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Why do people want this so bad ?


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Hi

 

As a graduated doc I’ve often wondered why do people want this so bad? I’ve seen people on this forum risk spending upwards of 10 years trying to even get into medical school and it’s made me more and more curious why people want to go to medical school so badly. 

 

If you speak to current docs almost all will say not to consider medicine a great career anymore and usually try to dissuade people from applying. I have yet to see a graduated doc pushing others to enter medicine at all costs. 

 

Given the current landscape where so much has changed relative to even 10 years ago, why is the appeal still so strong? After all now:

 

a-consistent fighting with government, no contract for years (in ontario) and likely continued cuts. Probably a salary coming in future or cap

 

b- worsening tax savings by government 

 

c-lack of hospital based jobs in large GTA cities. People locuming for years 

 

d-less and less respect from public. More and more demands given rise of Dr. Google 

 

e-increasing lawsuits and complaints (ie - recent brain dead case)

 

f-harder and harder to get residency spots with increasing IMGs coming in

 

by the time most people that enter med school today come out the other end it will only get worse and worse. It’s not as great as it once was and if you ask most practicing docs very few are satisfied with their jobs or would recommend them to others. It’s still got its positives but the negatives continue to pile up versus just entering a high end engineering program for instance. Just visit any doctors Facebook group and see - they all seem to hate their jobs and current landscape more and more  

 

So I am curious - I understand applying after 4yrs. But why keep going for it at all costs? It just isnt that great or worth it for most instead of doing something else 

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I don't understand spending 10 years trying. I'd probably crack if I failed twice. 

But I don't believe that people want to be a doctor just because the job is "appealing". Sure, some people do want the "prestige" and sense of high accomplishment, but not everyone.  At least for me, I want it because medicine is cool af and I don't see myself doing anything else. Everything else is unappealing and sucks or I'd definitely be awful at it, or I would hate it after a while b/c I'd feel like I wasn't doing anything meaningful to me. It's this or Master's/PhD and sorry, but I find that pretty boring (and arguably, teaching as a professor is a much harder job to land now). 

Just because the job isn't a "great career", that isn't going to stop people. People are still going to want to do medicine because the subject matter itself is very interesting and practicing medicine is unique and offers things that other careers cannot. People are driven by purpose and meaning, and if you honestly believe medicine is where you will find that purpose, you will try over and over to get there. These things you listed matter, but are likely insignificant to people chasing "their dream."

 

This is just my 2 cents. I may be way off. 

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2 hours ago, Aconitase said:

Hi

 

As a graduated doc I’ve often wondered why do people want this so bad? I’ve seen people on this forum risk spending upwards of 10 years trying to even get into medical school and it’s made me more and more curious why people want to go to medical school so badly. 

 

If you speak to current docs almost all will say not to consider medicine a great career anymore and usually try to dissuade people from applying. I have yet to see a graduated doc pushing others to enter medicine at all costs. 

 

Given the current landscape where so much has changed relative to even 10 years ago, why is the appeal still so strong? After all now:

 

a-consistent fighting with government, no contract for years (in ontario) and likely continued cuts. Probably a salary coming in future or cap

 

b- worsening tax savings by government 

 

c-lack of hospital based jobs in large GTA cities. People locuming for years 

 

d-less and less respect from public. More and more demands given rise of Dr. Google 

 

e-increasing lawsuits and complaints (ie - recent brain dead case)

 

f-harder and harder to get residency spots with increasing IMGs coming in

 

by the time most people that enter med school today come out the other end it will only get worse and worse. It’s not as great as it once was and if you ask most practicing docs very few are satisfied with their jobs or would recommend them to others. It’s still got its positives but the negatives continue to pile up versus just entering a high end engineering program for instance. Just visit any doctors Facebook group and see - they all seem to hate their jobs and current landscape more and more  

 

So I am curious - I understand applying after 4yrs. But why keep going for it at all costs? It just isnt that great or worth it for most instead of doing something else 

There are always pros and cons to any career. Everyone has different preferences, priorities, and aspirations.  Value and worth, these concepts can only be answered by the person themselves. What may be worth millions to one person might be worth nothing to another. 

