Why do people try to dissuade you from going to med school?

LilyMD

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Everyone thinks I'm absolutely insane for wanting to go to med school. I should mention that I have am currently in a career that pays very nicely, however, I hate every second of my 80 hour workweek. Most med students and residents say "don't do it." They say they would not do it over again, but when I ask them what they would do, they can't really come up with anything. I heard a theory that residents/med students love to complain. They say smart people always complain. I don't see how that makes sense. Why would people just love to complain? Now, the practicing doctors are different - they said it's hard, we get sued, but do it if you love it. It's kind of hard to know if you love it before you're there (even with clinical experience/EC). I thought I would love my first career and I even had some exposure to it before. I know no one can tell you what to do with your life. But these warnings/doubts echo in my head bc people tried to dissuade from my first career path and I didn't listen. I ignored them bc I thought I would be different. I thought that they went into for the wrong reasons and that's why they're dissatisfied. And here I am, two years into it and hating it , discouraging young hopefuls where I once stood from taking that path. Does anyone have any insight into this phenomenon? How do you deal with the discouragement/negativity? I want to heed the advice of those who have been there, but I also want to make the right decision for me.
 
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Ignore it all. That's how I deal with it. Everyone responds to stress differently and if you know you can be happy as a medical student then go for it.
 

Rose122

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First of all, this is a very difficult question to address because you have raised so many different issues. However, it's tough to say that "everyone" attempts to disuade people from entering the profession. In my experience there's a dichotomy: those you've identified and others who think this is the most exciting time in medicince because current research is providing better and more effective treatments, ethics and sociology are being integrated into curriculums, etc.

The effort may not be "worth it" for some for several reasons. It is an outright travesty that that some elder docs are forced into early retirement because of rising malpractice insurance costs or elsedip into the their retirement account to maintain the practice that they cherish. Also, to see other professions compensated much higher than medicine, where death and disease aren't constantly in your face, is not an easy issue for some to deal with. Finally, some may just not have been cut out for medicine and may feel obligated to remain in practice because of debt, pride, stubborness, etc.

As for smart people just "complaining" a lot, I'm not sure what to think. Doctors are in some way unique, not too dissimilar to tenured professors, in that they are somewhat automous self managers and, consequently ineligible for collective barganing. Therefore, this may be a privilidge of the profession unlike others where accountability may be more important to promotion. Or they may just complain because they are proactive in their endeavors and there are legitimate reasons for them to.
 
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tBw

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Originally posted by LilyMD
Everyone thinks I'm absolutely insane for wanting to go to med school.

Everyone always thinks they can run your life better than you can. This is regardless of whether they appear to be running their life very well or not...

Originally posted by LilyMD
I should mention that I have am currently in a career that pays very nicely,

People seem to be especially suspicious of any change that involves loss-of-income or status. By giving up your current well-paid career (law??) and going into medicine you will be abandoning that which we are all told to aspire to, and breaking the cookie-cutter life-pathway we have all been led to follow. Instinctively it will seem wrong to them no matter what you say. On some levels it probably seems 'wrong' to you too.

Originally posted by LilyMD

however, I hate every second of my 80 hour workweek.

In which case you need to change whether that is to medicine or to something else, but you shouldn't go through life hating every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of an 80 hour week for months, years, decades of your life. That's a lot of hated seconds ;)
In which case the first question "should I change" is answered, and all you really need to ask people who tell you medicine is wrong is "so what should I do?" Clearly in this instance staying doing what you are doing is not an acceptable answer. At least posed this way maybe they will consider whether they think you should just not make a change (in which case they are wrong...) or whether, for some reason, they just think medicine is a bad idea (in which case who knows, as I don't know you..). But if it's the latter they need to explain why.

Originally posted by LilyMD

Most med students and residents say "don't do it." They say they would not do it over again, but when I ask them what they would do, they can't really come up with anything.
Most med students and residents went there straight from school and think the only hard thing is medicine. They have a completely different life-experience from you. If they hate it that much, and yet are still doing it then (a) they made bad career choices for themselves and (b) are following through regardless. (see points one and two above!). In which case should you be listening to them? Maybe they should be listening to *you* and changing what *they* are doing!

Originally posted by LilyMD
I heard a theory that residents/med students love to complain. They say smart people always complain. I don't see how that makes sense. Why would people just love to complain?

