Why Do People Keep Saying "If You'll Be Happier Doing Something Else..."

cutemom2012

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I get that a medical career is blood, sweat and tears. And expensive. (Husband is a resident, come from a family of docs...)

I have this longing to do it, despite being "older", having kids, having a Masters' etc. But when I hear people say "if you'll be happier doing something else, do that instead". It always makes me think that maybe I'm missing a part of the picture and second guess myself. Those who are in it/went through it, you really believe this saying? Seems 50-50 split on having regrets...
 

TheWeeIceMan

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Well, if your husband is a resident and it hasn't yet dissuaded you from going to medical school than it sounds like you'll be fine.
 
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ChE04

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You should know better than most, if your husband is a resident.

People say do something else if it makes you happy because it's a long, hard road to go down if you're not dedicated to it. If you can be happy doing something else, medicine is not worth it. It's a thankless job with long hours for which you will always feel underpaid and under appreciated unless you actually love the work for the work's sake.
 

alpinism

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Depends on what type of resident…

FWIW it varies from person to person. Many people can't stand the long hrs and sometimes toxic work environment that exists in medicine today. Couple that with the cost of med school and length of training and you've got tons of bitter docs.
 

Jewels86

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As you already know, being a physician is dealing with patients day in and out. With that being said, have you personally had any contact with patients? I'm an ER nurse and let me be the first to tell you, some patients can be very pleasant and grateful. Then there's those that come through the ER. I've seen a lot off "stuff" that you really have to be ready for as a physician, as I'm certain you're seeing your husband go through. Try telling a patient that their endless fatty diet is the reason why they have gallstones and they need to give that up...or that a blood sugar of <250 is not in any way shape or form better than yesterday's reading, it's still a bad reading and judging the amount of your insulin is not based on "how you feel"...or NPO after midnight for their procedure does not include sprite.

Now, I know nursing and physician are different yet symbiotic at the same time. But we deal with patients. And...as you already know, patient's don't listen to doctors. They barely listen to me, but that's because I've only repeated what the physician has said about 8 times and for some, that's still not enough.

I wish you all the best!!
 

DrMidlife

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It's not do something else if you'll be happier, it's if you'll be happy doing something else. Because the time and effort required to become a doctor is completely unreasonable.

Take all your ambitions, put them into words, and take the word "doctor" out. Figure out what you really want and if being a doctor is the only way to get there.

Want to help people? Be a nurse, social worker, hospital administrator. Or a doctor.

Want to know everything about disease? Be a researcher, teacher, pharmacist. Or a doctor.

Want to work in global health? Be a civil engineer and build roads and water systems. Be a logistician. Be a fundraiser. Or be a doctor.

Like the adrenaline of an ER/OR? Be a paramedic, nurse, scrub tech, surgical device salesperson. Or be a doctor.

Want to be respected and change the world to be a better place? Start a business, be an employer, work your way into leadership at an existing profit-driven company and change that company to be non-profit. Or be a doctor.

Want to make a lot of money? Study business and create something that can be sold at huge markup. Be a hospital administrator, IT/engineering executive, policy lobbyist. Being a doctor is a fairly dumb way to go after a high stable income.

Want to be part of the problem in the current US healthcare system? Don't think about any of this before you start med school, and then expect medicine to make you happy.

Best of luck to you.
 

Quik

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Well put, Dr.Midlife. I'll add the questions/reasons I've been asked why I want to be a doctor, and go through 10+ years of grueling work before I reach the "pay-off point" that is the physician salary.

1. Why not Physicians Assistant? Two years and you're done, no residency, you can switch specialties on a whim, and you're doing practically whatever a doctor does. Plus, the payoff for a PA is much faster, and in the long-run probably better than an MD and certainly a DO starting at your age (30 y/o).

My answer: Well, I love the challenge that 10+ years of really hard work and the sacrifices presents. I don't want to be on the other side of a quick 2-year program, becoming bored or regretting the decision to not pursue an MD or DO simply based on the ROI of the PA vs MD investment. I love long, drawn out difficult work. That is where I thrive, and I intend to enjoy the journey and the temporary misery that comes with med school. I'm also not doing it just for the money. Sure, I do want to make a good living and the pay is one of many motivators, but it's not the exclusive reason. As an altruistic person, I want the somewhat constant feedback knowing that with each patient I treat, whether or not they recognize it, I am helping them. Having the training to help people in the most important ways, providing health services, is an incredible and rewarding power. I want the possibility of working for myself, calling the shots, and starting my own practices and businesses. I am an entrepreneur at heart, and being a physician presents the most opportunity in the health field.