Medicine isn't the only profession where people can strive for years and years without fruition. Many entrepreneurs in business work decades until they have a successful product to market. Lawyers can take years to become a partner in a well-known firm. Accountants take numerous exams and years of auditing to become chartered professionals. Other careers are just as difficult and can take just as much sacrifice. 

Personally, I think having the ability to practice medicine is a privilege and honor. Not many careers have the opportunity to care, heal, and relieve suffering. To me, it is a dream worth sacrificing for. And being in medical school now, everyday I feel so grateful to be here. Compared to my previous career, I feel so much happier, excited, and motivated.

Having spoken to quite a few docs myself, I find that there is dichotomy of views --some love their jobs, some hate it. 

For the ones that hate it, perhaps this has to do with pursuing medicine for the wrong reasons, or that they haven't had the opportunity to pursue any other career prior to entering medicine, or maybe its burn out. I'm not sure. 

But for the ones that love it, it's more than just a job or a career. It's a calling. I had a tutor that told me once, "I have been practicing medicine for almost 50 years. I can't think of anything else more fulfilling and rewarding. If I could go back in time and do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat." 

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I second Butterfly_'s post. I wouldn't push others to enter medicine (obviously a personal decision, and not a career suitable for everyone), or say that someone should pursue it all costs (the assumption is that anyone making multiple application attempts would be continuing with their backup career plan at the same time).

However, I would never dissuade anyone from applying to medicine, as long as they have a realistic idea of what they're getting into. Many other careers also have their own significant stresses with much less job security. We are now in the middle of a cold spell, yet I'm seeing an increased number of people standing at intersections holding cardboard signs for help. I should count my blessings that I have hospital privileges and do not have to worry about being laid off due to business downturn or restructuring.

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I've also finished and I think it's very difficult to gauge if medicine is a good fit for you until you make it through all the training which is too late for most people. I think that's what contributes to a large portion of dissatisfied doctors. It's hard to leave because you've invested so much time and effort. 

It's nowhere near the worst job in the world. But it's also far from the best. 

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2 hours ago, Lactic Folly said:

What would those of you dissatisfied with medicine have done instead? I have extended family in engineering, law... the dentists on this board also speak of their challenges.

I'm content currently after all my training. I'm not 100% sure that if I went back 10 years that I would do it again though. The training process can be overwhelming at times.

I worked in another field before medicine and I think if I stayed on that path I probably would've been similarly happy with a less stressful 20s. 

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I think theres a lot of doubts in every profession. I sometimes browse other professional forums and see career switchers all the time. One of the reasons you see a lot of dissatisfied people in medicine is because its a career that requires so much sacrifice in the beginning and the rewards don't really come until later, so if there are any people who are dissatisfied, they find it very challenging to switch,  which means the only way to vent is to be somewhat dissatisfied. Additionally, with medicine, your skill set is not easily transferable to other professions. 

In other fields, the rewards come as you go, and people who are dissatisfied are unlikely to advance in these careers, so people make career move switches with ease. Medicine requires a leap of faith, you essentially need to commit to it before you have even experienced it. Most people don't really experience the grind until mid residency. I think everyone goes through something of a initial grind phase in premed, which you are usually passionate enough to get through, a honeymoon period when you enter medical school, a gradual settling back to reality in clerkship a smaller bump in first year of residency then a gradual decline until one becomes staff. Then it varies, the grind continues in academics, whereas in community most people settle into some sort of grove, but generally people are happier as staff. 

Personally, i try to keep my expectations lower, ultimately, its a job like any other and its important to keep reminding yourself that. As far as most careers are concerned, medicine is really a top job. 

 

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22 hours ago, Lactic Folly said:

I second Butterfly_'s post. I wouldn't push others to enter medicine (obviously a personal decision, and not a career suitable for everyone), or say that someone should pursue it all costs (the assumption is that anyone making multiple application attempts would be continuing with their backup career plan at the same time).

However, I would never dissuade anyone from applying to medicine, as long as they have a realistic idea of what they're getting into. Many other careers also have their own significant stresses with much less job security. We are now in the middle of a cold spell, yet I'm seeing an increased number of people standing at intersections holding cardboard signs for help. I should count my blessings that I have hospital privileges and do not have to worry about being laid off due to business downturn or restructuring.

This.

