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Wasteman

27 And Just Starting Undergrad At York

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Sup Bros,

 

I have some questions. I'm 27 and just starting my first under graduate degree(UG) at York University. Don't laugh, but it's a Fine arts degree and I'm excited to be starting this year. I'm planning to Major in Fine Arts and minor in either Physics or statistical Data management. I understand the process of becoming a doctor through lurking around this fine community and its southern,cruder, twice-removed, second-cousin studentdoctor.net.  

 

Recently I've been browsing the site and I've come across people mentioning fellowships and Second degrees during residency. My questions are

 

1. I want to be a neurosurgeon and given the difficulty in finding work, is a second degree and fellowship a necessity even with 14 years of tertiary education?

 

2. I've read quite a bit about others doing research. I personally find the prospect of doing research repulsive. Is this a necessity? Especially during residency? Can I do an 'either- or' thing and just do an extra year of fellowship instead?

 

3. If I HAVE to do an extra degree during residency, can I do a masters in fine arts, or maybe even a certificate in something else? Or does the degree have to be a science degree or somehow related to medicine? 

 

4. Volunteering/ Shadowing/ ECs. Ok so as most of you know, I'm a wasteman from a waste family, as the name implies. This means that even when living at home I'm going to have to keep a job to help with expenses and School fees. Even with cheap education costs in Canada, a year's tuition costs about half my yearly salary. I can probably find a job that pays more, but my current job is 15 mins away from home, and is a night time security job. So I have almost zero responsibility and alot of down time. 

 

This means that I won't have as much time to focus on volunteering. And If I do volunteer, it's probably going to be outside of the medical field (Big Brother mentorship). However, as for EC's, I'm on the board of a small art community, a frequent member of a small, down town Toronto art centre, and am a part-time student at a classical art Atelier. 

 

Based on the information above, do I seem like a viable candidate for Med School (given that I work hard and obtain a 3.9+ GPA and a strong MCAT)?

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There's a fair bit to unpack here, so I apologize if I miss something, but I'll try to answer what I can.

 

Second degrees, which usually mean second undergraduate degrees, typically aren't done after entering medical school or during residency. Graduate studies are often undertaken during or after residency, or during medical school.

 

1. The job market in Canada for Neurosurgery is very tight right now and trainees are doing anything they can to make themselves competitive. At the moment, pretty much without exception, that means doing a fellowship, usually multiple fellowships. Increasingly, that means doing graduate work, often a full PhD. It's pretty much necessary at this point in time from what I hear, since jobs in Neurosurgery are so hard to come by - while hospitals might be perfectly happy with a freshly-minted Neurosurgeon with what is typically 14 years tertiary education at that point, there's no incentive to take those applicants when they've got a dozen applicants with PhDs and multiple fellowships under their belts. If the job market in Neurosurgery improves, this may change in the future, but right now it's kind of where things stand.

 

2. Lots of people hate research with a passion, but it's hard to avoid entirely. It's at least marginally beneficial for getting into medical school and landing a desired residency (depending on specialty), though far from being required at either step. Residency programs often have a research component, or at least a quality improvement project. These aren't necessarily intensive projects, though presentation of the results at a conference is a common requirement. Research after residency is another matter. Practitioners at academic centers are often expected to be actively involved in research and for specialties that largely work in academic centers (like Neurosurgery), research might be harder to avoid if you want employment.

 

3. If you end up in a specialty where graduate work is expected for your desired employment, doing something with relevance to medicine would likely be necessary as well. Doing an MFA out of interest is fine, but not likely to matter much for career development, unless you somehow tie it into your specialty (art therapy maybe?)

 

4. Sounds like you have an interesting set of ECs already. Obviously continuing to build your ECs is worthwhile, so long as it makes sense for your schedule, but you don't seem behind in that regard. A good GPA should be your first priority, followed by a decent MCAT score.

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the neurosurgery thing is particular true for neurosurgery with its greater than normal delivery at academic hospitals.

 

should ask though - what part of research do you not like? Medical research is quite different than many other forms after all (being clinical in nature).

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im about to turn 25 in my "second" year at York, Im going part time myself. Also from London and probably have a similar extracurricular background in terms of the streets of london.

 

I was in a fine arts degree initially but I soon learn that to put it politely it was a complete waste of time. If you want to be a neurosurgeon, why not major in something like psychology or biology. York is a good school for both and with all the psychoneurological research that goes on with the MRI machines and such it would probably be a good place to start. You can always minor in fine arts if your really have an interest.

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Hey Thanks for the replies guys. 