2. Are you worried about being old (~40) when you're just starting out after completing your residency and fellowship(s)?

My answer: No, everybody (who survives it) will turn 40 one day. I can either be 40 and unhappy doing what I'm doing now, or I can be 40 and begin practicing medicine. I'd be much happier being a 40 year old doctor than a 40 year old environmental consultant. I will still have a good 25 year full-time career before I'll even think about wanting to slow down, even then, I don't plan on quitting (retiring).

3. You already have a master's and are making good money now. Why not continue in that career field?

My answer: For a short time, I will. It is though, just means to an end. It does not make me happy, satisfied, or fulfilled with my work-life. While an environmental consulting career sounds like one is doing great work to maintain environmental quality, the reality, is that they are simply most often a tool for industrial development, to help developers, industries, etc jump through the regulatory hoops to obtain the permits that will allow their environmentally degrading projects. I'm not anti-development nor do I believe these projects shouldn't be allowed, but the work in and of itself, does not provide the personal satisfaction of doing good for the environment that I sought when pursuing this from a young under-grad.

These are the basic antagonistic questions I hear most often. I appreciate them. Each time I answer them, my response is more sure and confident, and I can explain each answer without reservation. It is intimidating, the road ahead, but promising and inspiring all the same. I throughly intend on enjoying "chasing the carrot" as one wife of an MD so well put it.
 

Goro

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Because it's really hard work, and a long and expensive process?


Same reason I'd suggest to my kids to get a research masters and be a tech/staff scientist/research associate instead of getting a PhD.


I have this longing to do it, despite being "older", having kids, having a Masters' etc. But when I hear people say "if you'll be happier doing something else, do that instead".
 

thefritz

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Being a doctor is a fairly dumb way to go after a high stable income.
Well then the vast majority of people who went to medical school must be pretty dumb then. There are high incomes and their are stable incomes, but there are very few high stable incomes out there and that's why virtually everyone came into the field. Whether or not that's why they stay is a different question. I remember when I first started and I told a guy I was going to med school and he said "aw, that's cheating." I didn't understand it at the time, but now I get it -- sometimes I just feel like a sellout. I wonder if I am alone.
 
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There are high incomes and their are stable incomes, but there are very few high stable incomes out there and that's why virtually everyone came into the field.
That the majority appreciate the coincidence that the thing we love doing offers a high and stable income is not the same thing as deciding to enter the field for that income and its stability.

This is a really off-putting statement and frankly insulting to many of your peers/mentors, especially in a non-trad forum. You have no basis for saying that it's "why virtually everyone came into the field." I came to medicine after another successful career, as did pretty much every real non-trad in my class . . . on our prior career paths, many of us were on a trajectory to make comparable money or in my case even exceed the pay of many practicing physicians around the same time we will now be finishing residency. But we were unhappy with our jobs. Your sense of what "virtually everyone" is thinking might be skewed by who you choose to be around, which is going to undoubtedly be influenced by your own personality & feelings on this issue. It doesn't give you credentials to generalize "virtually everyone."
 
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Because it's really hard work, and a long and expensive process?


Same reason I'd suggest to my kids to get a research masters and be a tech/staff scientist/research associate instead of getting a PhD.


I have this longing to do it, despite being "older", having kids, having a Masters' etc. But when I hear people say "if you'll be happier doing something else, do that instead".
I always appreciate your comments and specifically search for them whenever I am reading the boards, but I have to say this is the first time I disagree with something that you have typed.