As well, if you put your head down and mind your own business, you can make 200k in most fields of medicine without much hardship relatively(after you get through the grunt of residency that is).   Most of the happy docs i've met are ones who have no idea what is actually going on in the politics of medicine. Community internists, GPs, and outpatient office based specialists who are generally showing up, doing work and going home.  Even some of the community emerg docs i've met, later in their career mind you, seeing mostly low acuity patients with a difficult one sprinkled in their every now and then, were quite happy as a whole. Compensated well. Yes complaints still as with anything when it was "better before", but overall still doing very well and good hours. 

It's all about expectation management. 

 

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23 hours ago, Butterfly_ said:

But for the ones that love it, it's more than just a job or a career. It's a calling. I had a tutor that told me once, "I have been practicing medicine for almost 50 years. I can't think of anything else more fulfilling and rewarding. If I could go back in time and do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat." 

Sometimes this rhetoric is a bit dangerous.  I've met a number of docs that are happy with medicine but also treat it as a job and not a calling. You can be very competent and do an excellent job in medicine, without having to have it transcend into a calling. Sometimes when it transcends into a calling, you get unnecessarily taken advantage of in terms of workload requirements and unrealistic expectations.  Medicine is terrible for boundary setting.   

EDIT: that said, there is nothing wrong with it being a calling for some. But it doesn't have to be for you to be a good, or even excellent physician.

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On 1/22/2019 at 11:48 PM, Butterfly_ said:

There are always pros and cons to any career. Everyone has different preferences, priorities, and aspirations.  Value and worth, these concepts can only be answered by the person themselves. What may be worth millions to one person might be worth nothing to another. 

Medicine isn't the only profession where people can strive for years and years without fruition. Many entrepreneurs in business work decades until they have a successful product to market. Lawyers can take years to become a partner in a well-known firm. Accountants take numerous exams and years of auditing to become chartered professionals. Other careers are just as difficult and can take just as much sacrifice. 

Personally, I think having the ability to practice medicine is a privilege and honor. Not many careers have the opportunity to care, heal, and relieve suffering. To me, it is a dream worth sacrificing for. And being in medical school now, everyday I feel so grateful to be here. Compared to my previous career, I feel so much happier, excited, and motivated.

Having spoken to quite a few docs myself, I find that there is dichotomy of views --some love their jobs, some hate it. 

For the ones that hate it, perhaps this has to do with pursuing medicine for the wrong reasons, or that they haven't had the opportunity to pursue any other career prior to entering medicine, or maybe its burn out. I'm not sure. 

But for the ones that love it, it's more than just a job or a career. It's a calling. I had a tutor that told me once, "I have been practicing medicine for almost 50 years. I can't think of anything else more fulfilling and rewarding. If I could go back in time and do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat." 

See it’s this sort of thing that’s the problem. 

 

Everyone loves medical school - you learn cool things and hang out with friends. Even residency is very much a team environment with lots of learning. 

 

When you get a real real job it’s vastly different - it’s often isolated, not much learning and more doing, and many more demands on your time. Your student loans need to be paid off and the governments continued cuts make that harder and harder. 

 

I am really looking king for the opinions of working docs here bc that was what I was alluding to - those that are working on their own rarely tell people that medicine is great and a lot of times wish they did something else. 

 

That being said I totally understand applying to medicine for most. It’s the ones that do it at all costs - someone on these forums almost said his life wasn’t worth it if he didn’t get in. 

 

This falcy you claim about healing being unique to medicine is crazy. There are lots of people that help and often doctors don’t help that much. Surgeons heal sure. Most of us nonsurgeons try to keep people going. A would venture to say an RT and an ICU docs jobs are way more similar than an ICU doc and a pathologist. You can find other things to give you similar feelings, similar money etc. 

 

I am not saying don’t apply. I am saying there is a world beyond medical school that people often ignore to their own peril 

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2 hours ago, Aconitase said:

See it’s this sort of thing that’s the problem. 

This falcy you claim about healing being unique to medicine is crazy. There are lots of people that help and often doctors don’t help that much. Surgeons heal sure. Most of us nonsurgeons try to keep people going. A would venture to say an RT and an ICU docs jobs are way more similar than an ICU doc and a pathologist. You can find other things to give you similar feelings, similar money etc. 