 

rmorelan: I'm an undergrad. Outside of lotto winning luck, I doubt that anything I do in a research lab as an undergrad would be substantial or beneficial to anyone not directly connected to the research. I don't mind doing busy work as much as the next guy, but as long as the purpose of the research isn't immediately clear to me, I'd rather roll a rock uphill from sun up to sun down. At least this way I can get a pretty sick beach bod and a nice tan. 

 

elchristo: WASTMEN UNITE! But in all serious, Yeah I hear you, and I've considered studying a science degree, but art seems so much more interesting to me. Besides, I've heard through magic that most of the information we learn in under grad is not particularly applicable to what we learn in Med school, besides the fundamentals, of course.

 

Ralk: I appreciate you taking the time to write such a long response. Regarding the job market for neurosurgery, what about working somewhere out in the boondocks? I know that most people aren't too keen on the idea of moving away from southern Canada since it's like America, but better. On the other hand, I AM willing to move far North. Probably even Iqaluit if I can get work that far north. Do you think that might help my case?

 

There we go! Clinical research post-residency, or even during residency, now THAT sounds interesting to me. I wouldn't mind doing something like that. I'm just not up for mindlessly running PCRs when I can either be using that time to study or out using my new-found doctor status to pick up chicks or/and get away with murder.

 

As for a secondary degree during residency, if I minor in Physics during my undergrad, can I do a Post grad degree in the field? What about if I study data science? Can I do that? Also I've heard that master's degrees generally take two years. So how would I be able to do that during my residency?

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In most specialties, willingness to relocate is a big advantage to securing a job. Neurosurgery might be the exception to that rule though - even in remote areas, the job market sounds pretty terrible.

 

In terms of graduate work during or after residency, there really aren't restrictions on what you're allowed to do, it's all whether the content of that degree will make you more attractive on the job market. Physics-related studies and data science certainly could be helpful depending on your specialty and the specifics of your work during those degrees. Graduate work done during residency often takes on a longitudinal approach, where you complete the degree while also doing your clinical work. That can involve taking time off from clinical work to do dedicated research, particularly when doing a PhD, which would generally extend the amount of time spent in residency. For physician's in not always so simple as taking two years off to do a Master's as would typically happen straight out of undergrad.

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Thanks again for the reply ralk. How do you happen to know so much about doing a post graduate degree during residency and the job market for Neurosurgery? Are you a neurosurgeon? Did you do a post graduate degree during residency? If so, what was that like? Did it make residency much more troublesome for you?

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In most specialties, willingness to relocate is a big advantage to securing a job. Neurosurgery might be the exception to that rule though - even in remote areas, the job market sounds pretty terrible.

 

In terms of graduate work during or after residency, there really aren't restrictions on what you're allowed to do, it's all whether the content of that degree will make you more attractive on the job market. Physics-related studies and data science certainly could be helpful depending on your specialty and the specifics of your work during those degrees. Graduate work done during residency often takes on a longitudinal approach, where you complete the degree while also doing your clinical work. That can involve taking time off from clinical work to do dedicated research, particularly when doing a PhD, which would generally extend the amount of time spent in residency. For physician's in not always so simple as taking two years off to do a Master's as would typically happen straight out of undergrad.

 

true - although there is also often also a dedicated year or so towards it in many programs - neuro surg is one of those fields. Several of the neuro surg people at Ottawa for instance are or have gone for various graduate degrees with solid one years off to go towards it.

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Thanks again for the reply ralk. How do you happen to know so much about doing a post graduate degree during residency and the job market for Neurosurgery? Are you a neurosurgeon? Did you do a post graduate degree during residency? If so, what was that like? Did it make residency much more troublesome for you?

 

Not a Neurosurgeon, just a third year medical student (and not one interested in Neurosurgery). I'm just passing along what I hear from others and from what's been reported about the job market - students at my stage hunt for just about every piece of information about specialties we can get!

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true - although there is also often also a dedicated year or so towards it in many programs - neuro surg is one of those fields. Several of the neuro surg people at Ottawa for instance are or have gone for various graduate degrees with solid one years off to go towards it.

 

Oh absolutely, and many programs I've talked to without a dedicated year are often willing to work with residents to allow for appropriate graduate studies without extending their total residency time by as much as it would normally take to complete the degree.

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Not a Neurosurgeon, just a third year medical student (and not one interested in Neurosurgery). I'm just passing along what I hear from others and from what's been reported about the job market - students at my stage hunt for just about every piece of information about specialties we can get!

 

hehehehe that is what residents do for fellowships. Process never seems to end :)

 

interventional neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons work closely at most centres - not exactly happy times for either field.

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Hey Thanks for the replies guys. 