Don't you enjoy a good moan/rant once in a while just to get things out of your system? I know I do ;) However, if it's excessive then they are probably just unhappy people. Some people are happy regardless, some are miserable no-matter-what.

Originally posted by LilyMD
Now, the practicing doctors are different - they said it's hard, we get sued, but do it if you love it. It's kind of hard to know if you love it before you're there (even with clinical experience/EC).

That's true of everything. So matter what change you choose to make you will never know until you take that leap of faith. The problem with medicine is not in the not knowing but the additional school debts if you find out you were wrong.

Originally posted by LilyMD
I thought I would love my first career and I even had some exposure to it before. I know no one can tell you what to do with your life. But these warnings/doubts echo in my head bc people tried to dissuade from my first career path and I didn't listen. I ignored them bc I thought I would be different. I thought that they went into for the wrong reasons and that's why they're dissatisfied. And here I am, two years into it and hating it , discouraging young hopefuls where I once stood from taking that path. Does anyone have any insight into this phenomenon? How do you deal with the discouragement/negativity? I want to heed the advice of those who have been there, but I also want to make the right decision for me.

Well thats the problem. If you were more certain it wouldn't matter what other people say. As you're clearly *already* older what is one more year going to make a difference? I would seriously consider getting a job say in a clinical research trial or some other intimate health-care setting with a doctor to get a closer look at what day-to-day life can be like. Of course lifestyle, duties etc vary dependent on your end goal - rural vs urban, academic vs private, primary care vs specialty etc, but you only really have a couple of choices - decide medicine is right and go for it now, decide you are unsure and are willing to committ some time to investigate medicine more before making the committment to 4 more years med school, etc etc, or change and just do something else entirely...but as everyone else makes no better jb of their own lives I wouldn't worry too much about what they think of what you are doing with yours...and I would certainly beware the nay-sayers who just look at what they perceive you to have (money, security, status) and not what you want (not to hate your daily life...)

I doubt that helped but hey, I tried ;)
 

celticmists18

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I wouldn't worry about the med students and the residents, stress=complaining (have to say I'm guilty of that too). My dad, who is a doctor, spent a lot of time telling me about the negative parts of medicine. Eventually I got fed-up and told him to either get on board or get out of the way . . . he then explained that he was just trying to make sure I knew what I was getting into. Maybe that accounts for some of what you are getting. People might always be saying those things because they would be too frighten to leave something stable and successful for something extremely stressful, challenging and definitely not stable. In any case, good for you for going ahead despite all the "negative" feedback you are getting!
 

LilyMD

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Rose, you're right my post did raise a lot of issues...and I actually deleted a whole paragraph from it. I didn't mean to say that EVERYONE dissuades people from going into medicine - I'm just saying that there is a lot of negativity I've experienced from it. Also, Rose, I know you were answering my question and just giving me the reasons why people might try to dissuade hopeful M.D.s and you're right those are a lot of the reasons given. But I really want to hear opinions from those who have been there, but logically and realistically, I just don't buy most of the reasons and so I don't know how much weight to place on it.

Originally posted by Rose122
The effort may not be "worth it" for some for several reasons. It is an outright travesty that that some elder docs are forced into early retirement because of rising malpractice insurance costs or elsedip into the their retirement account to maintain the practice that they cherish.
In Florida, there was a recent legislation passed regarding capping jury awards. Frankly, I think the smarter thing would've been to cap insurance premiums. In any event, a big argument on the side of physician lobbyists was that jury awards and the ensuing insurance premiums were forcing doctors out of the professions and many were threatening to close up shop. I'm sorry I just don't believe it. I heard a lot of my doctors complain about lawyers, lawsuits and insurance premiums but I just don't see the mass exodus happening. In any event, just as doctors and hospitals have been forced to be more accountable and compensate for medical mistakes, the system will evolve to keep the insurance companies from reaping the profits of this new accountability. I don't know when but it has to happen.