My job title is one of those listed above and I can say - unless you enjoy being a data mule, glorified administrative assistant, project manager with none of the recognition or pay, with little to no intellectual input or deciding power, and all of the daunting stress, responsibility, LONG HOURS, in most cases a grant funded non-secure position, etc. then I cannot agree. At least as a PhD you can continuously work to better your situation, although however difficult in today's research funding climate, your future and the possibility of advancement is there and your fate is reasonably in your hands. As one of the positions above, you are slave to your PI, their funding, their success. For example, as a research associate, all you will ever be is a research associate. There are no positions that await you and your hard work at the top. You will never magically be eligible to be a PI of any study. Also if your PI's lab loses funding or the lab is shut down - see you later.

In my opinion, if you want to be a researcher, and have the drive, motivation, good questions, then the PhD > MS/MPH (which are being handed out like candy now). I see the MPH as becoming the MBA of the healthcare world. Everyone is encouraged to get one. The pay may not be much better for the PhD compared to the MS/MPH, but the job descriptions are.
 
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iceman55

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1. Why not Physicians Assistant? Two years and you're done, no residency, you can switch specialties on a whim, and you're doing practically whatever a doctor does. Plus, the payoff for a PA is much faster, and in the long-run probably better than an MD and certainly a DO starting at your age (30 y/o).
Good overall post.

I don't mean to derail the thread, but I feel like the above mainly applies to those that aspire to enter a primary care field where the actions of a PA vs the Doc don't differ as much.

Am not 100% sure but I don't think PAs in surgical fields are doing practically whatever the surgeon is doing. But am sure they play a vital role in every operation.
 

Quik

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Good overall post.

I don't mean to derail the thread, but I feel like the above mainly applies to those that aspire to enter a primary care field where the actions of a PA vs the Doc don't differ as much.

Am not 100% sure but I don't think PAs in surgical fields are doing practically whatever the surgeon is doing. But am sure they play a vital role in every operation.
First of all, congrats on your acceptance!

I'm not 100% sure either, but this is the resounding statement I hear from PAs (my sister mainly) as well as many PAs to be. She, is in fact a primary care PA with a mostly absentee, psuedo retired MD. She has all but taken over the clinic and in no way feels limited in her work by being a PA. I however don't have much interest in primary care, while her work is demanding and rewarding to her, seeing 50 patients/day is not my ideal.

A mentor of mine, an orthopedic surgeon with his own practice asked me the same thing; Why not go PA? He mentioned he had just hired a PA right out of school paying her 100k/yr; 2 years and done... I told him the reasons cited above, and he was pumped on my answer and reasons, and gave me a good boost of confidence.
 

ruedjgtc

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Well then the vast majority of people who went to medical school must be pretty dumb then. There are high incomes and their are stable incomes, but there are very few high stable incomes out there and that's why virtually everyone came into the field. Whether or not that's why they stay is a different question. I remember when I first started and I told a guy I was going to med school and he said "aw, that's cheating." I didn't understand it at the time, but now I get it -- sometimes I just feel like a sellout. I wonder if I am alone.
When I told my old PI I'm applying for medical school instead of PhD programs his expression was very similar haha.
 

Quik

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When I told my old PI I'm applying for medical school instead of PhD programs his expression was very similar haha.
To many, the thought of returning to pursue an MD/DO well after undergrad and surfacing into a career (i.e. A true non-trad) is asinine. When evaluated only in economic terms, choosing an MD over another faster, higher paying profession, it very well may be. Most of us non-trads though, likely have very much in common, that we are not chasing it for the money (exclusively). Many of us may have found ourselves in other high-paying, prestigious professions and either the humanitarian impact or intellectual stimulation, or both, just wasn't enough.

Others though, are after money. A lawyer I roomed with when I had just returned to school w/ pre-reqs put it so bluntly, saying "I too was a non-trad pre-med, but after evaluating the payback, going to law school and becoming a lawyer had a much better bang for your buck." He also said "life is a game, and money is how you keep score." Needless to say, this guy was a royal dick.

The point is, if you're after money, there a many other quicker and surer ways to it. During a chat with one of my mentors, an MD ortho surgeon, he said, "You have to be prepared to endure many years living in poverty through med school. Even after, in your residency, you will barely scrape by." So, get used to being broke, for a long time, then one day, if the industry hasn't turned upside down, hopefully there will be a good living waiting for you at the light.
 

ruedjgtc

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The point is, if you're after money, there a many other quicker and surer ways to it. During a chat with one of my mentors, an MD ortho surgeon, he said, "You have to be prepared to endure many years living in poverty through med school. Even after, in your residency, you will barely scrape by." So, get used to being broke, for a long time, then one day, if the industry hasn't turned upside down, hopefully there will be a good living waiting for you at the light.
I think my PI was speaking more of escaping the underground dungeon of bench research and grant prostitution.