 

rmorelan: I'm an undergrad. Outside of lotto winning luck, I doubt that anything I do in a research lab as an undergrad would be substantial or beneficial to anyone not directly connected to the research. I don't mind doing busy work as much as the next guy, but as long as the purpose of the research isn't immediately clear to me, I'd rather roll a rock uphill from sun up to sun down. At least this way I can get a pretty sick beach bod and a nice tan. 

 

elchristo: WASTMEN UNITE! But in all serious, Yeah I hear you, and I've considered studying a science degree, but art seems so much more interesting to me. Besides, I've heard through magic that most of the information we learn in under grad is not particularly applicable to what we learn in Med school, besides the fundamentals, of course.

 

Ralk: I appreciate you taking the time to write such a long response. Regarding the job market for neurosurgery, what about working somewhere out in the boondocks? I know that most people aren't too keen on the idea of moving away from southern Canada since it's like America, but better. On the other hand, I AM willing to move far North. Probably even Iqaluit if I can get work that far north. Do you think that might help my case?

 

There we go! Clinical research post-residency, or even during residency, now THAT sounds interesting to me. I wouldn't mind doing something like that. I'm just not up for mindlessly running PCRs when I can either be using that time to study or out using my new-found doctor status to pick up chicks or/and get away with murder.

 

As for a secondary degree during residency, if I minor in Physics during my undergrad, can I do a Post grad degree in the field? What about if I study data science? Can I do that? Also I've heard that master's degrees generally take two years. So how would I be able to do that during my residency?

 

You don't need lotto luck to do meaningful research in undergrad. It does require picking the right project and putting in a lot of work.  Though I think it's more useful to be doing research in residency or after for all the reasons mentioned above.  

 

A science undergrad is actually quite useful in the pre-clinical years in med school.  Med school classes proceed about 4 times faster than undergrad.  it's a lot of information to learn in a very short period of time and having a background makes the learning way easier.  

 

About neurosurgery, based on what I hear from my classmate, who worked as an neurosurgery OR nurse for years before med, the job market is very tough.  She's seen many residents take on multiple fellowships and still leaving the institution without a job.  Going to the boondocks may help, but you may run in to the problem of not having enough cases to maintain a practice for a neurosurgeon, not having a team skilled enough to assist.

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I've heard that in particular specialties the job market is tough partially due to the fact that many physicians are delaying retirement. Is this true and if so, do you think neurosurgery is one of those fields? According to information obtained by CMA, 51 out of 299 neurosurgeons are 65 and older. Additionally 63 are 55-64. Thus from what it seems 114 out of 299 (38%) of neurosurgeons should be expected to retire within the next 10 or so years. Would it be correct to assume this could result in a relatively favorable job market in 10 years or so (this would apply to me) or are there other significant factors which I'm not considering (I understand healthcare funding for the number of positions could have an impact but I'm assuming that this stays constant, significantly at least)?

 

Source: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/neurosurgery-e.pdf#search=neurosurgery 

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I've heard that in particular specialties the job market is tough partially due to the fact that many physicians are delaying retirement. Is this true and if so, do you think neurosurgery is one of those fields? According to information obtained by CMA, 51 out of 299 neurosurgeons are 65 and older. Additionally 63 are 55-64. Thus from what it seems 114 out of 299 (38%) of neurosurgeons should be expected to retire within the next 10 or so years. Would it be correct to assume this could result in a relatively favorable job market in 10 years or so (this would apply to me) or are there other significant factors which I'm not considering (I understand healthcare funding for the number of positions could have an impact but I'm assuming that this stays constant, significantly at least)?

 

Source: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/neurosurgery-e.pdf#search=neurosurgery 

 

Physicians do seem to be delaying retirement, but that doesn't mean we're about to see a rush of job opportunities. For one, those physicians can just continue on without retiring, which many seem to do. Sure, there's a large cohort of 55-64 year olds in Neurosurgey, but when only 2 of them retire in a 3 year period (and only 6 Neurosurgeons over 65 in that same frame), it doesn't exactly inspire confidence that a whole crew are about ready to jump ship. Those who are 65+ will have to retire at some point (or pass away), but even then the numbers are pretty bleak. Let's say 20% of all 65+ Neurosurgeons will retire each year for the next 5 years, which would be a major increase over the current rate. There'd still be more new grads than vacated positions each year.

 

More importantly, there's a backlog in the system. With so many underemployed Neurosurgeons or individuals leaving the country due to the poor job market, even if new jobs opened up, they wouldn't be available to freshly-graduated residents. Rather, they'd go to those Neurosurgeons slogging through their 4th fellowship. Eventually, if the number of jobs exceeded the number of graduates, the amount of post-residency training necessary would start to decline, but it would likely be a slow process.