Originally posted by Rose122
Also, to see other professions compensated much higher than medicine, where death and disease aren't constantly in your face, is not an easy issue for some to deal with. Finally, some may just not have been cut out for medicine and may feel obligated to remain in practice because of debt, pride, stubborness, etc.
I know the traditional med student/doctor goes to med school straight out of college and doesn't really hold another professional job. But I have...and I can tell you that it is not the easy money that is perceived. I work at a large law firm where lawyers can typically make the most money and they work very hard and long hours on the most unfulfilling type of work. We make more than an MD in residency/fellowship but after training almost all M.D.s can look forward to exceeding the lawyer's pay and remaining at the level consistently, which is not true for lawyers. The opportunity to make partner is very limited and most lawyers even in the most prestigious law firms begin to leave or asked to leave in 3rd year and will see a significant drop in their salary. And if you're not at a large law firm, you can look to make anywhere between $30k (if you work for a worthy cause) and 60k for run of the mill legal work. Let's not even talk about MBA's - I know many Wharton and Harvard grads are currently looking for work after several lay-offs. There is no security in that industry and they work long hours as well. I suppose someone can start your own business and make a lot of money, but many people lose their shirt this way. As far as death and disease being in your face, presumably that's the reason most people go into medicine it shouldn't be a surprise to deal with sick people.

Originally posted by Rose122
As for smart people just "complaining" a lot, I'm not sure what to think. Doctors are in some way unique, not too dissimilar to tenured professors, in that they are somewhat automous self managers and, consequently ineligible for collective barganing. Therefore, this may be a privilidge of the profession unlike others where accountability may be more important to promotion. Or they may just complain because they are proactive in their endeavors and there are legitimate reasons for them to.
Again, most lawyers, investment bankers, stockbrokers, and other professionals are not entitled to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is largely for the working class - bus drivers, airline personnel, etc. For the most part, these are NOT alternative careers for someone who is driven to go through the whole process of med school and beyond. Not to disrepect worker subject to collective bargaining, but just to say that it's a big leap to go from wanting to be a doctor to wanting to be an airline reservationist...different types of people.
 

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Lily -
I've been going through a similar sort of situation. I think the biggest thing for you can do to deal with your uncertainties that you will make a similar mistake by changing careers into medicine, is to figure out exactly what it is about your current job you dislike and are unsatisfied by. If you believe those things can be met in a career in medicine, you are on the right road.
 

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Hello,

I understand your situation very well. I graduated from law school and then one week later started my post-bacc courses. I decided to leave law as a third year in law school and everyone dissuaded me from doing it. My parents still don't support me and think I'm insane. Everyone who hears my career plans pretty much thinks I'm insane as well--because they think, "why would you give up a J.D. and a well-paying job to start from the bottom all over again?" And yes, I can see their point in some ways but they don't understand how much I hated law and could never see myself practicing law.

Many people seem content to be stuck in jobs they hate because they feel it's the mature thing to do--to just suck it up and deal. I could not bear to live my life like that--just settling for a career because it happens to be convenient. It's true that while most of my lawyer peers are living the good life and making lots of $ I'll still be a lowly student at the bottom of the totom-pole, but at least I'll be building the foundations of a career that I know I'll love for the rest of my life.

You just have to ignore all the nay-sayers and those who doubt your judgment. I'm doing it, and while of course it would be nice for everyone you talk to to be supportive, in most instances this is just not the case.

Good luck!

Tofurkey
 

darkcity998

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Just avoid negativity. Hey, I also left my law job and refused a free ride to law school. My family, doctor friends, business friends - everyone thought I was crazy too. Despite all their discouraging comments, now that I got accepted to medical school, they're all happy for me. It's the weirdest thing, a complete turnaround. I guess if you're persistent and competent enough and have a sincere reason for getting into medicine, then things will work out for you.

If residents or experienced doctors dissuade you from medicine, it may be that they chose the wrong specialty. They don't know about all areas of medicine. So who are they to dissuade you from pursuing your career goals? Only you know your own values, talents and skills.
 

tBw

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Originally posted by tBw
By giving up your current well-paid career (law??)

Originally posted by LilyMD
I work at a large law firm where lawyers can typically make the most money and they work very hard and long hours on the most unfulfilling type of work.

who ever said I didn't have insight ;)
 

matthew45

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I 2nd celticmist's comment. The docs in my family just wanted to make sure I understood med school and life as an MD was not a cakewalk and that if I just wanted to make money to get a MBA or an engineering degree. Once they realized I was serious, they were all in for me.

