you want if you are flexible with location and salary.

Agree with all of the above. It varies.
 

Angus Avagadro

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Absolutely agree with the comments about ortho and being cerebral physicians. I know several self depreciating orthopedists who say things like " See those squiggly lines on the monitor? That tells me the Ancef is being carried to the bone." We all laugh, but we both know they were AOA. My 2 favorite were the orthopedist for our local Pro football team, who played football and who started at a Big 10 university. The other a scrawny 6 ft 150 lb ortho/ oncologist . Both probably one of the top on the east coast in their respective fields.
 
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ewax

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Absolutely agree with the comments about ortho and being cerebral physicians. I know several self depreciating orthopedists who say things like " See those squiggly lines on the monitor? That tells me the Ancef is being carried to the bone." We all laugh, but we both know they were AOA. My 2 favorite were the orthopedist for our local Pro football team, who played football and who started at a Big 10 university. The other a scrawny 6 ft 150 lb ortho/ oncologist . Both probably one of the top on the east coast in their respective fields.

Haha, made me think of an old joke...

what do you call two orthobros looking at an EKG? A doubled blinded study.
 
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I had the misconception that radiologists sit in dark rooms all day reading scans by themselves. I shadowed two who reaffirmed this stereotype (including one who said that they chose radiology specifically to not talk to people). But then on the interview trail one of my interviewers was having a blast reading scans with his coworkers (I feel like he was making eye contact with one of his coworkers during the interview) and he also frequently met with patients! His goals were very similar to mine so that was very cool to see--never thought I'd relate to a radiologist
20 years into a radiology practice, I had same misconceptions as a student. I went into radiology because they were the happiest doctors. Some like to hide in a dark room. I inject 5-10 joints a day when In the hospital and work from home 50%. The only colleagues I have that don’t wish they went into radiology are the pathologists.
 
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LimpSpatula

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I think a big misconception would be the respect premeds think doctors command. It is mostly a thankless job. Most of your patients don’t listen to you and the general public has moved more to anti science or appreciation for actual expertise. And last but not least, life will go on. Your friends and family do not put themselves on hold for you to complete medical training or because you dislike your job. You have to dig deep to get some insight into the specialty that’s going to provide you with the most meaning, irrespective of what the outside world does or thinks about it.
 
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Eye-eye

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You can work your ass off and even have a good app for the specialty of your dreams - your passion in medicine - and still not match, and be told that you should go ahead and consider other fields...

I doubt that's what you're looking for, but it's sure kicked me on my ass this week.
 
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Angus Avagadro

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You can work your ass off and even have a good app for the specialty of your dreams - your passion in medicine - and still not match, and be told that you should go ahead and consider other fields...

I doubt that's what you're looking for, but it's sure kicked me on my ass this week.
Very true. The competetion for residency slots is becoming fierce. Playing the match game well may soon require backup planning too. My matched his 4th choice for fellowship and he was Chief Resident.
 

Eye-eye

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Very true. The competetion for residency slots is becoming fierce. Playing the match game well may soon require backup planning too. My matched his 4th choice for fellowship and he was Chief Resident.
Surgical subspecialties are f***ing brutal. And even less love for reapplicants that the data might suggest, from my limited experience. But we'll see how it goes. I haven't (quite) given up yet
 
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Emergency Medicine has a lotttt more paperwork than resuscitations and crazy codes. I personally don't mind the paperwork, but many underestimate how much it is.

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Spikebd

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20 years into a radiology practice, I had same misconceptions as a student. I went into radiology because they were the happiest doctors. Some like to hide in a dark room. I inject 5-10 joints a day when In the hospital and work from home 50%. The only colleagues I have that don’t wish they went into radiology are the pathologists.
Why do the pathologists not wish they went into radiology?
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Why do the pathologists not wish they went into radiology?

Path is very chill. Some job market concerns right now, but the job itself can be great. I spent some time in the path lab with the residents and a couple attendings, and they were all extremely happy.
 
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20 years into a radiology practice, I had same misconceptions as a student. I went into radiology because they were the happiest doctors. Some like to hide in a dark room. I inject 5-10 joints a day when In the hospital and work from home 50%. The only colleagues I have that don’t wish they went into radiology are the pathologists.
You must have very few colleagues. I think I’ve spoken to a total of one physician wishing they went into radiology.

Radiology certainly isn’t bad, of course. But most physicians are happy with their specialty choice.
 

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Are interventional radiology and interventional cardiology monotonous specialties? They sound interesting but then I get concerned about constantly doing the same procedure over and over...
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Are interventional radiology and interventional cardiology monotonous specialties? They sound interesting but then I get concerned about constantly doing the same procedure over and over...

My friend is an IR and doesn’t think it’s boring. There is a pretty good variety of procedures.
 
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Angus Avagadro

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Are interventional radiology and interventional cardiology monotonous specialties? They sound interesting but then I get concerned about constantly doing the same procedure over and over...
IR is not monotonous. They treat some really sick patients, ie. Too sick to operate, etc. Plus, they get the Fri night cold leg that the cardiologist or vascular surgeon doesn't want to see. I'm just saying they take lots of call and many cases can't wait till the am.
 
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