Work hours and personal life of a physician scientist/academic physician?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by shindotp, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. shindotp

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    Does the lower salary of a physician scientist/academic physician come with better work hours, control, and personal life?

    Anyone have any good links or know?
     
  2. Fencer

    Fencer MSTP Director
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    The amount of time that you work is about the same... about 60 hours per week (excluding on-call from home). However, during the non-clinical days/weeks, you earn flexibility to allocate your time as you wish. You still can make it to recitals, soccer games, etc.

    For the first 2-4 years, pay is about 60% of private practice, but improves to 70-80% later. NIH loan repayment is a great benefit for some.

    Bottomline, is that you wake up every day excited about doing stuff. No matter how you cut it, you still will be in the top 5% of US income.
     
  3. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I appreciate Fencer's response. I think the answer to your question is very specialty dependent.
     
  4. shindotp

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    Wow, 60 hours a week is really tough...

    That's 12 hours of work a day, meaning you leave home at 7 AM and come back at 8 PM (30 min lunch, 30 min travel) if you live nearby.
     
  5. StIGMA

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    Gee, I read 60 hours and thought "wow, that is extremely reasonable."

    But my PI probably rubs off on me... he is a PhD (so no extra clinical work), and he works probably 70 hours a week or so. Full professor and everything, makes his own schedule (not pushing for tenure).
     
  6. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I agree with this statement. I'm wondering if one feels this way whether that person should be in medicine or particularly research academic medicine at all. That seems to be a bare minimum to run a successful lab once established. Before this and during residency 60 hours is a laughable proposition to most, though again it's specialty dependent.

    In Radiology, pay is on the order of 1/3 private practice pay if you do a 80%/20% research/clinical gig--assuming you can even find such a position. The hours don't seem much different, though it seems you'll get much more vacation in private practice. Note that academic Radiology has a VERY hard time recruiting faculty. Similarly, the revenue the clinician can generate is very high, so departments seem very hesitant to give much chance at doing research. You'd have to be getting pretty big grants to even approach the revenue you can generate clinically, so why take the risk on a new faculty member from a financial perspective?
     
  7. shindotp

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    If you sleep 8 hours a day, 70 hours a week is 88% of your waking hours during the weekdays. Basically, the other 12% is eating and traveling.

    That's not reasonable at all.
     
  8. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    Keep up that sense of outrage my friend. If you can find a medicine (#1 for MD/PhDs), peds (#2), surg, OB/GYN, or several other residency types I'm forgetting that average less than 70 hours a week, you let me know. I consider it abusive and inhumane, but that culture is ingrained into medicine so far that even the residents have Stockholm Syndrome.

    Remember, the residency work hour limits were set to 80 hours a week recently. There's no whistleblower protection, and many programs, especially in surg, violate even those rules. Most IM and Peds programs I'm familiar with were always hovering around 80 hours/week on many services anyways. Just because you're an attending doesn't mean it gets better. You have some flexibility depending on the specialty, though I can find you some great posts on SDN about how that flexibility was tossed in the wastebin by trying to do research. Figure doing research is a full-time job on its own, and then you throw clinical work on top of that even. You could JUST pick clinical or research, which is what many do, and even then to get to something like 40 hours a week is rare and only once well established in the research world.

    :boom: <--- FLAMES INCOMING!
     
    #8 Neuronix, Jan 4, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  9. GliaGirl

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    OK, but what about something like emergency medicine? The weekly hours are MUCH less for clinical, so I don't understand why more people don't do EM and devote the extra time to research and/or having a life. I would like to combine EM with a research career looking at stroke or TBI or a similar emergency neurological condition. Am I deluded in thinking that this is an awesome combination??? (Given that I thrive in high stress situations and I am very good at thinking on my feet. I just need to get over the natural "ewwwwwww blood and guts" thing and I'll be fine for EM, I think...)

    This is all kind of mystifying. I know that there ARE women who have an MD/PhD and also have children, but I don't see how. Where is there time to have kids?!?!? I want to have a family, so maybe surrogacy is the answer!
     
  10. xanthines

    xanthines decaying organic matter
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    Does no one work on weekends? This makes your workhours/day more manageable.

    I also think 60-80 hrs/week is a lot, having done nearly 90hrs every 7 days in a previous life... :(

    -X
     
  11. sluox

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    I don't think it's as bad as it seems. 60 hrs a week includes all the "at home" work, like reading paper and writing. There are also lots of 2 hr lunch breaks, esp. in outpatient settings.

    All the researchers (one in particular is a young female PI @ Duke I met from a conference who just had two kids) I talked to work about 8-5 daily (this means physically at work, where you could be free to surf the internet) and then maybe 1 more day a week at home, which adds up to be about 55 hrs. The intensity of the "home work" is fairly minimal (I think).

    Although it is true that 40 hr a week, very regular schedule seems unrealistic in a cognitive specialty, unless you want to make 150k (or, less even) for the rest of your career.

    If you want to be REALLY REALLY good, like HHMI/multiple R01 superstar, I would imagine that you'd have to work really hard. But I have a VERY hard time imagining some podunk researcher at mid tier school is killing himself. And if I have to do that I'm going boutique.
     
    #11 sluox, Jan 5, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  12. RxnMan

    RxnMan Who, me? A doctor?
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    It's been done before. The career guidance and support isn't there like it is for IM, Peds, and Path. But there are a number of EM guys doing both basic science and/or clinical research. Look up Jeff Hollander at Penn for one, and both Pitt and Highland's EM programs have a number of researchers. Cincinnatti has a specific program in neurocritical care for EM residents.
     

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