Matt
 

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ive never told anyone not to go into medicine (as a matter of fact, i try and give back by giving my sage advice to most premeds that ask), but i LOVE to mess around with premeds whose priorities seem to be money/power/prestige. ie, when the first question out of someones mouth is "am i still going to be able to make over $200K/yr as a radiologist?"
 

LilyMD

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Originally posted by Tofurkey
Everyone who hears my career plans pretty much thinks I'm insane as well--because they think, "why would you give up a J.D. and a well-paying job to start from the bottom all over again?"
I've heard this reasoning from residents. People think that bc I've been "successful" in the legal world and that I'll be older than my peers - I'll have a difficult time adjusting to be in school again and the condescending treatment you can get during residency. They've obviously never worked in a large law firm. There is nothing respectful about the way they treat junior or even senior associates. It is very much a hazing process. My time is their time and one phone call literally ruin my weekend, vacation, or in some cases honeymoon. It's not unusual for an associate to be given little to no time to go to a close relatives funeral or are forced to return early/cancel a pre-paid/planned vacation. I'm not saying medicine is any easier. I'm just saying that there is not much respect in being a lowly associate - not to mention that residency is of a finite duration whereas the law firm hazing can go on indefinitely.

Originally posted by Tofurkey
It's true that while most of my lawyer peers are living the good life and making lots of $ I'll still be a lowly student at the bottom of the totom-pole, but at least I'll be building the foundations of a career that I know I'll love for the rest of my life.
I'd agree that most lawyers who work in large law firms mayke lots of $$$ - they are not living a good life. Unless you consider a good life shuffling papers for 80 hours a week and getting yelled at from time to time for not catching someone else's mistake.

TbW, good call on my career...is it that obvious? I got shake this attorney/lawyer talk out of me. But I don't know if you deserve the credit, I think you just read another one of my posts.
 
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LilyMD

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Tofurkey, you must have heard quite a bit of negativity/doubts - you went into it before you had even practiced law. I've been practicing for 2 years and I still get the "but you haven't given it a chance" or "you need to try a different firm, different practice, different city, etc." It's so frustrating bc when is it enough??? 5 years? 10 years? What will I know then that I don't know now? The only difference would be that in 5 years I will have wasted away for a longer period at a job I don't like and that perhaps I'll other considerations (family, standard of living) that can tie me down to this hateful job.
 

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I think most people don't do what their hearts tell them because they haven't the courage. We are in a minority for doing this, and I think that irritates a lot of the people out there who are hiding from their passions, so they try to be discouraging - as they say, misery loves company.
 

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One reason is that the idea of practicing medicine is definitely MUCH better than the actual practice of medicine. It is difficult to describe all the details, but lets just say it is a lot different than any pre-med can get exposed to. Even with that, most people agree that despite their complaints and disappointments, it is much more interesting and preferable to office work.

I think one of the reasons people often say this sort of thing is to make sure that you know about these negative aspects and that you realize your idealized view is not necessarily accurate. When I give people advice not to attend, it is usually with the intention that if they really feel that they could not be happier in any other profession, this will not disuade them from attending but may soften the blow when they really get there and realize how bad it can get at times. If I tell someone this and they are already not committed, I hope that they choose another field since these people are the ones that will most likely be not happy with their choice.

Its kind of like the advice given about choosing surgery as a career. Only go into surgery if you cannot picture yourself doing anything else, otherwise residency and practice will eat you alive. Only go into medicine if you cannot picture yourself doing anythiing else.
 

Tofurkey

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Hi Lily,

Yes, I have gotten the "you haven't given it a chance" speech many times. Well, in a way it's true because I started my post-bacc courses one week after graduating from law school. I feel, however, that I gave it enough of a chance--enduring my three years of law school and summer legal jobs was enough. Besides, think about the fact that med students choose their specialty after having only rotated through it (or sometimes not at all) for a short period of time--6 weeks or whatever. I think everyone has their own definitions of what "giving it a chance" means.

My parents are so embarassed of my choice to ditch law that they refuse to tell the rest of the family that I am enrolled in a post-bacc program. They just say that I am doing something else--I'm not sure what. I hope your family is supportive of you, because it is unpleasant when your own parents think you're a disgrace just because you're doing what the above poster mentioned and doing what your passion is instead of the easier, more pre-determined course.

I wish I had never gone to law school--I regret it very much but I'm 100% sure I'm on the right path now.