 

 

I agree that healing is not unique to medicine and that was not what I meant to imply in my previous post. I had written that not many careers offer that opportunity. 
Your comment saying that the real job of medicine is often isolating, time demanding, and stagnant in terms of learning--that can apply to any job and particularly ones with poorer work conditions, no job stability, and likely lower income. Having had the experience of working full-time in several different careers prior to entering medicine, I know what that feels like. 

Prior to embarking on a new career, people should always research the possible negatives of their job and evaluate whether or not it will be something that they can live with. When I started my first full-time job at 21, I never did that and as a result had unrealistic expectations. I ended up hating my first career. It's unfortunate that very few people know to do that prior to graduating and many end up with job dissatisfaction.

Perhaps to avoid having so many dissatisfied doctors, people should experience the world and gain experience in other careers before applying to medicine. I think having the experience of a real job, living independently, paying bills, buying a car, starting a family, and/or having a mortgage, will help one develop self-awareness, figure out what they really want to do with their lives, and gain the ability to pick a career that suits them best. Personally, I can say that my almost 30 year old self is very different compared to my 20 year old self.

At the end of the day, I think we are in agreement here.

Life is so much more than just being about one’s career and I agree that medicine isn't a career for everyone. Just like how not everyone is suited to be a high-end engineer, artist, or ceo of a tech startup either. As long as one does thorough research in their career of choice, has the right expectations, and has a passion for it, then I would encourage them to go for it. 

 

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I think that a lot of pre-med are not able to fully appreciate that laundry list of issues with medicine, myself included. The route to becoming an MD is overwhelming, and one strategy of dealing with all of the ambiguity and complication is to just fully commit ones-self and charge straight ahead. Why are people so interested specifically in medicine? It is multifaceted--pressure from family, the desire to stand out and prove one's self, the ability to engage in a really cool career. Another aspect is that, through people's commitment, people often feel that they cannot turn back or question the direction in which they are going. Speaking for myself, probably 80% of people I know intimately know that I am aiming for an MD. I've registered thousands of hours of medicine related commitments and time spent thinking about being an MD, and thousands of dollars on MCAT prep. My identity is based around medicine at this point, so challenging that can be really uncomfortable. And on top of all of that, the uncomfortable alternative career is, well,... nothing. Like I haven't really spent any time seriously considering or planning for a plan B, namely because the process of getting into med in the first place is so consuming. All in all, I think that if medicine were easier to get into, people would think more about whether it was something that they actually thought was worth their time. I am very very convinced that the vast majority of applicants want to go into med for the wrong reasons, and it is a shame because it ruins everything, or at the very least means that people might have to take a lot longer to do what they want to do. 

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On 1/22/2019 at 6:00 PM, Aconitase said:

Hi

 

As a graduated doc I’ve often wondered why do people want this so bad? I’ve seen people on this forum risk spending upwards of 10 years trying to even get into medical school and it’s made me more and more curious why people want to go to medical school so badly. 

 

If you speak to current docs almost all will say not to consider medicine a great career anymore and usually try to dissuade people from applying. I have yet to see a graduated doc pushing others to enter medicine at all costs. 

 

Given the current landscape where so much has changed relative to even 10 years ago, why is the appeal still so strong? After all now:

 

a-consistent fighting with government, no contract for years (in ontario) and likely continued cuts. Probably a salary coming in future or cap

 

b- worsening tax savings by government 

 

c-lack of hospital based jobs in large GTA cities. People locuming for years 

 

d-less and less respect from public. More and more demands given rise of Dr. Google 

 

e-increasing lawsuits and complaints (ie - recent brain dead case)

 

f-harder and harder to get residency spots with increasing IMGs coming in

 

by the time most people that enter med school today come out the other end it will only get worse and worse. It’s not as great as it once was and if you ask most practicing docs very few are satisfied with their jobs or would recommend them to others. It’s still got its positives but the negatives continue to pile up versus just entering a high end engineering program for instance. Just visit any doctors Facebook group and see - they all seem to hate their jobs and current landscape more and more  

 

So I am curious - I understand applying after 4yrs. But why keep going for it at all costs? It just isnt that great or worth it for most instead of doing something else 

The key here is their perception of the earning potential and prestige of an MD.  It sometimes does not really matter how much you try to reason with people or give them facts, they just need to find out for themselves unfortunately. However there are people out there who are aware of what you said and still want to go into medicine, usually out of some sense of altruism probably.