 

Granted, anything can happen in 10 years - maybe there'll be a new procedure that drives up demand for Neurosurgeons, or funding models will change dramatically, or a Neurosurgery conference will experience a natural disaster that cripples dozens of currently practicing surgeons. However, based on the current situation and probable trends moving forward, I don't see the situation in Neurosurgery being likely to improve significantly, even 10 years out from now.

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Thanks guys. This seems pretty bleak. I didn't know that neurosurgery is such an old-boys club. Damn. I might really have to move up north and start doing surgery in igloos. I wonder what that's going to be like.   Oh well. I'm still going to go through with it. Even if I don't get full time work in Canada I know there are communities that are in need of Highly specialized professionals.  I guess maybe I could just be a stand up comedian that practices brain surgery on the side.

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Thanks guys. This seems pretty bleak. I didn't know that neurosurgery is such an old-boys club. Damn. I might really have to move up north and start doing surgery in igloos. I wonder what that's going to be like.   Oh well. I'm still going to go through with it. Even if I don't get full time work in Canada I know there are communities that are in need of Highly specialized professionals.  I guess maybe I could just be a stand up comedian that practices brain surgery on the side.

 

 

Something to consider is that you will need the resources to be able to accomplish this: anaesthesia, ICU/neurosurg step-down units, etc.

 

In this current market, the more you specialize, the more you can potentially pigeon-hole yourself, the harder it is to find work. Especially in surgery. This is what has happened to my spouse and it's incredibly frustrating and stressful.

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Hey Thanks for the replies guys. 

 

rmorelan: I'm an undergrad. Outside of lotto winning luck, I doubt that anything I do in a research lab as an undergrad would be substantial or beneficial to anyone not directly connected to the research. I don't mind doing busy work as much as the next guy, but as long as the purpose of the research isn't immediately clear to me, I'd rather roll a rock uphill from sun up to sun down. At least this way I can get a pretty sick beach bod and a nice tan. 

 

elchristo: WASTMEN UNITE! But in all serious, Yeah I hear you, and I've considered studying a science degree, but art seems so much more interesting to me. Besides, I've heard through magic that most of the information we learn in under grad is not particularly applicable to what we learn in Med school, besides the fundamentals, of course.

 

Ralk: I appreciate you taking the time to write such a long response. Regarding the job market for neurosurgery, what about working somewhere out in the boondocks? I know that most people aren't too keen on the idea of moving away from southern Canada since it's like America, but better. On the other hand, I AM willing to move far North. Probably even Iqaluit if I can get work that far north. Do you think that might help my case?

 

There we go! Clinical research post-residency, or even during residency, now THAT sounds interesting to me. I wouldn't mind doing something like that. I'm just not up for mindlessly running PCRs when I can either be using that time to study or out using my new-found doctor status to pick up chicks or/and get away with murder.

 

As for a secondary degree during residency, if I minor in Physics during my undergrad, can I do a Post grad degree in the field? What about if I study data science? Can I do that? Also I've heard that master's degrees generally take two years. So how would I be able to do that during my residency?

 

 

Hey! I only read the thread up until this post, so apologies if this has been mentioned, but there is no work for some specialities in the North. For example, neuro seems to be concentrated in provinces with the largest urban areas in Canada: Quebec, Ontario, and BC. Here's a link to the CMA description of Neurosurgery, and it says there are 0 neurosurgeons in the Territories :https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/neurosurgery-e.pdf

I'm not trying to kill your ambition, but wanted to share the profile on your specialty of choice. The CMA has a profile like this for all specialties which are interesting to read. 

 

EDIT: I see neurophilic posted the link already, but for different purposes.

Edited by gonads

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elchristo: WASTMEN UNITE! But in all serious, Yeah I hear you, and I've considered studying a science degree, but art seems so much more interesting to me. Besides, I've heard through magic that most of the information we learn in under grad is not particularly applicable to what we learn in Med school, besides the fundamentals, of course.

 

Science isn't just information. It's a method to the madness which we call evidence-based medicine, and it's a way of thinking that can help you understand the limitations and truths of current scientific knowledge. Having a solid foundation in physiology, neuroscience, biochemistry, pharmacology, or other fields in the health sciences is less about memorizing the lecture material, and more about being able to approach clinical and basic sciences research with a critical eye and an open mind. Also, I might be biased, coming from a Physiology background.

 

Btw, not saying that a science degree is a better choice than an arts degree; just wanted to clarify a possible misunderstanding.

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