i am a “wannabe”, and i have a few questions for those of you actually out there living medicine.
unfortunately, i don’t have a real life mentor. in fact, the one practicing doctor (not intern or resident, even) i was able to talk to a few years back painted such a bleak picture that, to be honest, it scared the daylights out of me - lets just say it was not a picture of the life i wanted to live! he told me stories of being gone from home for days on end, working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and still barely making enough to pay the bills. he even flat out told me that i’d be out of my mind to go to medical school and get into such a miserable field. i was told i would make more money working as a cashier at the local supermarket and that i would not be able to keep up with a family life if i went into medicine. i figured since he was a real life M.D. that he knew everything. i’ve gotten a bit smarter in my old age, and realize now that no one person knows everything.
but… i still have some lingering doubts about what he said. can i expect to make a living? i mean, i’ve never been rich and i don’t have any desire to be rich, but would i be able to live comfortably? right now we barely live paycheck to paycheck, so i suppose my expectations aren’t all that high. LOL i know i will have to take out tons of loans to pursue this, but… i should be ok with paying them back, right??? i imagine this isn’t a huge issue as people are still becoming doctors. but, as a poor 'un, i worry about these things.
my second question is… will my daughter know who i am? or will i be gone so much that when she gets married someday, i’ll only be an invited guest?
also, is it possible to stay in one location for your whole school career? i’m a little afraid of having to uproot my little girl a bunch of times. i suppose she would be just fine if we had to move a few times, but was just wondering if anyone had ever schooled/trained/practice in the same general area.
well, those are my 3 biggest questions at the mo. if anyone has any answers for me (brutally honest works fine), i’d appreciate it.
Spend some time browsing the rest of this site and you’ll find lots of discussion on these matters… these are questions that come up all the time!
First, money: yes, you can make a living as a physician. No, you won’t necessarily be “rich.” Loans definitely loom large as a concern for your future - if half your monthly income is going to pay off loans once you’re out of residency, that’s going to be a seriously limiting factor in your life. But it’s still a net positive income stream and you just need to live within your means.
Second, my kids still know who I am. My daughter was in high school when I was in medical school and I still took her to the orthodontist, skating lessons, and school stuff. There were times that were more amenable than others. Now in residency I don’t get much time off but I do see my family. It is certainly not a 9-to-5 kind of existence, though.
Third, what you propose about not moving is difficult but it can be done - I am proof. I was unwilling to move for medical school, so only applied to two schools - a HUGE risk but I got accepted at one. I was unwilling to move for residency, so only applied to three residency programs - again, definitely not the normal approach but I did fine. I will be frank and note that I applied to family practice, which isn’t competitive so it wasn’t as much of a huge coup to land a residency spot as it would’ve been if I were, say, trying to get into the local neurosurgery residency. The people graduating from my program this year are getting lots of job offers from local family practice groups, so if I want to stay in the area (jury’s still out on that), I most certainly will be able to do so.
Keep reading through old threads as these topics have been discussed exhaustively. I can’t think of a catchy phrase that would help you search, so just spend some time poking around and you’ll find lots of stories and observations on these questions. Welcome!
One thing I’ve noticed about many physicians, especially those who complain the loudest about how little money they’re making, is that, as a group, we are terrible money managers.
It is terribly tempting to spend a bundle when your income quadruples after residency. You have every bank in the country offering to loan you money for that huge house and fancy imported car and telling you how much you ‘deserve’ it after all your hard work.
When you’re that far debt even the 120K + income seems like a pitance. On the other hand, manage your money like the rest of the world has to and you’ll find that, in fact, 120K + is actually plenty.
As for whether your children will still know you, I’m about to graduate and both of my children (a 7 year old daughter and 4 year old son) both know me very well. I’ve been able to spend plenty of time with them (although, during the first three years, maybe not as much as I would like).
If you feel a calling towards medicine, don’t let one crispy doc change your mind. Even with massive debt, a physician’s income IS sufficient if you budget well.
Jeff: MD - 24 days and counting
thanks so much for the replies. i certainly appreciate them, and they have made me feel a bit better about wanting to conquer this mountain!
thanks to both of you for the money answers. like i said, i’ve never been rich and i’ve been closer to destitute than i like to admit (hmmm. have you and your spouse ever crawled around on your bedroom floor looking for change to pay the electric guy so they don’t turn you off? LOL would rather not have to do that again!) i’m no stranger to hard work and difficult times and i really can’t ever see myself wanting a huge house - heck, who would clean it? - or an expensive fancy car. and, of course, my husband works so he would be contributing a paycheck. so i guess i’ll be ok in that department. and it sounds like i might miss my daughter a bit at times, but that its feasible to have a great family life as well as a great job. i’m happy i found this board. everyone sounds very realistic as well as happy to be doing what they are doing. i’ve lurked on another board where all the women sound positively miserable as doctors. this scared me too. but, i suppose the only regrets in life are the chances you don’t take! so… i hope the water’s warm, ‘cause i’m comin’ in feet first!
yep, i’ve had this desire to be a doctor all my life. i can remember sitting on the train going to my boring hum drum job and hearing an announcement, “if there are any doctors or nurses on board, please come to the third car”. and you know what? i wanted that to be ME! but instead, i sat where i was and spent another three years at my boring hum drum job. i think this is something i need to do, otherwise i will be spending my days thinking "what if…"
thanks. i will certainly begin searching around the boards, but thanks for giving me a good head start!