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On 1/22/2019 at 7:00 PM, Aconitase said:

Hi

 

As a graduated doc I’ve often wondered why do people want this so bad? I’ve seen people on this forum risk spending upwards of 10 years trying to even get into medical school and it’s made me more and more curious why people want to go to medical school so badly. 

 

If you speak to current docs almost all will say not to consider medicine a great career anymore and usually try to dissuade people from applying. I have yet to see a graduated doc pushing others to enter medicine at all costs. 

 

Given the current landscape where so much has changed relative to even 10 years ago, why is the appeal still so strong? After all now:

 

a-consistent fighting with government, no contract for years (in ontario) and likely continued cuts. Probably a salary coming in future or cap

 

b- worsening tax savings by government 

 

c-lack of hospital based jobs in large GTA cities. People locuming for years 

 

d-less and less respect from public. More and more demands given rise of Dr. Google 

 

e-increasing lawsuits and complaints (ie - recent brain dead case)

 

f-harder and harder to get residency spots with increasing IMGs coming in

 

by the time most people that enter med school today come out the other end it will only get worse and worse. It’s not as great as it once was and if you ask most practicing docs very few are satisfied with their jobs or would recommend them to others. It’s still got its positives but the negatives continue to pile up versus just entering a high end engineering program for instance. Just visit any doctors Facebook group and see - they all seem to hate their jobs and current landscape more and more  

 

So I am curious - I understand applying after 4yrs. But why keep going for it at all costs? It just isnt that great or worth it for most instead of doing something else 

 I understand your sentiment,  but a lot of individuals go into medicine because they love the subject matter and they are  service-oriented individuals. I'm a first year med student ( so I might be naive), but so far  I have been loving medicine a lot and I  honestly can't imagine doing anything other than medicine/clinical work.  I love how I can help people, take care of them, listen to their concerns, and just be there for them. I love it when I can make a patient's day better :)!!   I also love the  potential for education/ teaching, and making a difference in the lives of your students and inspiring them to be great people/physicians.I also love how you can do research and make a difference at a bigger scale.  No other career option offer you that much flexibility ( in my opinion) :) !!!

At times, medicine can be overwhelming and a lot of work, and there is a lot of uncertainty in the process of becoming a doctor, but I still think it is one of the best professions (in my eyes).  I'm very grateful that I got into med :)

 

 

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7 hours ago, End Poverty said:

 I understand your sentiment,  but a lot of individuals go into medicine because they love the subject matter and they are  service-oriented individuals. I'm a first year med student ( so I might be naive), but so far  I have been loving medicine a lot and I  honestly can't imagine doing anything other than medicine/clinical work.  I love how I can help people, take care of them, listen to their concerns, and just be there for them. I love it when I can make a patient's day better :)!!   I also love the  potential for education/ teaching, and making a difference in the lives of your students and inspiring them to be great people/physicians.I also love how you can do research and make a difference at a bigger scale.  No other career option offer you that much flexibility ( in my opinion) :) !!!

At times, medicine can be overwhelming and a lot of work, and there is a lot of uncertainty in the process of becoming a doctor, but I still think it is one of the best professions (in my eyes).  I'm very grateful that I got into med :)

 

 

Thats great! I think we all felt like that in first year medical school. If not then you really shouldn’t have applied. 

 

A lot of what you love (teaching and research) really don’t apply to everyday work unless your email academic which itself is super hard  

 

Like I said I was looking more for the opinion of graduated and working doctors - what you will be doing for 40 years instead of 4. 

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1 hour ago, Aconitase said:

Like I said I was looking more for the opinion of graduated and working doctors - what you will be doing for 40 years instead of 4. 

Major pluses are job security and consistent demand in a hospital-based practice. Essentially no concerns about being laid off or not having enough work (quite the opposite). Yes, we work very hard and there will be continued cuts, but I think this is a significant advantage.

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I am not a doctor or pre-med, I'm on this forum purely because my partner is applying to med school this year & it's just as stressful for the spouses :) I'm a practising artist. Speaking as an outsider to this process, there is job dissatisfaction in every single career/job field out there. You will never find a profession with a 100% satisfaction rate, and like anything else, it really depends on individual circumstances - location, pay, co-workers, etc.