The law sucks big time. Law firms seem like a horrible, stifling place to work.

Thanks,

Tofurkey
 

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I have been working as a civil engineer for 2 years and hated every second of my job. I want to change my career but didnt know what to. The only difference between you and me is that most everyone told me to go into medicine, I was the skeptical one. I have already been accepted and will be attending med school this august, however, I still have a little trepidation.

Here is how I justify becoming a Doctor, you and I both have had enough time to really give our careers a chance, only to find out they suck. We are too old to blindly go back to school to find our "dream field" again, besides it didnt work the first time. Medicine is a broad field, there are the passionate individuals (like my sister who was the only one to try to persuade me not to go to medical school, she will be in the class above me) and there are the people who are just in it for the money as well as the people who are in it because they dont have any clue what else to do with their biology degree. That being said, Im going into medicine somewhat blindly knowing that I will find something I like to do. If I dont want to work with patients, I'll do radiology; if I am only worried about the money, i'll do plastic surgery. If I dont even want to practice at all, I'll work for a law firm or medical consulting company. I can really see myself doing wilderness medicine because of the lifestyle of doing things outdoors and working with people who share my same interests.

You should quite your job and go into medicine if it intrigues you and you think you can find something to make you happy. Sure, there are other fields that you would probably enjoy to, but life is to short to try everything. Medicine is a safe bet: good pay, job stability, and you can do some many things in it.

At my age I dont have the time to search out my dream job, I have to many interests and, frankly, there are many things I could do that would make me happy. Be practical about your choice to go into medicine, do you like the field? do like science? do you like working with people? do like helping people overcome problems? If that is a yes, then you should become a doctor.
 

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Most people like medical school because they don't know what they want to do. If you spend all your time with your head in a book, you don't have time to think about the issues that are really concerning you. Most use school as an escape. God I hate psychological babble but I think for most people this is the case. I want to do it so I want think about cynical thoughts all the time. What's your excuse?
 

LilyMD

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Originally posted by doctorcynical
Anyone posting on this thread should really consider a different profession.

Didn't you just post on the thread? Nobody tried to dissuade you or say anything negative about the field? If they didn't, they should have because your attitude makes me sure that you will be one of those who will LOVE to complain about medicine, but will never leave. Do you say this because you perceive anyone who would consider or think about what current people in the profession say are weaker or less determined? I think the biggest mistake someone can make is to completely ignored what those in the know say. Obviously, you need to be able to weed out people who are just negative and cynical and somehow think they are above it all - those people will never be happy no matter what they do. But you should listen and try to understand what they're saying and why - that way you can make an educated guess of if it will apply to you and whether it will stand in the way of your own personal fulfillment. I often try to dissuade young hopeful lawyers but only the ones who want to "help people" - but if someone has business-related interests and wants to do transactional work or even commercial/corporate litigation then I would say that they could find success and happiness in law. I say this because I know and I see the people who are happy and the people who are not.
 

LilyMD

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Dr.Cynical, You can't be serious? You realize that in law school you'll also have your head in a book for 3 years. I suppose you don't think the psychological profile you made up does not apply to you. I can tell you for a fact that most of the people who go to law school because they didn't get into medical school or didn't know what to do next are the ones who will hate it. There's nothing like spending 120k on an education and an 80 hour work-week on a fallback.
 

jlee9531

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ive met some med students that have this same sentiment as well. one an MS4 and another an MS1. Quite surprising to hear their views that if they had a chance to do it all over again they would. the ms4 told me that the only reason she isnt thinking about doing something else is that she is so far into the process that theres no turning back. with all that debt and leaving now? she said that was impossible to do. but if she had a chance to do it all over again, shed try a different profession. her bf who was also an ms4, was just loving every minute of med school tho and was just shaking his head when she was telling me her tales. i guess its just how you deal with the experience. some people hate the hours med students have to deal with and find it odd that residents will get a weekly cap and med students wont...
its just a lot of different things going on.

now about that florida thing you posted and how you said you didnt believe that doctors were closing up shop cause it was costing them too much...well unfortunately florida is ranked as one of the top ten states named by the aamc (i think) that needed to do something about the malpractice crisis going on there. it is a growing concern across the states and there are doctors that can no longer practice what they love because of it.
 