But with that said, I agree in general, the only reason why physicians are paid a lot is because of the years of training required, delayed gratification, and amount of responsibility/liability. There's a lot easier ways to strike it rich, like being a gigolo in Vegas.
 

NuttyEngDude

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To many, the thought of returning to pursue an MD/DO well after undergrad and surfacing into a career (i.e. A true non-trad) is asinine. When evaluated only in economic terms, choosing an MD over another faster, higher paying profession, it very well may be. Most of us non-trads though, likely have very much in common, that we are not chasing it for the money (exclusively). Many of us may have found ourselves in other high-paying, prestigious professions and either the humanitarian impact or intellectual stimulation, or both, just wasn't enough.

Others though, are after money. A lawyer I roomed with when I had just returned to school w/ pre-reqs put it so bluntly, saying "I too was a non-trad pre-med, but after evaluating the payback, going to law school and becoming a lawyer had a much better bang for your buck." He also said "life is a game, and money is how you keep score." Needless to say, this guy was a royal dick.

The point is, if you're after money, there a many other quicker and surer ways to it. During a chat with one of my mentors, an MD ortho surgeon, he said, "You have to be prepared to endure many years living in poverty through med school. Even after, in your residency, you will barely scrape by." So, get used to being broke, for a long time, then one day, if the industry hasn't turned upside down, hopefully there will be a good living waiting for you at the light.
Well said. I think when you know you're not in it for the money, you quickly grow tired of those who are. But such is life, you can not escape those that are either, in any profession. You can just hope there aren't too many of them around you.
 

yossarian444

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As you already know, being a physician is dealing with patients day in and out. With that being said, have you personally had any contact with patients? I'm an ER nurse and let me be the first to tell you, some patients can be very pleasant and grateful. Then there's those that come through the ER. I've seen a lot off "stuff" that you really have to be ready for as a physician, as I'm certain you're seeing your husband go through. Try telling a patient that their endless fatty diet is the reason why they have gallstones and they need to give that up...or that a blood sugar of <250 is not in any way shape or form better than yesterday's reading, it's still a bad reading and judging the amount of your insulin is not based on "how you feel"...or NPO after midnight for their procedure does not include sprite.

Now, I know nursing and physician are different yet symbiotic at the same time. But we deal with patients. And...as you already know, patient's don't listen to doctors. They barely listen to me, but that's because I've only repeated what the physician has said about 8 times and for some, that's still not enough.

I wish you all the best!!
I don't know. If my biggest problems were telling patients that their blood sugars were too high or that they need a better diet for their biliary colic, my job would be much better - for that is actual patient interaction - the very reason I became a doctor. ER nurses often don't realize just how little time we spend with patients compared to documenting/ordering in front of a computer. Sure, they see us clicking away, but what they don't see is the countless hours we spend after our shifts, finishing charts at home. All to make some stupid document that pretty much nobody reads (besides billers) unless we're going to get sued.

The same goes for people shadowing us in the ER. Sure, they may think shoving tubes into somebody's chest looks like fun, but they don't come home with us and see the boring, mindless charting we do. Much of the time being a doctor is just a glorified data entry position.

OP - is your husband one of the people saying "if you're happy doing anything else...."? If so, take him seriously.

Medicine is a long, exauhsting road. Looking in on the ouside, it seems like doctors are magnificent, captains of the healthcare team. Once inside, it's hard not feeling like just another cog in the healthcare machine that keeps marching along, knowingly ignorant to all its imperfections. As a resident, we're just one of a million other residents. We all go into medicine wanting to make a difference - all too often we don't. And when the opportunity does arise to make that difference, it sometimes slips by as we're instead too busy documenting.

I'm sure I'll be less jaded once done with residency. It's not all gloom I suppose. There are fun things about my job and there are times when I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. But...if there is anything else you'd like to do...consider doing it.