However, the income, respect, and prestige that physicians enjoy is way beyond what most people will ever have. It took me 8 years of training to become a professional artist. I'm very good at my craft and have made MANY sacrifices to get here. But even as a successful artist with strong sales I'm still struggling & most of my peers rely on second jobs or grants even just to pay for their basic life necessities let alone supplies/studio costs. I'm not saving lives, but I would argue that art (in any form) is absolutely crucial to our culture and way of life. How would we get by without movies, novels, photography, architecture, etc? But we're not being offered 6 figure loans, high paying salary, job security, or even sometimes the most basic level of respect (in fact, when I meet new people and they ask what I do, more often than not people are confused and ask me if I "actually sell anything" or suggest I could "go into teaching").

I'm not saying you have no right to complain, especially since the training is so gruelling. But being a doctor is being gifted an incredible opportunity to touch people's lives in some of their most vulnerable moments, do what you love, and enjoy the security and respect that most don't. Just my perspective.

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2 hours ago, Lactic Folly said:

Major pluses are job security and consistent demand in a hospital-based practice. Essentially no concerns about being laid off or not having enough work (quite the opposite). Yes, we work very hard and there will be continued cuts, but I think this is a significant advantage.

I agree with all these points. Just to play the devil's advocate, there are also often limitations to where you can work. If you are married to another professional there is often a lack of flexibility with job locations in medicine. Also depending on your specialty/subspecialty, the job situation may not be the greatest and you will have to make do with locums which can create uncertainty for a bit.

Many of my friends took positions in the "middle of nowhere" which has made them unhappy and their families unhappy. However, they have very little options. The job security and money doesn't always outweigh the compromises.

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1 hour ago, blah1234 said:

I agree with all these points. Just to play the devil's advocate, there are also often limitations to where you can work. If you are married to another professional there is often a lack of flexibility with job locations in medicine. Also depending on your specialty/subspecialty, the job situation may not be the greatest and you will have to make do with locums which can create uncertainty for a bit.

Many of my friends took positions in the "middle of nowhere" which has made them unhappy and their families unhappy. However, they have very little options. The job security and money doesn't always outweigh the compromises.

Yes, the lack of location flexibility can be a major disadvantage, especially for those who have chosen to specialize. It all comes down to one's personal situation, priorities, and values. Perhaps the lesson to draw from this thread is to try to be clear about what one wants in life (admittedly difficult for young students) and do research to make the best informed choice possible at the time - then to find contentment and appreciation for the good things that one does have, or else to change course as warranted/feasible.

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I have always been a bit torn when talking about this subject - and the longer I have been in the game the greater appreciation I seem to develop for multiple approaches - many of which are at least somewhat contradictory. That is some what annoying as I have been trying for over a decade to help people get into medical school ha. I would like to think that isn't a bad thing to be doing. 

Is medicine a job, career, or calling? obviously it is different things to different people - you can be a competent even great doctor in any of those classes. The more it is close to a passionate vocation the more likely I have found your patients and colleagues to enjoy working with you and in some cases you may get better outcomes but that is highly variable. All three groups are vulnerable to burn out - some of the most passionate people in the field are hit the hardest when they don't go well or they cannot contribute as much as they want. 

There is also a problem with frame of reference. I was a professional software engineer prior to medicine - and like other in this thread I push, fought, even clawed my way to the top of my area to master my craft. That took 80+ hour weeks, all nighters at times, and general sacrifice.  Doctors work hard but I haven't run into many successful people in anything that haven't worked hard - often much harder than people realized. (as an example all the you should have gone into finance to make money people seem to gloss over the fact that those jobs are horrible - and mostly horrible as well over the exact same period of youth that medicine is over). It is rare for people to do more than one of these high intensity career pathways so it is hard for people to compare things - but as you already know there are a ton of people out there working really hard, and medicine doesn't have a lock on that. 

Should you back up if aiming for medicine? Using pure logic I would have to say yes - simply the majority of people trying for it don't get in so having something stand on seems logical. The only issue with that is that psychologically speaking every time you give yourself a back up you also weaken you effort towards the primary goal. That has popped out many times in the psych literature and I have seen that in medicine. A lot of the most successful people out there didn't have a back up - they win big or fail hard. I still say on the balance backing up is the right approach - but to be honest I was more of the latter type and just the sort of person that can go to those extremes even if not logical. 