LilyMD

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Originally posted by jlee9531
now about that florida thing you posted and how you said you didnt believe that doctors were closing up shop cause it was costing them too much...well unfortunately florida is ranked as one of the top ten states named by the aamc (i think) that needed to do something about the malpractice crisis going on there. it is a growing concern across the states and there are doctors that can no longer practice what they love because of it.

The doctors got their way and the legislation was passed. I believe it was this past summer. In any event, I've heard it said that doctors can no longer practice, but I haven't seen anything other than those conclusory statements to prove it. There has not been a significant decrease/drop in physicians practicing in Florida. I'm not saying that things should remain this way...there is a crisis. I just don't think that jury awards should be capped because there will always be one case that comes along and merits more than the cap. Patients and their families should be entitled to some sort of recourse when patients die because of the medical mistakes. I don' t believe the the doctors should be blacklisted or have their license taken away (unless it is a repeated pattern of gross negligence), because everyone makes mistakes and quite often you not soley place the blame on the last actor (physician) because it truly is the result of the highly complex system. I think the public and juries should be educated about the realities of medical mistakes, which will require that hospitals and doctors being more forthcoming. Most are not willing to do this, for fear that they will get sued, but when it is understood that these things can happen in very good hospitals with very good doctors the outrage and the excessive jury awards will be curtailed. Still, someone died or was maimed and it certainly wasn't the patients the fault. The problem with the current tort system is the problem with the current managed health care system in my opinion - doctors often want to throw out the baby with the bath water - the problem with the tort system is not accountability and the problem with managed health care is not the managing health care costs - it's that the HMO's and insurance companies are reaping the benefits...instead of the savings and benefits being passed on the patients...the HMO's and insurance premiums now reap the benefits and profits that the physicans once held. It's really simple - doctors should not punished and their careers should not be tarnished for medical mistakes (although they should be noted and recompensed); patients should be compensated and not unduly saddled with the costs/pitfalls of medicine (medical mistakes, costs) - it should be shared by all; and benefits should not be misdirected to HMO's and insurance companies. If it's that simply why doesn't it change - for the same reason, they're is little accountability in corporate america and white collar crimes are pardoned and given a slap on the hand.
 

celticmists18

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please don't pay too much attention to doctotrcynical . . . his posts are hardly every relevent and seemed to always be aimed at starting an argument!
 

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Originally posted by LilyMD
Everyone thinks I'm absolutely insane for wanting to go to med school. I should mention that I have am currently in a career that pays very nicely, however, I hate every second of my 80 hour workweek. Most med students and residents say "don't do it." They say they would not do it over again, but when I ask them what they would do, they can't really come up with anything. I heard a theory that residents/med students love to complain. They say smart people always complain. I don't see how that makes sense. Why would people just love to complain? Now, the practicing doctors are different - they said it's hard, we get sued, but do it if you love it. It's kind of hard to know if you love it before you're there (even with clinical experience/EC). I thought I would love my first career and I even had some exposure to it before. I know no one can tell you what to do with your life. But these warnings/doubts echo in my head bc people tried to dissuade from my first career path and I didn't listen. I ignored them bc I thought I would be different. I thought that they went into for the wrong reasons and that's why they're dissatisfied. And here I am, two years into it and hating it , discouraging young hopefuls where I once stood from taking that path. Does anyone have any insight into this phenomenon? How do you deal with the discouragement/negativity? I want to heed the advice of those who have been there, but I also want to make the right decision for me.

i experienced a lot of this too when i was in premed. whenever i told anyone that i was in premed they would say, "wow that's really competitive" in a tone that suggested that i would get trampled. and these were my peers. they were taking the same classes as i was! then i always ran into students saying, "this test is going to be so hard. this class is going to be so hard....." and on and on about how hard things were going to be. this is one reason why i am looking forward to medical school. i would like to have classmates that have enough confidence to not worry about every test or class or at least are able to keep their anxiety under control.
on the other hand, some people do not really know themselves enough to know what they want. i had a friend who wanted to be a doctor, then a lawyer. it was obvious that both of these careers were ill-suited for her. but she didnt figure that out until she actually had a taste of what she was in for.
 

stwei

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I read that 70% of physicians are happy with their professions.
Has this changed? And if so why can a subspecialisation not help? Or even moving to a different health care system?
 
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