I can speak to my personal take on things. I enjoy what I do and I love the possibility of having an impact on people lives the field offers. I work with smart skilled people every day who are trying to change the entire field.  It really is an honour and a privilege to help people who are often at their worst - and when you are right and make a difference it is simply amazing. yet it isn't a perfect job, and the hype is so extreme almost nothing could live up to it. You won't help everyone you come across either because you cannot or they don't want to. You can love the subject matter but at some point you will know the material pretty cold - are you still as excited about it at that point? You will work much harder than most - and other in yourself may have difficult with that balance even while you are trying to get through it. Depending on the field there are location restrictions, lifestyle restrictions, and even obtaining a job in the first place restrictions as well. You may not get everything you want and be way too far into the process to do anything about it when that happens. With all that in mind you will obtain in medicine a job that in almost any objective sense is extremely good relative to most other fields - if you are smart with that you can take care of yourself/family in great comfort and have tremendous perks along the way . You will do and see things that most people cannot imagine doing and that is a fact. 

You will notice that often the people less "shiny" about medicine are those that clerks or beyond - this is simply because prior to that point medicine is amazing ha - no downside has shown up yet. Pre-clerkship is easier than undergrads where you are trying to get extreme GPA, and you have more certainty in your future, riding the high of getting in, supported financially, and have a ton of freedom and surrounded by friends. It is a special and amazing time - enjoy it while you go through. Clerks on the other hand get hammered with often truly the first really loss of control in many people adult lives - you work when and where they tell you do with no say in the matter, you are isolated from your class - and you will work hard and you work long days and nights - with stress of CARMS ever present.  Residency is more of the same but worse - and now we are going on 4-7 years of that so it becomes routine capping off with an entire year of exam prep of an intensity you just cannot understand until you do it (and that is a good thing because you don't want to scare people). Long process - if doctors get respect it is because they had to get through it and thus earned that respect. What we don't have on the forum is a lot of doctors 5 years say into practise to tell us what it is like on the other side of that hump - when the student loans are paid off, and practise set up and the number of hours closer to human levels. When you look back and see where you stand, would it be worth it? I like to think so but I will have to see ha. 

Like others on the forum I would say really look into whether this field is right for you - don't do some knee jerk reaction to go into it without introspection. There are way too many people that have done that and they are not happy people. Those that get it right - well when the match is good these are some of the happiest people I know. Personally I believe I made the right choice and if I had to do it again I would.

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4 hours ago, rmorelan said:

I have always been a bit torn when talking about this subject - and the longer I have been in the game the greater appreciation I seem to develop for multiple approaches - many of which are at least somewhat contradictory. That is some what annoying as I have been trying for over a decade to help people get into medical school ha. I would like to think that isn't a bad thing to be doing. 

Is medicine a job, career, or calling? obviously it is different things to different people - you can be a competent even great doctor in any of those classes. The more it is close to a passionate vocation the more likely I have found your patients and colleagues to enjoy working with you and in some cases you may get better outcomes but that is highly variable. All three groups are vulnerable to burn out - some of the most passionate people in the field are hit the hardest when they don't go well or they cannot contribute as much as they want. 

There is also a problem with frame of reference. I was a professional software engineer prior to medicine - and like other in this thread I push, fought, even clawed my way to the top of my area to master my craft. That took 80+ hour weeks, all nighters at times, and general sacrifice.  Doctors work hard but I haven't run into many successful people in anything that haven't worked hard - often much harder than people realized. (as an example all the you should have gone into finance to make money people seem to gloss over the fact that those jobs are horrible - and mostly horrible as well over the exact same period of youth that medicine is over). It is rare for people to do more than one of these high intensity career pathways so it is hard for people to compare things - but as you already know there are a ton of people out there working really hard, and medicine doesn't have a lock on that. 

Should you back up if aiming for medicine? Using pure logic I would have to say yes - simply the majority of people trying for it don't get in so having something stand on seems logical. The only issue with that is that psychologically speaking every time you give yourself a back up you also weaken you effort towards the primary goal. That has popped out many times in the psych literature and I have seen that in medicine. A lot of the most successful people out there didn't have a back up - they win big or fail hard. I still say on the balance backing up is the right approach - but to be honest I was more of the latter type and just the sort of person that can go to those extremes even if not logical. 

I can speak to my personal take on things. I enjoy what I do and I love the possibility of having an impact on people lives the field offers. I work with smart skilled people every day who are trying to change the entire field.  It really is an honour and a privilege to help people who are often at their worst - and when you are right and make a difference it is simply amazing. yet it isn't a perfect job, and the hype is so extreme almost nothing could live up to it. You won't help everyone you come across either because you cannot or they don't want to. You can love the subject matter but at some point you will know the material pretty cold - are you still as excited about it at that point? You will work much harder than most - and other in yourself may have difficult with that balance even while you are trying to get through it. Depending on the field there are location restrictions, lifestyle restrictions, and even obtaining a job in the first place restrictions as well. You may not get everything you want and be way too far into the process to do anything about it when that happens. With all that in mind you will obtain in medicine a job that in almost any objective sense is extremely good relative to most other fields - if you are smart with that you can take care of yourself/family in great comfort and have tremendous perks along the way . You will do and see things that most people cannot imagine doing and that is a fact. 

You will notice that often the people less "shiny" about medicine are those that clerks or beyond - this is simply because prior to that point medicine is amazing ha - no downside has shown up yet. Pre-clerkship is easier than undergrads where you are trying to get extreme GPA, and you have more certainty in your future, riding the high of getting in, supported financially, and have a ton of freedom and surrounded by friends. It is a special and amazing time - enjoy it while you go through. Clerks on the other hand get hammered with often truly the first really loss of control in many people adult lives - you work when and where they tell you do with no say in the matter, you are isolated from your class - and you will work hard and you work long days and nights - with stress of CARMS ever present.  Residency is more of the same but worse - and now we are going on 4-7 years of that so it becomes routine capping off with an entire year of exam prep of an intensity you just cannot understand until you do it (and that is a good thing because you don't want to scare people). Long process - if doctors get respect it is because they had to get through it and thus earned that respect. What we don't have on the forum is a lot of doctors 5 years say into practise to tell us what it is like on the other side of that hump - when the student loans are paid off, and practise set up and the number of hours closer to human levels. When you look back and see where you stand, would it be worth it? I like to think so but I will have to see ha. 

Like others on the forum I would say really look into whether this field is right for you - don't do some knee jerk reaction to go into it without introspection. There are way too many people that have done that and they are not happy people. Those that get it right - well when the match is good these are some of the happiest people I know. Personally I believe I made the right choice and if I had to do it again I would.

I think the key here is that we have a shortage of staff physicians who can comment about the experience in the long term. I agree that at this point I am personally content with what I've done, but I honestly doubt I could go through the training again if I went back in time because of how insane it can get.

I think that medicine is a good job for many people, but I would honestly be doing many undergrads a disservice if I didn't mention the multitude of downsides. You only have to look on twitter or MD facebook groups to see a large amount of disenchantment of mid-career physicians. 

Having also worked in another field before medicine I can say that for many ambitious/hardworking/smart students medicine is not the only road to success. In fact, if you are willing to put in the hours and dedication of medicine into other fields (like many of my close friends) you end up doing just as well or better than many physicians. 

In the end, the training period for medicine is so long that you really have very little energy/ability to leave once you are on the path. Given the large probability for burnout and unhappiness, I feel guilty whenever I talk to students and they only focus on the pros (because they can't really understand the cons). I wish there was a better way to inform students but I don't think there is really a way in the North American training model. 

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Well I may be a bit of a contrarian here, but I DO highly recommend premeds to try to get into medschool. I have yet to find a career as rewarding in so many aspects as mine. I am in between residency and practicing physician having finished general surgery and at the end of my 2 years fellowship. Yes it implies a lot of sacrifices. Yes you will need to have some support because truthfully the journey to get there is long. But every single day I make life and death decisions that have dramatic impact on my patients life. Perhaps my relation to the field of medicine is highly tinted by the fact that I mostly deal with either high acuity pathologies requiring STAT decision making or with oncologic situations for which the surgeon is often viewed as the last resort to hope for a real cure. 

If asked whether I would start again this 12 years-long journey (started medschool in 2007) and if it's worth it, I would say yes, in a heartbeat.

Edited by Med0123
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